Here in a college community you have an excellent chance to develop and mature your music taste beyond Top 40 and MTV-propagated pop. Even though Bellingham is a hub for concerts, diving into the music scene can be intimidating for some. For those of you who are interested in not only being entertained to a ridiculous extent, but also being introduced to some diverse music, our famed on-campus radio station, KUGS, can spoon feed you into music snob status.
“We want people to know that we play good music,” said KUGS Program Director, Oliver Anderson. “One of our newer goals was reaching out to students and improving our standing in the student community.” In order to fulfill their goal of increasing listenership, KUGS has made a move to join the online revolution. You can now find their eclectic airwaves not only at 89.3 but also online at www.KUGS.org.
Though it would seem like KUGS is just moving gracefully with the times—as many radio stations are now broadcast online—in reality, KUGS was far beyond the times in 1997, when they became the second station in the United States to broadcast music online. “Around 2002 we decided to stop web casting because there were a lot of hardcore restrictions,” Anderson explained. “Fifteen to twenty things had to be recorded [online] for each song including barcode number, time zone of origination of transmission, catalogue number, etcetera. It was too much of a hassle.”
According to Anderson, the idea of broadcasting online again came up quite a bit after 2002, especially as they received feedback from their online survey where people would say that they loved the station but couldn’t get it in their dorm or after they’d moved far off campus. However, each time the idea of webcasting came up, it kept getting shot down. That is, until last year, when the KUGS staff finally dedicated themselves to the effort and worked for nearly a year to fill out all of the necessary paperwork.
Now, it’s as easy as visiting the KUGS web site, clicking on the green button that says “listen to KUGS online now,” and your default player will pop up and, well, you may be surprised what your laptop belts out. In Anderson’s words, KUGS plays music that is “all across the friggin board.”
“We have a Monday through Friday daytime mix, which is already ridiculously eclectic. We have everything from surf metal to funk to Indian music and soul to trans to hip hop to all live to covers. It’s ridiculous the kind of variety you’ll find on KUGS. It’s really hard to put in a box,” Anderson added.
Due to Anderson’s skillful scheduling, however, you have don’t have to worry about auditory abrasion from all of these very different music styles. “I’ve set up the schedule so it flows,” said Anderson. “I really wanted to work on listener retention between shows. So, for example, Sunday morning until 6:00 p.m. is very World Music-centric.”
Despite the effort for smooth transitions, KUGS isn’t always just easy listening; some of the programming is sure to challenge you and pull you out of your comfy, worn down iTunes playlists. When asked what the most “out there” KUGS radio show is right now, Anderson didn’t hesitate when he replied, “It’s a program that’s called ‘Your Radio Is Not Broken’ which is a mix of apocalyptic folk and black metal.”
Other noteworthy shows, according to Anderson are: “Pop Rocks” which is a mix of Indie pop; “Guilty Pleasures” a show which features the 80’s music you’re ashamed to admit that you adore; “Tsunami of Death” which plays surf metal and a new show called “Bindis and Brass, Dhols and Soul” a show with Indian music and Soul DJed by a guy who just got back from India.
If you’re interested in becoming more than just a listener of KUGS, the only prerequisite to being a DJ and having your own radio show on the station is that you are a student. Other than that, Anderson exclaimed that the application process is “So [expletive] easy; you just come up to the seventh floor [of the Viking Union] and turn in an application. The other way is to sign up to be a newsreader, and then you’ll get top priority for your own show the next quarter.”
To contact KUGS, you can visit www.KUGS.org or call them up at (360) 650-KUGS (5847).