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Chart Beat Podcast: WTBU's Anne Donohue on What Makes College Radio Great & Former DJ Howard Stern's Legacy

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Anne Donohue
Gary Trust

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Anne Donohue

Following a fire, Boston University's student-run radio station seeks to rebuild & continue its tradition of training future pro talent.

"Out of adversity comes opportunity."

That's the mind-set of Boston University associate professor of journalism Anne Donohue, who doubles as faculty adviser of the college's student-run radio station, WTBU. On the latest episode of Billboard's new Chart Beat Podcast, host and Billboard co-director of charts (and BU grad and former WTBU-er) Gary Trust chats with Donohue about the March 25 fire that gutted the station's studios and has, for now, taken WTBU off the air (although some on-air talent is podcasting as an alternative).

Thankfully, and most importantly, although three students suffered serious smoke inhalation, all made it out safely. Donohue is determined that the station, which first went on-air in the 1950s, will resume broadcasting as soon as possible. She sees concrete evidence in the amount of donations received so far. On BU's annual Giving Day on April 6, "We raised $33,000," Donohue says. "It's huge."

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A big part of why many alumni have shown support for WTBU is the wealth of experience that college radio provides, both for casual DJs and those who aim to work in the industry. "It's a great place to learn," Donohue says. "It's a great place to make mistakes. Your audience is small, so if you fall on your face, you can get up and not have embarrassed yourself in front of a million people."

WTBU boasts an impressively colorful history. It was honored as CMJ's station of the year in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 1999, it became the first U.S. college radio station to webcast. And, decades earlier, according to station lore, it was the first station to hire, and fire, Howard Stern. "We had a general manager who graduated last year who was a huge Howard Stern fan," Donohue says. "During his four years here, he reached out to Howard many times. We sent him a sweatshirt that said 'DJ Emeritus,' and he sent us a nice thank you note."

Previous episodes:
 Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein on Why We Love the Charts
Fred Bronson on His 'Billboard Book of Number One Hits' & Why 'American Idol' Will Be Back
Hit Songs Deconstructed Analyzes Drake & Selena Gomez Smashes

Listen to the entire Chart Beat Podcast to hear more about how Stern further reached out to his fan (on a national level), as well as Donohue's insights on the changing state of journalism and the continued vital importance of networking for students seeking to make industry inroads.

Says Donohue proudly of her role mentoring her student broadcasters, "I want to let a thousand flowers bloom."

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