College Radio: Honor Roll of Stations
College Radio: Honor Roll of Stations

A look at five college radio stations that are clearly doing their homework.

WERS Boston

" WERS is a true hybrid of college radio innovation and sound programming principles," says Jack Casey, PD of Emerson College's professionally- and student-staffed station, which plays triple A music weekdays from 2 a.m. to 7 p.m. and specialty shows at night and on weekends. "Our students are media-savvy and understand that radio is fundamentally a business. Our rotations are open enough that we can expose our audience to a wealth of new artists while, at the same time, providing enough familiarity and consistency to help listeners feel at home." Emerson radio alumni include actor Denis Leary; reality TV pioneer Vin Di Bona; and, Barry Scott, host of the long-running, top-rated "The Lost 45s," which airs Sunday nights on WROR (105.7) Boston.

KEXP Seattle

The University of Washington station has grown from its launch as a 10-watt signal 40 years ago, earning a cume of 124,000 in Arbitron's June Seattle ratings, persons 6-plus. Spinning everything from alternative, blues and rockabilly to hip-hop and world music, " KEXP is so plugged into the local music scene," says Capitol college and specialty radio manager Erin Ginty. Last year, the station signed a 30-year extension with the school.

WSOU South Orange, N.J.

Unlike most college stations that lean alternative, Seton Hall University's WSOU blasts hard rock and heavy metal. That's right: such acts as As I Lay Dying, Brain Drill and Demon Hunter on a Catholic school's airwaves. The station prides itself on supporting Christian rock acts, as long as their lyrics are considered non-offensive.

KVRX Austin, Texas

Only a college station could proudly proclaim that it plays "none of the hits, all of the time" in its on-air slogan. The University of Texas at Austin's student-run KVRX also takes advantage of its location by working with South by Southwest to present showcases at the festival annually.

KPSU Portland, Ore.

Beyond its on-air frequency, Portland State University's student-staffed station offers podcasts of several of its shows online, including the cleverly titled indie rock-focused "College Collage," hosted by DJ Jake, a PSU graduate student and teacher. Adhering to college radio's trademark quirkiness, KPSU specialty show "Guitar Rock" celebrated Christmas on July 18, decking campus halls with the likes of carols by Alice Cooper, Los Lonely Boys and Heart's Nancy Wilson.