Category Archives: Station

Live Blog: “Not Quite College Radio”

iprI don’t think I have previously mentioned on this blog that, in addition to my college radio work, I am also the assistant producer of a music program on Iowa Public Radio.

[View the story “Not Quite College Radio” on Storify]

This week, I thought it would be fun to do a little live blog to show you what my job entails.

  • 11:00 AM — Piano is delivered to the coffee shop venue we record in every week
  • 11:30 AM — I arrive, move around chairs, clear the stage, and attach the station’s banner to the wall
  • 12:00 PM — Band arrives
  • 12:30 PM — Load in Iowa Public Radio equipment while the university TV station loads in their equipment
  • 12:45 PM — Park van in university lot & return to the venue
  • 1:00 PM — Set up mics and stands for the band, which, in this week’s case, involved some minor dismantling of the piano
  • 1:30 PM — Sound check with band, host arrives
  • 1:45 PM — Host goes over the show format with the band members while I buy them coffee and distribute fliers to the audience
  • 2:00 PM — Record live promo spots, complete with audience participation! (This week it took two tries to get the 30 second spot just right.)
  • 2:05 PM — After a brief intro, this week’s band, the Eddie Piccard Jazz Quartet, starts off by performing “In A Mellow Tone” by Duke Ellington. This song amuses me, as my uncle’s (somewhat legendary) high school band was called The Mellow Tones, a name which was inspired by this composition.
  • 2:10 PM — The host takes a few minutes to interview the band. They play each weekend at The Light House in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • 2:30 PM — Halfway point in the show
  • 3:00 PM — Show concludes
  • 3:30 PM — Pack up, load out
  • 4:00 PM — Return to station, put away equipment, extract audio to the computer syustem, mail CDs to artists of past shows, and go home.

Sounds like fun, right? Though my job does require a lot of heavy lifting (and I am a complete weakling), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Last week we had a folk singer, this week we had a jazz act, and next week a gypsy music group. The variety of acts always keeps me on my toes.

Are you a listener or supporter of public radio? What are your favorite shows?

Political Communication in College Radio

Mitt Romney in West Des Moines

Mitt Romney in West Des Moines

It’s the eve of December in Iowa and you (may or may not) know what that means: Caucus Time.

Some may disagree with me, but I feel that, as citizens’ Internet use increases, so does their political awareness.

“Trying to assess the political impact of the Internet on the American public involves shooting at a moving target. After rapid expansion during the 1990s, at least half of the American adult population had access to the Internet by the end of the decade, a figure that can only increase with time. As the Internet audience enlarges and as the political usage of the Internet evolves, the effects of the Internet are likely to change.” — Kent Jennings, Professor of Political Science UC-Santa Barbara

College radio stations in Iowa, like the station I work at, are lucky. As the number of folks using the Internet has expanded, so has the radio station’s audience. (Thanks to online streams of the on-air broadcasts, of course.)

We now not only reach local Iowan voters, but listeners across the country and the world. It’s a great tool for politically active listeners to get the real, organic scoop on the candidates and the caucus from the locals covering the race at the radio station.

What are your thoughts on political communication in college radio, or the caucus this year? Let me know in the comments section!

“College Radio – Off the Dial” New York Times Piece

Hello there! I hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday. I just wanted to drop in to share with you this great article, “College Radio – Off the Dial,” that I read this morning.

“Music is what brings people to the radio,” he retorted. “Personalities are what keep them coming back.” Mr. Neves said later, “It’s an ongoing debate between certain people — what drives people to come and why iPods and Pandora are different.”

Happy reading, and enjoy your day!

Expert Interview: Max Johnson

This week, I interviewed Max, the current music director of KRUI 89.7 FM in Iowa City. He shared his insights on why college radio is important and how it’s gotten him “real-life” jobs in the music industry, even as an undergraduate.

I have one more expert interview coming, so keep on the lookout for that.

