“Seven years of college down the drain!” – despite the great quote from Animal House, thankfully I have learned something in college (and it only took four years).
But as my role runs the calendar year, it is time to wrap up my career in college radio, and graduate in the spring. What will I do without radio? Who knows. But after working at WSUM and WLTL for a total of eight years, I’ve learned some key skills in radio that have helped me become a better person.
The biggest thing that I found that was key to a successful radio station was learning that radio is more than just learning about what new album came out – radio is becoming more and more a multimedia outlet.
At WSUM, the majority of shows are music shows, with different genres and many artists that I’ve never heard of. It is great to hear different perspectives on various genres. As a result, the majority of people on WSUM’s executive staff have music shows and know a lot about music. But radio cannot stop there! Nowadays, a radio station can be expressed online through social media, through video, and through non-music audio.
If you are a radio station that does not fully incorporate social media, now is the time. Have constant updates about events on Facebook, tweet and retweet DJs, and take pictures to put on Instagram and Snapchat. It might even require having a select few on the team to take one platform, or have a social media director.
Video is huge today, especially since everyone can do it with a phone. WSUM has bands to play live on the air, but also video tapes them to be put up on our website. Sit down with a DJ and do a face-to-face interview with them on what they play and why they like radio! Taking advantage of popular trends going on can make good videos. When the Harlem Shake and Mannequin Challenge were popular, it was the perfect time to make a video. These are just some ideas on how to incorporate videos into an audio platform.
It is also important to recognize other platforms of on-air material, like talk shows, sports, news, etc. Some of the best broadcasts WSUM has done is call Wisconsin’s basketball team during March Madness, or be able to do a live broadcast the night of the presidential election. Sure, not everybody likes sports for example, but it does not mean that the top members at the radio station should avoid communicating with those that do.
Podcasting has become increasingly popular. I started a podcast with a friend that works at a different college radio station (shout out to KJHK at Kansas) that is up for an award in Wisconsin. The best part about podcasts is that they can be about anything – favorite artists, new music, or even live shows coming up. The biggest thing with podcasts is sitting down and taking the time to actually doing it – commitment is a key skill to have.
As silly as it sounds, college radio is not a music station, but a radio station – a multimedia outlet. These are some of the ways to make the radio station more than just a group of people who like listening to music. I love music, but I also love sports and video, and was able to bring all of it to a radio station. Coming in with this perspective everyday opens your horizons on how to make the station better in more ways than one. This attitude made my experience in radio the best thing I could have possibly done in high school and college.