Ain’t We Got Fun

The rich get richer: This post from Radio Survivor tells us that college radio station KVTI, the popular 51,000-watt “I-91” from Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma, has been absorbed into the borg of Northwest Public Radio and Washington State University. As such it began piping in classical music and NPR news from the mother ship. An article in the Tacoma News-Tribune read:

The new programming at 90.9 FM doesn’t require a person, let alone students, to operate the studio in Lakewood. WSU’s radio arm, Northwest Public Radio, is based in Pullman. It sends feeds to Clover Park and 14 other participating stations in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

The Survivor lamented its passing:

It’s really sad to see another college turning control of its radio station over to an outside entity, especially when the previous format seems to have been doing quite well. According to the Tacoma News-Tribune piece, Clover Park Technical College plans to eliminate its radio broadcasting program: “The college also said it was paring back programs that offer less promising careers, and that radio broadcasting is struggling along with other media.”

The college also said it was paring back programs that offer less promising careers, and that radio broadcasting is struggling along with other media.

The paper said radio instructor John Mangan noted that the station was quite popular, with its audience peaking at an all-time high of 160,000 listeners per week over the winter, and hovering around 120,000 listeners when it closed this month. He said it also had plenty of local sponsorships and support from local businesses.

An earlier post outlined basically was happening at universities nationwide — including at the University of Texas, where the culture wars (initially billed as “hard times”) made victims out of KUT radio personalities as well as the Cactus Café, a popular longtime folk club on campus. A Facebook group of nearly 25,000 strong blossomed to oppose the closing of the café, and after some severe muddling about and entirely inept public relations, stewardship of the club was fumbled to the radio station. It remains to be seen how that will work in the hands of bean counters who seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The earlier post noted several other instances:

As the decade draws to a close, economic woes are a resounding theme in the radio world, especially in the non-profit realm of college radio. Universities are as strapped for cash as anyone else and are on the lookout for ways to cut costs. Increasingly these budget-cutting eyes are fixated on college radio, which has led to the unfortunate trend of universities reducing funding or eliminating stations entirely….

Examples have included the sale of classical music station WCAL (along with KMSE) at St. Olaf College to Minnesota Public Radio in 2004. Eventually, that station was tranformed into The Current (ironically, a more college-radio like station with its indie-oriented music programming).

One of the most disturbing stories was the unexpected shutdown of Texas Tech station KTXT in December 2008. The nearly 50-year-old college radio station was described by university officials as a financial drain and not as relevant as other forms of media. Control of the station was transferred to Texas Tech’s other station, NPR-affiliate KOHM, and beginning in June the new KTXT started to air programming from Public Radio International and jazz music run on automation.

This May, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reported that its college radio station KAUR would be dropping its FM broadcast and would transform into an online-only station. By September 2009 control of the station (but not ownership) was passed on to Minnesota Public Radio. KAUR now airs an all news and talk format of syndicated public radio programs and the college abandoned plans to even host an online-only student radio station.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Also linked is the story about KVTI in Tacoma, Washington: “In another sad sign of the times, Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma, Washington has decided to cut costs by passing along control of its 51,000 watt college radio station KVTI to Washington State University’s Northwest Public Radio. As a result of this change, the formerly top 40 station known as I-91 FM began piping in classical music programming and NPR news on June 21st.” These were noted here in this report. […]

  2. HELP! NPR ate my radio station.

  3. […] Read the rest here: Ain't We Got Fun « Keeping the Public in Public Radio […]

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