Cal Poly’s student-run radio station, KCPR, is one of the top 10 final nominees for the mtvU 2011 College Radio Woodie, as announced on Feb. 15. First place will be awarded at the sixth annual mtvU Woodie Awards March 16.
Bill Loving, faculty adviser for KCPR, said he is happy to hear the news.
“KCPR represents localism and diversity,” Loving said. “That is something important to radio and music. I’m glad the students have been recognized in this way.”
General manager of KCPR Ted Andreas said being recognized for the mtvU Woodie has and will continue to give the station a way to reach and impact a larger audience.
“(If KCPR wins) it would be a louder way to spread our message,” he said. “Our whole purpose is to be independent. We’ll use this opportunity with MTV to spread our message of independent music.”
Andreas said independent music isn’t something MTV stands for. Instead, it is corporation-based. It helps that MTV is giving college radio stations like KCPR the chance to prove that it is more about the music than the corporation, he said.
“We do it because it’s just about the music, and we’re a music radio station,” Andreas said. “KCPR is student-run. There is no class, no grade — it’s all just DJs who volunteer. It’s all on our own time. The only motivation is the love of music.”
Andreas said KCPR hopes to use MTV’s popularity and make a comeback after new technology killed the radio stars of the ’70s and ’80s.
“It’s not that we aren’t as good as we were in the ’70s or ’80s (when KCPR was more popular in terms of live listeners),” Andreas said. “It’s just now people have XM Radio, iPods and stuff like that, so it’s just becoming less popular.”
However, KCPR was able to overcome the impact of new technologies to capture the attention of the mtvU staff. Andreas said one day the station received an e-mail message from MTV saying KCPR had been nominated and to start collecting votes online.
The initial recognition from MTV was a result of KCPR’s popularity due to its excellent chart system and music, Andreas said.
Charts are a way for the station to help promoters figure out which up-and-coming bands are popular. The promoters send KCPR about 100 to 200 CDs a week, which the DJs play and keep record of the most popular, and send that list back to the promoters.
These charts are paired with the DJs getting and playing new music to catch listeners’ attention.
“One of the main reasons (that sets KCPR apart) is because we have always been known for our music,” Andreas said. “Although listenership isn’t as big, we have good charts and we know what’s popular. We have DJs that are getting the new, good stuff out there.”
In addition to the music, KCPR paired with a journalism class to start recording and airing one minute news clips throughout the day. The station has done this in the past, but it now happens more frequently since news clips are submitted regularly. The partnership proves how hard the station is working to keep listeners engaged, Andreas said.
Such hard work and dedication, put in by the DJs and the executive staff, is what helped KCPR get this far in the top 10 of an original 50 college stations, Andreas said.
Among the other top 10 college radio stations are: WVUM (University of Miama – Florida), WUTK (University of Tennessee – Knoxville), WKNC (North Carolina State University), KTSW (Texas State University) and WICB (Ithaca College).
WICB was the winner of the first College Radio Woodie in 2008, and general manager Rob Engelsman said it is because it operates in a very professional manner.
“We have an executive staff of 15 students, a programing department and a music department,” Engelsman said.
Engelsman said bringing in the lesser-known bands helps establish legitimacy as a station, which is similar to the mindset held at KCPR.
“A lot of other stations are free form, (and) while that is great, it doesn’t attract as many listeners,” Engelsman said. “When we program, we try to bring in new artists and lesser-known bands.”
This helped WICB win in 2008, and since then Engelsman said his station has made subtle changes, but has focused more on staying consistent to keep a strong listenership.
Winners of the award receive bragging rights and a trophy, which is made from a wooden log and stands 9 inches tall, with a railroad spike lodged into a crack in the base. It is equipped with a matching sledgehammer, which is decorated in gold leafing to match the spike, and is attached at the bottom by two hooks. The mtvU logo is burnt into the wood as the finishing touch.
This year, the awards will leave New York City for the first time to be held in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest Music Festival. It will air on March 16 at 12 a.m. ET/PT on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU. Visit KCPR’s website to find out more information on how to vote or tune in to 91.3 FM.
KCPR hires 10 to 15 new DJs at the beginning of each quarter.