Tomorrow should be interesting, as I get back on a real radio station for the first time in, uh, almost 14 years. Yikes.
I have a lot of fond memories of my college radio station, even though much of the music then was frankly not very good. It got better toward the end, when grunge really started to take off, and "alternative rock" became mainstream.
Of course, it didn't matter, because the station actually followed a specific format, namely old crap and not good new crap. The idea sounds good on the surface: Have an actual programmed station, what we called AOR (album-oriented rock) with some limited new stuff, because it simulated the "real world" of commercial radio. The problem with that is that the only real learning about programming occurred with the staff members, who were the PD, music director and assistant, and creative director. I did my best to try to at least get us ditching the old crap (I was creative director one year), but it was like this ridiculous religious debate. Looking back, it's still a wonder that we could fill air shifts to be on 18 to 20 hours a day.
These days, they're pretty free form, which I believe is better. Give the students a chance to do what they do and practice the craft of announcing and programming. It doesn't matter if it completely sucks... that's college radio! I mean, they've got someone who plays Disney music for their entire shift.
So I've got about 2.5 hours tomorrow, then I'll do a four-hour shift on Monday. Can't wait. Been wanting to get back to this for a long time!