Lately I have been hanging around the KSSU station and noticed this: not many folks are interested in radio itself. And I wonder why! Most people are here to share their love of music and talk politics, but as far as I can see, I am the only DJ who is currently pursuing a career in radio. And let me tell you why:
Specifically, I’m going after a career in public radio and contrary to popular belief, the medium is ever expanding. In a world dominated by biased media, the general population is craving for a straightforward, bi-partisan news source that can cut to the chase.
Public radio is great for that! It can provide an excellent mix of local, national, and global news all on one station. Not to mention arts and culture, music, and general interest, fun shows on the weekends.
How does it work? It’s simple, but has tons of layers. There exists a few major public radio distributers in the US, National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International (PRI). A local station, for a fee, can run the programs produced by these companies. They produce all the old favorites: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, Car Talk, Marketplace, The World, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, and Science Friday. But that doesn’t stop local stations from having their own shows. Here in Sacramento, we have Capital Public Radio (90.9 FM and 88.9 FM for music) and they produce programs like Insight with Beth Ruyak. Many local stations create their own programs and have them nationally syndicated by NPR, like Fresh Air from WHYY in Philadelphia.
Lots of people think that with the rise of the Internet, news sources are moving over to the web. And that may be true, but NPR in particular has done a wonderful job adapting, using all of the available social media sites to their full advantage. Plus, NPR as achieved a PR miracle: they have transformed the organization into a millennial wonderland, turning the image of NPR into a fresh, hip look promoting ultra-cool music and things that young people care about while simultaneously delivering hard-hitting news, maintaining their relationship with the older folks. And the slow demise of TV news contributes to the increase in regular public radio listeners. Weekly listenership of NPR’s Morning Edition is over 12 million.
I want to work in public radio because it’s a way I can use my talents to do real, tangible good in our community. Not only can I cultivate my beard and drink yerba mate out of a glass mason jar while listening to post-modern East African drumming fusion jazz, but it’s a way we can engage people in meaningful conversation, in the arts, and in issues of importance.
Devan is a DJ for KSSU, Sac State’s Student Run Radio. Listen to him do his thing on Thursdays from 11:00am only on kssu.com