Radio silence

Listen to this…

Only  handful of college radio stations have entered The CCC Awards and none have won. I understand why. In some ways, they’re the talented but neglected middle child of student media, stuck between the serious older brother of print and the hip younger brother of broadcast.

I expect more radio stations to enter now that College Broadcasters, Inc. has joined the awards as a sponsor, which happened just today. While CBI represents all electronic media, it’s best known as a force in college radio.

Contest directors like me don’t judge the entries, but I can still praise a few of them – specifically these from a pair of Texas college radio stations…


KTXT-FM

In some ways, recording video on an iPhone is easier than producing quality audio.

“Doing radio work from home is difficult without the right equipment,” Haley Goodman wrote in her entry last week. Goodman is digital content director at KTXT-FM, the student-operated radio station at Texas Tech University. “Students are using Audition who haven’t before, writing scripts about a tough topic, and setting up makeshift recording studios with a Zoom Recorder or their iPhone.”

KTXT’s operations manager Julia Sewing is sheltering in her closet, which she’s converted into her studio.

“Although not the ideal set up, I’ve been able to get creative in sound-proofing my room and still creating on-air content that quality-wise doesn’t differ from our usual on-air sound,” Sewing told us. “It’s taught me that even without access to our recording studio, I can still create great audio and inform my community in the best way I can.”

Goodman and Sewing submitted my favorite entries so far: one-minute public service announcements, perfectly produced. Here’s one from Sewing, with clips from the songs she cites…

Hey guys, it’s Julia Sewing, KTXT’s operations director, here to remind you to wash your hands. The proper way to wash your hands is for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. So one of my favorite songs to sing to make sure I’m doing that correctly is the chorus of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene,’ Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret,’ and ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. For more information on proper hand-washing techniques, visit cdc.gov/handwashing. 

…and the judges were much impressed. If it weren’t for the insane quality of 170 other entries last week, the PSAs would’ve qualified for at least an honorable mention. I hope Goodman and Sewing keep producing their PSAs – and they keep submitting them to The CCC Awards.


UTA Radio

Twice, I’ve advised the same college radio station for one semester. Both times, the station was between advisers. I was beside myself. The students only wanted to play their own favorite music – and insult everyone else’s music. The news director was the loneliest guy in the studio.

After commiserating with other advisers, I learned this musical egotism is quite common. So I admire stations that not only cover campus news, but kick ass doing it. UTA Radio kicks ass.

The University of Texas at Arlington staff packs a lot into 30 seconds about local unemployment, a minute about “study abroad gone wrong,” and three minutes about the all-too-familiar saga of online classes.

Lance Liguez agrees. He’s UTA Radio’s faculty adviser. Liguez entered those three reports on behalf of the staff, who he says is struggling yet succeeding to produce twice-weekly newscasts while sheltering at home – which many stations can’t even handle while hanging out in their studios.

“They’re scripting, interviewing, pitching, and recording content while also navigating the new normal of online classes,” Liguez says. “They understand they are in the midst of the biggest story so far this decade and have responded in kind.”

While neither station has won a CCC Award yet, if they keep this up, I can’t imagine they won’t. Are there other stations out there are creative and as journalistic as these two? I can imagine there are.


The next deadline for The CCC Awards is Friday at 11:59:59 p.m.




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