Health Communication, or, What DJs Mostly Eat

Happy almost-Thanksgiving! I hope you are home and enjoying the holidays. If I were dining with my fellow college radio staffers this week, our meal would probably consist of the following:

Papa Johns1. Papa John’s Pizza — For entirely mysterious, bureaucratic reasons the university will only let student organizations bring Papa John’s pizza into the student union (where our station is housed). Want to sneak in some (far superior) Domino’s? Off with your head! Trying to order your club some Pizza Hut on a university phone? How did you do manage to do that while your head was dismembered?

newmans2. Newman’s O’s Hint ‘O Mint (Organic?) Knock-Off Oreo Cookies — I truly do not understand what could possibly make off-brand Oreo cookies “organic,” but I digress. These are a staple at directorial meetings.

twizzlers3. Twizzlers — Nothing says “we take our job seriously” like an economy-size container of Twizzlers.

What food is in abundance at your meetings, college radio, student organization, or otherwise?

Poison Control Center (Redux)

Did I mention that the Poison Control Center crew is just the nicest? pcc

They were kind enough to feature my last post on their website. Because I can never have too much PCC in my life, check out some more of our coverage:

Music Monday: Poison Control Center


The 90s-inspired indie rock band Poison Control Center get down at RayGun last April at an event sponsored by our station.

Don’t let the name fool you into thinking that this band is anything but pure, unadulterated awesome.

Poison Control Center is a four-piece indie rock outfit (with a few rotating members). Based in Iowa, the group has toured nationally for years and has gotten a lot of attention from industry heavyweights like Pitchfork and SPIN. Their Midwestern friendliness and charm has also paved the way for a lot of younger Iowa bands to go out and tour successfully, as well. What swell guys!

Ready to give them a whirl?

Community Radio Stations

Lake at Kotamale, Sri Lanka

Lake at Kotamale, Sri Lanka

I’d like to take a little time out of our regularly scheduled college radio blog programming to talk about one of my personal research interests: community radio stations in developing places.

Why does this interest me? I am double majoring in journalism and international studies here at school. And journalism + international studies = community radio.

In underdeveloped places with low literacy rates, these stations serve hugely important purposes. At a very basic level, community radio stations broadcast public service announcements about sanitation, agriculture, natural disasters, and more to those who live in rural areas and don’t get much word of mouth news, are illiterate, etc.

Additionally, these stations preserve and further existing cultural and linguistic practices through their radio programming, outside events, and workshops.

Community radio stations give voice and pride to communities that, in many cases, don’t have other means of physically preserving their culture as a record.

Want an example? Check out Kothmale FM in Mawathura, Sri Lanka.

Because Sometimes Things Just Get Weird:

College radio has its fair share of weirdness. Scratch that. I’m willing to officially put it out there, for those of you who may not know from firsthand experience, that college radio attracts tons of “weirdness.” It comes in the form of offbeat staffers, creative music reviewers, and voracious listeners. To be 100% honest, that weirdness is why I personally love, love, love working in college radio.

But, while opening CDs with our music director today, we discovered something a little too…avant-garde for my personal tastes.

But, our station also plays artists like Jandek, Daniel Johnston, and The Shaggs, so I suppose I can’t even really categorize anymore. Rock on, Robert Alberg.

Social Marketing & The Most Infamous PSA: “Save The Manatees”


"Our PSA might be a laughing matter to Iowans, but we still need saving!"

This week in one of my journalism courses we discussed social marketing, which is the use of marketing techniques to get people to change a behavior or an attitude.

In college radio, social marketing is typically found in public service announcements that are aired as part of campaigns by outside organizations.

At our station, the most infamous PSA we play is the Alec Baldwin “Save The Manatees” PSA.  Why is it infamous? Take one listen and you’ll get an idea.

But enough about that. Let’s take a look at where the “Save The Manatees” PSA originates from, the aptly-named Save The Manatees Club. Continue reading