College Radio Day, a worldwide celebration founded by public broadcasting veteran and communications professor at William Paterson University named Robert Quicke, is about to celebrate its third year this coming Tuesday, October 1. The event, which echoes in spirit Record Store Day’s mission of illustrating the vibrancy of a seemingly marginal — but actually quite vital — cottage industry, takes place across 680 college stations in 43 different countries.
The seeds of College Radio Day stretch back to founder Robert Quicke’s time at Oxford, where he was instrumental in launching the UK’s first-ever FM college radio station, Oxygen 107.9. “Many people said it could not be done, that the UK government would simply not allow a bunch of cheeky and unruly students on the air. But we never gave up, and so we won the first-ever FM student license in the UK in 1997. I remember opening the mic on the very first show on launch day and could not believe that we had actually done it! We played a lot of music that commercial radio had never heard of, and that really is what college radio continues to do today. That feeling we had of creating radio history, of doing something that had never been done before was incredible, and I’ve only experienced that one other time, and that was with College Radio Day,” Quicke told Billboard.biz.
The event will feature a day-long “relay” marathon, wherein 24 stations from 24 countries will broadcast for an hour each, before handing off the mic — “For WPSC in New Jersey we hand off to a station in Israel,” said Quicke — to the next station in the next country. The marathon will be available to stream via the College Radio Marathon station on TuneIn. As well, a compilation record, “College Radio Day the Album, Vol. 2,” will be released, featuring songs from Wilco, The Soft Pack, Jukebox the Ghost and more. Proceeds from the record, to be released November 12, will — of course — go towards funding college radio stations.
College Radio Day supporters such as Moby and guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco) expressed opinions many who grew up with a musical curiosity and within broadcast range of a college will share. “I just can¹t express just how much college radio not only affected me when I was growing up, but continues to affect me,” said Moby in a statement. For his part, Nils Cline called college radio essential to his development as a musician, saying: “It is college radio where I heard almost all of the music that fueled my curiosity and formed my polyglot aesthetics. It is one of life’s great pleasures and, for me, indispensable.” Those interviews, along with chats with Andrew WK and Lucius, will be distributed to participating stations for air.
Quicke’s industry in service of, and dedication to, the medium is inspirational to an cultural world increasingly dependent on corporate funding. “Working in college radio keeps me feeling that I’m still young — although the food that these kids eat can be life threatening.”