It must be difficult being college radio. In terms of raw influence, the medium probably peaked in the mid to late 80’s and the subsequently had a good run through the end of the 90’s. Now? I don’t know. I’m sure most music fans are getting their discoveries through some sort of combination of the Stereo-vegan-fork triumvirate. But that doesn’t mean college radio doesn’t still have a niche to fill.
In the age of blogs and MySpace, college radio might seem an anachronism, an analog remnant in a digital world. With young people listening to the radio less, student stations no longer enjoy the influence they had when they gave bands like R.E.M. and Nirvana an early boost to stardom.
But instead of clashing with the Internet, the 700 or so college stations around North America have persevered alongside it, settling into a role as the slower but more loyal foil to the fickle blogosphere. And thanks to the continued passion of their personnel, the stations remain surprisingly successful at promotion, according to many in the music industry, playing a bigger part in breaking new acts than is usually acknowledged.
“College radio is still tremendously important,” said Kris Chen, an executive at XL Recordings, whose artists include Vampire Weekend and Devendra Banhart. “And as college radio reaches farther now because of the Internet, its usefulness has increased and adapted.”
I don’t know if I’ve listened to college radio since going to Emerson, but there was nothing like being inside the station and having access to so much music and being able to dig through stacks and make discoveries and play music because it sounded so good rather than being pushed by a corporate entity.
There is no denying that being in the trenches with others to produce a radio show is a high unlike anything else.
And just because I love WERS and miss it greatly here are their 2008 staff picks for album of the year.