Founder of College Radio Day
Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.
When I was a student at Oxford University I was involved in launching the first FM college radio station in the UK. It was an incredible experience that changed my life and hooked me on college radio. Eyes were towards America where college radio has a long and treasured history. So, I eventually found myself here. I have been General Manager of two university stations, most recently at William Paterson University in New Jersey, where I am currently in charge of WPSC 88.7 FM, “Brave New Radio.” College radio is a strange obsession. A lot of people don’t get it, but then, a lot of people don’t appreciate the best things in life. College radio is one of them.
Tell us about College Radio Day. How did it get started? How has it progressed since then?
It was an idea I had back in 2011 to unite college radio stations and to show the world that rumors of our death were unfounded. In many ways, especially after the recent LPFM boom which saw dozens of new college radio stations launch, college radio is flourishing. Those foolish universities that decide to sell off their stations are literally depriving their students of a voice and an important outlet for expression. Also, often it is college radio that is the last connection to the communities in which they serve. Lose that, and you are taking a huge part of the community with it. As Trump would say, “Sad!”.
Anyway, we have hundreds of college radio stations participate every year. CRD 2017 is on Friday, October 6!
What would you like stations that haven’t participated in College Radio Day to know to encourage them to get involved?
That this is a day, OUR day to celebrate the important medium of college radio. It’s a day when we invite people to tune into college radio who would not normally do that. There is incredible camaraderie on CRD between stations as they collaborate on events and realize that they are not alone. We are all in this together, without any of us compromising our individual identity or independence. Plus, it’s huge fun! Stations have concerts, interviews, on-campus events and huge parties! It’s a great way to let any college administration know that you are alive and kicking!
Why does college/community radio matter in today’s fragmented environment?
Ah….if college radio vanished – what would we lose? How about a place where bands get their first break, a place where students find their own voice and start their careers, a place that produces innovative programming that is connected to the community? How about radio that is authentic and raw, and fueled by the genuine passion of the students and community volunteers who produce it? College radio still matters. It was never designed to be mainstream, because mainstream audiences couldn’t handle it anyway. I could go on, but you get the point.
What is your favorite experience you’ve had in your career? Perhaps a musical idol you got to meet? A festival you were able to attend? A project you were involved with promoting?
We are a small non-profit that is entirely run by volunteers. Perhaps our biggest achievement is the fact that we have done remarkable things and for unquestionably good reasons too. I get very moved when I think about our CRD Task Force team who work their guts out to spread the word and to help raise sponsorship money that we then give away to college radio stations. We are a noble and worthy cause. I just wish more people could see the work that goes into CRD, and how much passion and energy people are giving to this. A great achievement for us was creating two College Radio Day albums from scratch and getting artists such as Wilco, The Front Bottoms and The Civil Wars to donate unreleased tracks to help us raise funds for college radio. Spending the morning with Coldplay was quite nice too. Chris Martin seems like a very grounded bloke. Plus, Coldplay unreservedly supported CRD from the very start, so that’s cool.
What band/artist outside the realm of college/community radio would people be surprised to hear you love?
Ah, here I will be judged for sure. I am a huge Marillion fan. I have interviewed the band many times and it’s an interest that my wife tolerates, at best! But, I will state for the record, that they are brilliant and if you do not see that, then you need working on.
What job do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t working in the music industry?
Excellent question. I believe that I would be an unemployed actor.
You just won a million dollars. What are you going to do with it?
Liposuction followed by buying a lot of Beatles memorabilia. Then a huge donation to the College Radio Foundation (that organizes College Radio Day) for sure!
What TV show are you obsessed with atm? Or are you one of ‘those people’ that doesn’t watch TV?
Yeah, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, the usual fodder. I loved House of Cards, but the recent season or two were rubbish. I don’t watch much TV as I’m often at home in the evening huddled by my record player like a sad, forlorn creation from a Pink Floyd album.
You’re stranded on a desert island. What five well known people (dead or alive) would you like to have there with you?
OK – here we go. Excluding my wife and kids:
- John Lennon (he was a genius but was also screwed up massively, so we’d have time for him to finally work out his Mommy issues).
- J.R.R. Tolkien (he also was a genius that taught my English professor at Oxford, so we’d have time to discuss the world of Middle-Earth and my general love of Hobbits).
- Barack Obama (he sent us three letters in support of CRD, but we never met. We went to the White House and thought we were going to meet him, but the Comey/Clinton email scandal remerged that day and ruined it).
- John Candy (because we all loved him and he really was the greatest, right?)
- Clay Anderson (who you don’t likely know – but a great conversationalist and thoroughly thoughtful chap who is always up for a good chinwag about the meaning of life). That’s it! Can I go now?