By Nicole Licea
An ironic fact about any medium is that the relationship between producer and listener is an entirely co-dependent one. A radio station, TV show, or magazine cannot successfully survive unless there is an audience to consume it, but a station can have no audience if they are not yet up and running or if no one knows about it.
Perhaps this is why many students currently know little about SU Radio, considering that the newly-formed club’s members had little more than a month to broadcast and promote themselves by the time they finally got rolling last Spring. The club’s officers have since made it their goal to get the word out to as many people as possible so that the station can come to be appreciated and influenced by the SU community and beyond.
This Tuesday marked SU Radio’s return after a summer-long hiatus, and the beginning of their first full semester of live broadcasting.
“When I first got here as a freshman, I was pretty disappointed to find out that SU didn’t have a radio station – it had always been a dream of mine to be a DJ or do radio journalism,” music director Brooke Lyssy (sophomore) said. “I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to do that here… that is, until I got a Facebook message from Kaitlyn Dennis.”
Last September, Kaitlyn Dennis began sending out messages on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in working with her to apply for a King Creativity Grant. Her intention was to use the funds to start up a student-run Internet radio station and broadcast live from SU.
Dennis and Lyssy, along with Katy Siciliano and Andrea Plybon and now alumni Katy Siciliano, ended up applying for and receiving a King Creativity Grant in the fall of 2007, and started meeting with interested show hosts soon thereafter. However, SU Radio was unable to go on the air live until April, broadcasting out of what used to be the Pirate Card office in the lobby between Kurth and Mabee. That left little time to start spreading the word about the station before school let out for the summer.
“We spent so long just talking about the idea that it was almost hard to believe it when we finally got going,” Lyssy said. “Getting the pirate card office was our first little victory, because it was an actual space to work out of. Once we had our equipment and our subscription to Live365, all we had to do was get people to listen.”
SU Radio currently operates through Live365, an Internet radio network that hosts thousands of stations and reaches over 4 million listeners a month.* The station is “on the air” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and listeners tune in by visiting SU Radio website, (http://southwestern.fm.googlepages.com) where they can also see schedule of shows hosted by SU students and read descriptions of each of them.
Last year’s lineup included a variety of radio show styles including Liz Westbrook’s daily half-hour news show entitled “That’s Depressing,” a weekly sound-collage hosted by Vickie Valadez, and “Techline,” a technology-based show that included product reviews and answers to tech questions that listeners asked show host Lane Hill live over AOL instant messenger.
Dennis and Lyssy hosted an eclectic music show together last semester called “The More You Know,” and plan to continue with the concept this fall.
“There was no unifying theme to the show besides digging around and presenting an amalgamation of enriching music and information that you might not otherwise come across, hence the name of the show,” Lyssy said. “We went into it knowing we were both generally into indie pop and classical music, but we also knew that each of us knew about music that the other didn’t. We always went into the show excited to share new music we had found.”
Internet radio stations have gained immense popularity within the last few years as the development of communicative technologies has enabled essentially anyone with a computer, microphone and an Internet connection to create their own radio station and broadcast audio content across the world. In addition, online radio stations allow for the representation of many different social groups with diverse interests, in a format that is relatively accessible.
“I think one of the most important things for us is that SU Radio is a way for anyone and everyone to have access to the medium of radio,” Lyssy said. “It is a way to discuss issues, to broadcast news, or just to talk and be listened to. The more mediums we have for that type of communication, the better, especially if they are focused on engaging in and supporting the public and not just trying to sell things.”
Since SU Radio is still in the process of becoming a recognized student organization, they cannot currently receive financial support from student activities. For this reason, SU Radio will be hosting a Jukebox Dance Party in the Sharon Lord Caskey Center at 9:00pm this Friday to start raising funds for their monthly subscription to Live365.
To accommodate a variety of dance music tastes, there will be an interactive “DJ Jukebox” at the event so people can request their favorite dance jams for fifty cents a song. There will also be raffle drawings throughout the night, and prizes include gift certificates from local favorites (including Down the Alley Bistro,) along with gift cards from newly opened Georgetown businesses like Plaka Greek Café and Keva Juice.
Tickets for the raffle cost $2 each and can be purchased from any of the SU Radio show hosts, in the concourse area of McCombs on Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00 to 7:30, or at the Jukebox Dance Party before the drawings begin at 10:00. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or licean@southwestern,.edu for more information about the Jukebox Dance Party or SU Radio.