Any on-air personality will tell you that becoming a radio professional is the result of practice and on the job experience. A radio newbie usually gets his first break running overnight broadcasts and putting together airchecks before graduating to a daytime slot, so it's perfectly logical for students to get some experience under their belts while they're still in school. Three local campuses offer that opportunity to future Howard Sterns, Don Imuses, and, um, Gennifer Flowerses.
Last April, University of the Incarnate Word debuted KUIW over the web at Kuiw.org. Advisor Hank McDonnell says student response has been great; despite being a new institution on campus, more than 50 students are currently involved with the station. "We haven't even scratched the surface yet," says McDonnell. "We've been able to get several students up to speed quickly and get them on the air in a two-week time period if that's what they want to do. There's a lot of jobs we have and on-air talent's just one of them."
KUIW is funded with a Title 5 grant, federal money given to the University to retain first-year students with varied programs and services. The grant will completely fund all equipment, copyrights, music, and salaries for staffed students for a five-year period. The station welcomes newcomers and Freshmen.
Found on the traditional FM radio dial at 90.1, San Antonio College's KSYM is no stranger to the airwaves, being one of the oldest community-college radio stations in Texas. Billed as "your only alternative," the station broadcasts to metropolitan San Antonio at 6,000 watts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering everything from jazz to Third Coast to metal on its programming. Many students hold down a weekly one-hour on-air shift as part of an audio-production class lab. Though most KSYM personnel are part of the Radio, Television, & Film program, students from other disciplines also find their way to the station.
Audio-visual specialist Kevin Nored says KSYM is entirely student-run, but staffers must major in the RTF program. Student positions include program director, promotions director, underwriting director, and music director. "Even though they're only part-time paid positions, its very good experience," says Nored. "These students are basically doing the job that happens at a local radio station, just on a smaller scale."
Nored says that KSYM has developed good partnerships with other radio stations in town. "The way we look at it, our clients and end users are the major broadcasters in San Antonio," says Nored. "So when we ship our students out, the majority of them will end up working somewhere in the broadcast field. We are always receiving information about openings for overnights, board ops, and entry-level positions."
Unlike KUIW, KSYM is not currently on the receiving end of any federal monies. The station relies heavily on its annual spring pledge drive to keep broadcasting; that and business underwriting are its only funding sources. Next year's pledge drive will be held March 27-April 2, so chip in!
Housed on the campus of Trinity University, the popular Jazz 91.7 FM KRTU has served the city since 1976, and is one of the city's most influential jazz outlets, helping to promote and sponsor major touring shows such as McCoy Tyner's recent Laurie Auditorium appearance. The station's student, community, and staff involvement have increased over the years, and now nearly 40 students work as interns, managers, or on-air hosts. During the semester, KRTU broadcasts jazz from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. and "nocturnal transmissions" from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. "Noc Trans," as it's referred to, is an eclectic mix of music and shows run by Trinity students. Noc Trans music director Nick Claudis says on-air talent comes from a wide variety of students.
"Not all students with a shift are communications majors," says Claudis. "The others are just interested in different music, and we love having specialty shows on Noc Trans. Some people just want to play their music for other people." l