As many of you may already know, I have a passion for radio. When I was a junior in high school, I visited my (now) college campus for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to the student-run radio station, KWVA. I loved the idea of a community of like-minded, music-obsessed students talking about/ playing what they love on the air.
The station, at the time, a small hole-in-the-wall studio that was once a women’s bathroom, was covered in stickers and band posters. Promo CDs were scattered among stacks of cassette tapes and vinyl, and hipster-looking students rushed in and out of the studio, welcoming me with giant smiles. I knew I had to get involved.
I’ve been a part of my college radio station for 2 years now, and I will be heading into my last year in the fall. (That’s me in the studio on the right!) Since my first visit, the studio has expanded and moved to a shiny new space in the student activities center, located at the heart of campus. While on my summer break from school, I haven’t strayed far from the radio biz. I’m interning with the Portland Radio Project, a local radio station in Portland. I’ve met so many cool DJs, learned about some crazy talented local artists, and made some great connections.
According to Pitchfork, “college radio can reflect what local broadcasting should strive for: freeform programming that’s community organized and unentangled in market-based obligation. It is also a continually replenishing talent pool for the industry at large, and every part of the musical ecosystem can count former college radio DJs among their staff” (2017).
Both student-run and local, community radio provides music-lovers and radio enthusiasts the opportunity to think outside of the box. It’s an outlet for up-and-coming artists to receive recognition, listeners to be exposed to new genres, and a place for community members to share their music knowledge on the air without corporate involvement. This is how it should be when it comes to sharing the music we love!
According to FRG, “community and local radio stations focus on local areas they are an opportunity to give the community a voice. Community Radio Station’ staff are usually volunteers, and they are nearly always not-for-profit organizations. Funding is mostly given through donations or would incorporate fundraising in the form of events, pub quizzes and advertising.”
Kirsten Nicolaisen, a Portland-based journalist working in the social media and digital world of TV news, is a KWVA alumn and DJ at the Portland Radio Project! (We have a lot in common.) 🙂 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirsten made her way north for school where she spent four years working at KWVA Eugene. From production assistant, to DJ, to eventual News Director, Kirsten wore a number of hats at KWVA. A stint at Oregon Public Broadcasting brought her to Portland, which she now calls home. Now, Kirsten works at KATU News. (Photo to the right.)
“My favorite memories from KWVA are late nights and early mornings spent in the studio” Kirsten says. “KWVA was my library, my office space, my living room, and my little world tucked away down a long hallway at the student activities center. I loved diving into the music library in the wee hours of the morning when I first started DJ-ing during the Tuesday 4-6 AM shift, and sticking around afterward to catch up on school work… constantly distracted by all the messages and jokes scribbled on the walls. It was in those quiet hours that my love of music, radio and media truly blossomed.” (Left: Kirsten in the KWVA studio as a student.)
Kirsten believes that local radio stations like PRP provides music fans with the most unique music and best radio-listening experience.
“Without stations like PRP, I believe many talented local musicians would not have the platform to properly showcase their work. I feel lucky to be a part of a growing force in the local music community!” she says.
College and local radio is pretty rad. Let’s help keep it alive!