Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I ♥ College Radio

I was actually a bit surprised that the HTML heart symbol was permitted in the title field there. The iHeartRadio brand launched with the URL iheartmusic.com back in April of 2008. It was sort of a mix of ideas from the start. they were going to stream music to mobile devices and webcast 800 of Clear Channel radio stations online. The comedy here is that Clearchannel is simultaneously moving toward a national programming model where hundreds of these stations will be more-or-less identical.So as tech-savvy as it might seem at first, the content is about as edgy as cheese-whiz.

Last year they debuted the ability to make custom music streams, much like Pandora. Clearly they had figured something out about the content problem. Then I got news yesterday. Clear Channel was soliciting college radio stations to join their platform. This was unexpected.  They put out a press release confirming everything on January 23. You can read it here. Sources report that they are negotiating individual deals with university and radio station representatives, indicating a level of motivation and interest that cannot possibly be generated by a sense of charity.  The first college stations to get involved are below:
  • Appalachian State’s WASU – Boone, NC
  • Connecticut College’s WCNI New London, CT
  • Dartmouth College's WFRD - Hanover, NH
  • Denison University’s WDUB – Granville, OH
  • DePaul University’s Radio DePaul – Chicago, IL
  • Emerson College’s WERS – Boston, MA
  • Flagler College’s WFCF – St. Augustine, FL
  • Green River College’s KGRG – Tacoma, WA
  • Ithaca College’s WICB – Ithaca, NY
  • Rice University’s Rice Radio – Houston, TX
  • Seton Hall University’s WSOU – Orange, NJ
  • Stanford University’s KZSU- Stanford, CA
  • Temple University’s WHIP – Philadelphia, PA
  • College of Wooster’s WCWS – Wooster ,OH

You will notice that not all of these are even radio stations in the broadcasting sense. Rice radio is the webcast that the students were left with after KTRU was sold off. WHIP, and Radio DePaul are all also strictly online. The rest are a mixed bag: WSOU is arguably the biggest college radio station in America, WERS is nearly as big.  WICB is a large but rural college station with s strong commercial lean, KGRG, WASU, WCNI and WCWS are all rimshots to major markets lost in the suburbs. WFRD is in the unrated market areas on the Vermont and New Hampshire border. There is no pattern to this list, it screams shotgun approach, and these are just the early signers. There will be more.

What is the purpose?  That's an open question.