I did another shift at the old college radio station this morning. Had a blast playing stuff I could never do back in the day, like Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp and other decidedly not standard rock and roll (take that, Steve Johnson!).
While I had fun, I'm also saddened by it all. The station doesn't get a lot of time on the air. Participation is in the crapper. It's just not taken as seriously as it was back in the day. No one hangs out there. And the irony is that it's far less structured and begging to be everything that college radio is known for, instead of some has-been's station manager fantasy like it was when I was a student. It doesn't matter if it sucks, as long as it has vitality and a solid feedback loop to make it better.
It sounds like the problem prior to this year was a combination of faculty turnover and perhaps an overall declining issue in radio in general. Let's face it, the Internet gives everyone a voice these days, and I'm sure more people listen to my silly podcast than they did this morning's show. But isn't there something that's still cool about broadcast signals that travel with no wires, with great immediacy? I could cut together a show on my laptop, make an MP3 and have people listen, but it's not the same thing as the live act of putting a "performance" together in real time.
I hope the new folks are able to turn it around. It makes me sad to see the station so under-utilized, when it was hard to even get the shift you wanted circa 1992.