A recent article in the Democrat and Chronicle featuring college radio stations included information about the Colleges’ stations WEOS and WHWS. Station Manager Greg Cotterill and Music Director Hazel Moellering ’13 were interviewed.
According to the article, Moellering “describes the music played on the station as ‘cool and off-tempo.'”
We’re letting people explore less mainstream types of music. We get lots of alternatives, international stuff – and lesser known stuff from all over the country.”
Started by HWS students in 1947, WEOS is a public radio news, information and music station, broadcasting to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and airs many popular public radio programs from NPR, PRI, the BBC World Service, and Pacifica Radio, including several locally-produced programs.
The main WEOS signal is 89.7, transmitting from a few miles west of Geneva, and reaching from Canandaigua to Auburn, to Ithaca, Watkins Glen and Lake Ontario. WEOS also has repeater stations on 90.3 in downtown Geneva.
The full article follows.
Democrat and Chronicle
Campus stations keep the beat unique
Written by James Goodman Staff writer
James Goodman • Staff Writer • April 7, 2013
When Emily Ziemba sits in front of a microphone for her weekly two-hour slot as a DJ on WITR-FM (89.7), Rochester Institute of Technology’s student radio station, she selects much of her music from the “new bin.”
These releases – sent to the station by various independent performers and promoters – are a way that this student-run station stays on the cutting edge of the music scene.
RIT is one of eight local colleges with radio stations – some with a spot on the radio dial, licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, others doing their own online broadcasts.
Like many of the other radio stations on campuses across the nation, WITR prides itself as being in the vanguard of playing the latest in innovative music – the forte of college radio over the years.
WITR’s quality and popularity landed the station as one of 10 finalists for mtvU’s 2013 College Radio Woodie Award, which described the station as “an indie station at heart.”
The staff of mtvU selected WITR and 24 other stations after reviewing a number of sources evaluating college radio. Online voting determined the winner, the University of Alaska’s KSUA-FM (91.5), and nine other finalists.
But with the public able to access music directly from so many platforms – be it by website, satellite or smartphone application – college stations have had to carve out a clearer identity.
What defines this identity, however, can itself be somewhat elusive. WITR music director, Jacob Walsh, 19, who is a second-year student at RIT from Pittsford, describes the music played on the station as “focused variety,” an eclectic mix ranging from indie rock to electronic rock.
The station’s “Pulse of Music” motto provides a sense of continued fluidity, which is given structure by the station’s expectation that student DJs select 50 percent to 70 percent of their music from the station’s “new bin.”
Radio’s longevity on campus seems to depend on more than just playing music.
“College radio is on the cusp of the newest music, but it’s not just that. We are also a supporter of the community,” said WITR general manager Arun Blatchley, 23, a fourth-year student.
Volunteers recently showed up at the station – a funky gathering place with a huge collection of recordings – to punch out buttons promoting WITR FEST, which featured three bands to top off a campus-wide day of events.
But in 2009, the station found itself in the midst of controversy when it reduced the programs hosted by non-student members of the community to provide more time for student DJs to be on the air.
Greg Weston, president of College Broadcasters Inc., which is based in Hummelstown, Pa., and has about 300 members, said there is no simple way of keeping tabs on all the college radio stations.
Weston said that while college radio is competing with many new avenues for obtaining music, this old form of media has kept up with changing times.
Especially since there is a growing number of releases in the digital age, college radio stations can serve as what Weston describes as a “gatekeeper,” sorting through the releases and bringing what’s quality to their listeners’ attention.
News two years ago about the sale of three college radio stations – the University of San Francisco’s KUSF-FM, Rice University’s KTRU-FM and Vanderbilt University’s WRVU-FM – served as a wake-up call to other stations.
“They decided to become more accountable to their audiences and communities,” Weston said.
Michael Saffran, who teaches communication courses at State University College at Geneseo and is an adviser to the school’s student radio station, WGSU-FM (89.3), has worked in commercial radio – and tells of the difference between college and commercial.
“Commercial radio is sometimes derisively labeled as ‘safe’ – meaning it meets listeners’ expectations, but offers few surprises. College radio – including WGSU – conversely often offers the unexpected,” said Saffran.
College radio stations typically run on low budgets and depend on volunteer staff. For some, it’s a training ground for a career in professional radio, either on the air or in production. For others, it’s an outlet to share their love of music.
But college radio’s free-flow format, which can leave the listener wondering what will be broadcast next, has given way to more structure – and a more certain identity.
“In order to be pertinent and to be credible, there is a need to establish consistency,” said Michael Black, radio program manager for WXXI since 2007.
Black previously was general manager at the station of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
In 2003, the University of Rochester’s radio station, WRUR-FM (88.5) began an affiliation with WXXI. One of the reasons, Black noted, was that UR was having trouble filling the daytime slots because students were busy with their classes.
The UR Broadcasting Corp. continues to hold WRUR’s license, and on a weekly basis Black meets with a small group from UR that includes MacLain Christie, who is the student general manager of the station.
UR students can be found in time slots on WRUR after 8 p.m. on four weeknights and serve as interns at WXXI, but a big outlet for fledgling DJs is The Sting, UR’s online station, which started in 2008.
About three dozen students have shows on The Sting, which also broadcasts UR sports events and a radio drama, with a political show in the planning stage.
WRUR combines national news shows from National Public Radio with local music shows that have popular followings, ranging from Scott Regan’s Open Tunings to Scott Wallace’s Rejuvenation.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a similar arrangement with WXXI for its station, WEOS-FM (89.7) but the college teamed up with the Smith Opera House to launch a student station, WHWS-LP-FM (105.7) in 2008.
WEOS has been broadcasting National Public Radio programs since 1990, but struck an agreement with WXXI, the local NPR affiliate, in 2010 that had WXXI take over some of the administrative responsibilities of WEOS, which has remained under the colleges’ ownership.
“It all came together when the economy took a dive,” said Greg Cotterill, who manages the stations for the colleges.
WHWS has become the main outlet for the students, though from midnight to 10 a.m. Radio Bilingual – Spanish language-speaking program from Fresno, Calif., – is played on this low-power station that can be heard in Geneva and the surrounding area.
Hazel Moellering, a 21-year-old senior who is the music director of WHWS, describes the music played on the station as “cool and off-tempo.”
“We’re letting people explore less mainstream types of music. We get lots of alternatives, international stuff – and lesser known stuff from all over the country,” said Moellering, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Program at the Wilson Magnet Commencement Academy.
At RIT in 2009, WITR made a shift in direction when the student board reduced the shows hosted by non-student community members so that more student DJs could have time slots. Six community radio shows were eliminated. Some of the other shows that remained were given less time, with WITR limiting slots to two hours.
The decision generated criticism from some in the community and prompted the resignation of Colin Thomas, who hosted what the station had said was the longest-running reggae station in the country.
College Radio has changed with the times at The College at Brockport’s station, The Point, WBSU-FM (89.1). “The Best New Music First” has been The Point’s slogan for more than two decades.
“What was considered as alternative music in the early 90s is now classic rock. And contemporary hit music changes seemingly at least every few years,” said Warren Kozireski, who as a student at college volunteered at the station and for the past 24 years has served as its general manager.
Kozireski said that the easy access to music on the Internet and cell phone applications is a plus for The Point.
“How they listen may be changing – online and through smartphones – instead of through traditional radio devices other than in their car , but they are still listening,” he said.
WGSU, which is the SUNY Geneseo station, celebrated its 50th anniversary in February.
The station’s audience is primarily college students but also serves residents in a 10 to 15 mile radius of the college.