Public Affairs, The California State University

Born on the Radio Airwaves

By Stephanie Thara

Campus radio station Since the launch of CSU’s first campus radio station at Chico State in 1951 (KCSC Radio), CSU students have had the opportunity to gain the experience, tools and skills needed to flourish in the media industry. Whether it is working at a student-run radio station or interning at an NPR-affiliate station on campus, students learn broadcasting essentials such as editing sound, hosting an entire show and managing a station.

Most radio stations located on CSU campuses are completely student owned and operated, freeform (where the DJ is given total control over what to play), non-commercial and broadcast live on the internet. Furthermore, campuses offer internship credit to students who wish to work at the station. Interns take courses where they learn about Federal Communications Commission regulations, listen to guest speakers from local radio stations, write commercials for a product or business and are taught what is acceptable in FM/AM/internet radio. Simultaneously, they work at the station learning leadership and management techniques and how to podcast, record and edit promos, loop tracks and cut segments.

In fact, numerous media and entertainment professionals credit their success partly to the wisdom they gained working at student-run radio stations. Brian Hackney got his first shot at broadcasting at Cal Poly’s KCPR. While a disc jockey at KCPR, Hackney caught the ear of the program director at KSBY, San Luis Obispo’s NBC affiliate, and was offered a job. He is now the meteorologist, science reporter and fill-in news anchor for CBS 5 in San Francisco. Bill Griffeth, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” also believes that his experience hosting a weekly interview show on KCSN at CSU Northridge helped prepare him for his journalism career.

KPBS at SDSU Some campuses also host FM/AM radio and television stations that provide news and an eclectic blend of music to the community. These stations are dedicated to mentoring CSU students seeking careers in the broadcast and entertainment industries. For example, Capital Public Radio’s broadcast studios and offices are located at Sacramento State and act as an educational resource to thousands of listeners throughout California’s Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada. KPBS, a local public broadcasting station owned and operated by San Diego State, assists students in gaining real-world experience in radio, television and web streaming through internships and work opportunities. KAZU 90.3 FM, the NPR-member radio station for the entire Monterey Bay Area, broadcasts from CSU Monterey Bay and is willing to train and teach students the effective tools of communication, team cooperation and management.

In addition to providing students with a real radio experience, the college stations serve as a platform to broadcast the strengths of each campus. Through each station, rising student musicians are able to promote their music, campus groups can speak about the importance of their organization and the local community can keep up to date with the university by listening to live broadcasts of events.