20 Watts

Tuned Out: College Radio Struggles to Stay Afloat in the iPod Era (Pt. 6)

It’s unclear what the future may hold for this struggling medium. Dearing worries that the Internet may be an insurmountable opposition for college radio – at least in a terrestrial form.

“The thing that hurts radio is definitely the technology – the fact that it’s not acces­sible in every capacity,” she says. “For college radio especially, I can see Internet radio hurting it because the Internet … has such a big reach that sometimes people don’t even know a college station is there. There are so many other options that are online to listen to.”

Dearing founded Audiocandy+Radio in May after graduating from SU. She took the name from the show she’d hosted on WERW while still enrolled. After star ting with just a USB microphone and the Nice­cast broadcasting software, Dearing has quickly expanded from one show to 12 with DJs located

throughout the country in cities like Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Syracuse.

Though the original Audiocandy show had only an estimated maximum of 20 listeners throughout its run, Dearing at­tributes the continuation and development of Audiocandy+Radio to her experiences at WERW and praised the station for continu­ing to develop its online outreach.

“My experience with Audiocandy at WERW really lit my fire to continue with Audiocandy and build it into what it is today,” Dearing says.

Like many on the current WERW staff, Nerviano is optimistic about the station’s future. He remains a firm believer in the free-format, terrestrial radio medium. He cites the success of Jersey City, N.J.’s WFMU as a primary influence. Since 1958, WFMU has broadcast entirely on a free-format sys­tem and operates primarily through listener funding. In addition to its terrestrial and online streaming formats, WFMU became the first radio station in the world to offer live streams directly to the iPhone.

To Nerviano, a free-format setup like WFMU’s ultimately remains a more attractive prospect, even with the success of set-format stations like WICB.

“It may make it more attractive for listeners, but it’s not the way I want to go,” he says. “I think WERW could be similar [to WFMU], with DJs who have very unique, refined tastes to come in and run their shows.”

Katie McInerney, WERW’s promotions director, says that the station and radio as a whole have given themselves a good chance to prosper by incorporating both online streams and a blog into its system. Even though she acknowledges that the station has a long way to go, McInerney relishes the op­portunities for improvement that the station’s precarious situation presents.

“Radio is still happening,” McInerney says. “People want to say it’s dying out in general, but it’s still a major mass medium … There’s nothing better than what’s going on right now, because there’s so much room to expand. You can always keep going up.”


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