This past Sunday, the venerable New York Times published “College Radio Maintains Its Mojo,” arguing that while the fm listeners have decreased, the blogosphere and social media have enabled the stations to reach out and connect to fans outside their signal reach, creating a new growth area for fundraising and promoting music.
I was interviewed extensively for this article by Ben Sisario and I believe he was fair and non-biased. The interview took place during the CMJ conference, and I reviewed the history of the format and its place in the music industry for Ben.
A few key eras in the history of College Radio:
1975-80: Schmoozing labels – close to album/classic rock
1980-1985: The Golden Age – punk/new wave through REM going gold
1986-1990: “Alternative Rock” is born – “alternative” comes from college radio license language regarding programming but is co-opted by KROQ, WLIR and others. College radio music and commercial radio artists most similar at this point.
1991: The year punk broke and college radio became big business for the music industry
1992-1999: Massive investment in college radio artists from major labels.
2000-present: Decay of the college radio/music business industrial complex due to Napster, label consolidation, iPod and other MP3 players, blogs, video games, waste, poor judgement, “unverified,” etc.
From my point of view, street teaming and net promotion have the music business’ attention the way college radio stations did in the early 90s. I’m happy to be part of the continued evolution as it pertains to the web especially, so thanks for stopping by and reading this post!
I was pleased my mentor Norm Prusslin of IBS was included in the article, as well as the stations KWVA and WRPI, both a bit off the beaten path of the industry.
And I was also interested in all the blog reactions to the article, especially since one of its themes was that college radio has a burgeoning blog scene attached to it. I have started to list college radio blogs of note on my page as links, so if you have one, please let me know.
One of the more ironic aspects of this story appearing in the Times is that the Times itself is under tremendous financial and philosophical issues regarding its business “going forward.” I’m glad they didn’t call our little kettle “black.”