For Real Listeners, Shoot for an Accessible Wavelengthe

Stefany Chen/Guardian

College radio stations — not unlike extremist newspapers and humanities professors — are a more subversive trademark on any campus. They often lack advertisements. They’re populated by indie vinylphiles. They would rather face nuclear warfare than air the latest Miley Cyrus single.

On this campus, student radio is also a hidden Student Center niche. However, the managers of KSDT have recently expressed new interest in spreading their programming to a greater population.

UCSD’s “fiercely independent” station is currently only broadcast online, but co-manager Meredith Wong and executive at large Marcus Rosario want to invest in an on-campus radio tower to finally take them on air.

Due to San Diego’s overcrowded airwaves though, Wong said there are precious few FM radio frequencies available. Therefore, an AM radio station — which would probably only be broadcast on campus, so as to avoid Federal Communications Commission restrictions — would supposedly be the most feasible avenue to get on air.

Even if we ignore the fact that the gathering ’round the AM radio for community entertainment is about as popular a college pastime as a game of (non-strip) Candyland, it’s estimated that an on-campus tower would require an initial investment of a whopping $100,000 — which would be entirely funded by student fees, if approved by the A.S. Council.

While every student org has a right to its fair share of the A.S. Council’s annual $3 million, this is an unprecedented chunk of change to request. KSDT hasn’t even begun to investigate all the obstacles implicit in needing the administration to sign over a sizable plot of land for the tower. (Wong, for the record, said that the station is “really serious about it, but hasn’t started much of the research.” Go figure.)

Before pursuing a six-figure investment in antiquated technology, Wong and Rosario would be wise to look into more cost-effective ways to make a name for their station. Partnering with dining halls or on-campus coffee shops such as Perks and Cafe Roma — which could possibly broadcast the station’s live radio stream — would be a much more affordable first step toward reaching out beyond KSDT’s Student Center speakers.

Though it may sacrifice some of the station’s hipster cred, it wouldn’t hurt to add a KSDT feature to the existing UCSD iPhone application for greater visibility. The station could even approach our school’s own iPhone App Programming Club (or other likeminded student techies) to develop a live streaming application for mobile devices. Doing so could garner a fresh crop of listeners while maintaining the fierce independence that a government-sanctioned AM broadcast might compromise.

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