In the wonderful world of radio, when the vast majority of radio
stations seem to be jam packed with commercial after commercial and
the same repetitive music, college radio offers the freedom of new
and different music with no advertisements.
Finding a radio station that does not bombard its listeners with
constant commercials or the same mainstream popular music can be a
never-ending challenge. This is why many people say that
noncommercial college radio is a rest to the ears, because unlike
commercial stations, noncommercial college radio stations are
nonprofit organizations with sponsors rather than advertisers.
“Commercial stations, like those owned by Clear Channel, are a
business. Their goal is to make money, and noncommercial stations
goals are completely the opposite,” said Taryn McQueen, public
affairs director for Colorado State University’s radio station,
Radio stations like KCSU, are noncommercial stations dedicated
to playing something that is different from the mainstream popular
music that you may hear on Clear Channel stations like Fort
Collins’ Kiss 96.1.
“Because we are a noncommercial station, we are self grounded
and we can play whatever we want. We don’t have to answer to record
companies or corporate authorities,” said Braden Dick, program
director for KCSU.
Dick claims that because KCSU is a noncommercial station, they
have the freedom to play new music that isn’t aired on commercial
stations until four to six months after a CD is released.
“We used to play bands like Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne and John
Mayer, long before they became popular on the mainstream radio
stations,” Dick said. “Now that’s all you hear on typical
At noncommercial college radio stations the student managers and
DJs decide what music is best fit to serve the community, where at
a commercial station the play lists and commentary has gone through
a long line of corporate management.
“Commercial stations don’t have the freedom to be spontaneous,
unfortunately, their DJs realize that they are just helping to run
a computer,” said Mario Valdez, station manager of KRCC 91.5 of
Colorado College in Colorado Springs. “Even the things that they
say on the air are written down for them.”
Valdez also claims that it is a much more exciting and
fulfilling experience for disc jockeys to work for a noncommercial
“Many times a DJ will take a second job at a noncommercial
station under a different DJ name so they can have more
spontaneity. It’s the only way they can have some fun at their
job,” Valdez said.
This is due to a system that was originally established in the
1950s called format radio, which is the basis for almost all
commercial radio stations. Using this, the management, rather than
the DJs, organize the daily programs, according to the book, “Media
and Culture” by Richard Campbell.
“In format radio, management carefully coordinates, or programs,
each hour, dictating what the deejay will do at various intervals
throughout each hour of the day,” Campbell wrote.
John Quigley, general manager of KVCU 1190 of the University of
Colorado Boulder, claims that noncommercial radio was created in
order to get away from the commercialism of profit radio and will
continue to use its freedom to air new and unique music genres.
“Commercial radio stations are unwilling to take risks and have
become over- commercialized,” Quigley said. “Noncommercial stations
are much better quality because they have the freedom to play what
they want and not what they are told to play.”