Whilst UTuneMe gears up to provide a new category in its app for student radio stations, we thought it would be great to share our findings on the evolution of student radio through time. The history of student radio is full of interesting tales of how nondescript dorm rooms, halls etc in university campuses turned into high activity broadcast stations – so listen up!
Wesleyan University, based in the United States, boasts of having one of the world’s oldest student radio stations, dating back to 1939. Their immensely popular student radio station had rather notorious beginnings – its founders ran through the university’s maintenance tunnels just to hook up a transmitter along with a phonograph up the water pipes! And the result? More and more illicit wires running down the maintenance pipes due to increasing popularity. And then followed official recognition with acceptance from college authorities. Broadcasting music, university and local news, coverage on football games and other such content made this radio station a community voice, and a great resource of information.
So was the case with many other college radio stations that came into being and enjoyed a steady listener audience. In the late 60s the FM broadcast technology was adopted and the Federal Communications Commission laid down rules for college radio stations. College radio was increasingly gaining popularity. The idea of campus radio soon spread its roots to Canada, Europe and then to Africa. Universities in the United Kingdom caught on to the student radio fever with Hertfordshire’s Crush Radio, University Radio York and Swansea University’s Action Radio in the 60s.
The 80s and the early 90s were the peak years for student radio. Many newbie music bands leveraged this audio network, became college radio favorites, landing contracts with major music labels finding mainstream success, such R.E.M, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Sound Garden to name but a few. These companies also used these college stations as a medium to hype their future stars-to-be.
The rise of the Internet age saw a lot of these traditional free-form student programmed stations being sold to buyers who switched them to classic music formats. Radio sets which are being replaced by smartphones and tablets seem to be the reason why. For example, the State University of New York Fredonia uses a station that streams content online and boasts of about 350 online listeners a day – 40 percent of which are about 300 miles away from the college campus and a mere 4 percent were listening from somewhere near the campus. Yeah, times change!
But fret not, UTuneMe can help out if you’re working at a student radio station and want to reach more listeners. Our internet radio app is soon to add categories for student radio stations and could be tuned into by listeners from almost anywhere! Get your station signed up, quick!