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UCCS Internet broadcast challenges traditional content

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Two years on the Web and the UCCS Internet radio station has big dreams. A fledging organization back in April 2003, the Internet broadcast runs 24/7 with an array of eclectic programming ranging from jazz and hip-hop to international music and "talk" political radio.

Listenership varies; recent statistics estimate 2,000 listeners in an overall student body of 7,400, plus faculty and staff.

"This is a busy campus with many of our students balancing work and family responsibilities in addition to school," said Chancellor Pam Schockley-Zalabak. "I think it will take time for the station's presence to take hold and for the station to find its niche among other campus information sources. I find this new concept exciting and am supportive of our students' efforts."

New to Colorado Springs, UCCS Internet radio is only available online. Launched by a small group of students and faculty members, they are proud of their humble beginnings.

"Outside of a grant, everything was volunteer and donation driven," said Margaret Mistry, a faculty adviser and host of two shows, Austin Beat and Other Worlds. Housed in a small shack at the campus entrance, the volunteer staff meets weekly to discuss the business of the station -- everything from technical support to the almighty dollar, or more pointedly, the lack thereof.

Funding the station is an overarching issue. The staff personally pays for music recordings and equipment. Station revenue is almost nonexistent; however, student founder and current general manager Mike Gerschefske and faculty advisor Jugal Kalita are encouraging the station to sell sponsorships similar to those of a public listener-supported radio station. They are also pursuing funding from student government. Both express a keen desire to operate more professionally and move from student-run to staff-managed, but this all requires money.

"We are here for the long term," said Gerschefske, "but we need money."

The broadcasters dream of simulcasting on FM (or AM) radio waves but, according to the FCC, there are no available frequencies on the FM dial as many religious organizations have reserved the remaining slots after existing commercial/public stations. But that's not a problem for the general manager who sticks to his guns about the future of Internet radio. If UCCS Internet radio can't be broadcast over the radio, at least it can shake up the competition with original, alternative content.

"For the foreseeable future, I see it remaining an Internet-based station that offers programming that is of interest to the campus community," said Schockley-Zalabak, "and specifically students interested in alternatives to what can be found on traditional broadcast airwaves."

The programming is far from traditional.

Uniec, host of Uniec's Blend (an all hip-hop program), says, "The FM radio shows only play commercial songs from commercial artists and then play them over and over again. With Uniec's Blend, it's everything --noncommercial artists, noncommercial songs, club songs and smooth R & B. I just want to bring some new style, or 'flava' to the Springs." Likewise DJ Rock Bottom, host of the thought-provoking, leftist-leaning Treason, seeks to challenge.

"Treason is a forum for the free discussion of ideas; we call it our 'View from the Bottom.' [We] hope to provide a source of information first and foremost, but also analysis that challenges the propaganda from our government and mainstream media. We also strive to put current events in a historical context ... but we're careful not to take ourselves too seriously."

Hmmmm, an eclectic, edgy radio station -- didn't they used to call that alternative? What a concept. Log on and listen:

http://radio.uccs.edu

-- Carolyn Carroll

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