Like many people, I have not been happy with what happened to WRAS at Georgia State University. But I have seen something come out of it that I didn’t expect — a shift in perspective. Suddenly, industry blogs, newsletters, websites, not to mention scores of non-media sites, are talking about the need to keep student-run radio vital. The conversation is taking a new direction, and that is a good thing.
As CBI’s Development Director I see this shift firsthand. Over the past few months, more vendors, companies and organizations have talked with me about the need to connect with students now because they will be the media leaders of tomorrow. There is a new understanding that today’s students are doing meaningful, interesting work at their student-run media outlets. Equally important, these young people offer insights into keeping traditional and new media relevant to millennials and the generations that will follow.
Just a few years ago, some people told me that reaching students didn’t matter to their business or the media industry. Now, the conversation is different. This is why there will be some new exhibitors at NSEMC 2014 in Seattle alongside familiar faces that have long understood the value of connecting with CBI members. (Shameless plug: there are still a few vendor and sponsorship slots open for Seattle. If you know someone who might be interested contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Those of us who are passionate about student-run electronic media can take some credit for this shift in attitude. Change always takes time; the steady drumbeat of voices from CBI, College Radio Day, students across the country, and many others are, I believe, are starting to make a difference. We will, of course, need to constantly market our importance and relevancy, but that is a skill everyone needs to learn for success in the 21st century.