We are the iPod proliferation generation. With the last decade’s technological advancements, the emergence of the internet, mp3s, Napster, MySpace, iTunes and the arrival and ascendancy of the over-saturated indie music market, the music scene of our generation has exploded. With more music readily available than ever before, it is only natural that radio follow suit. So naturally, the Associated Student run KUGS 89.3FM campus radio station has to follow suit as well. And now, KUGS is on air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, saturating Bellingham airwaves with constant programming, keeping in stride with our generation’s compulsive listening habits.
KUGS’ fall into 24-hour programming occurred because of an influx of volunteer DJs. With too many interested DJs and not enough air time, KUGS’ Program Director, Cory Watkins decided to fill the former three hour gap of off-air time, between 4a.m. and 7a.m., with volunteer DJ programming.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of volunteers that are interested,” Watkins said, “and becoming program director it became a goal of mine to get as many people involved as we possibly could. It also becomes a side benefit of just having more music to play, and having more shows that we can air. So it just all around means we can have better programming and have more voices and diversity on the air.”
From midnight until 6a.m., KUGS will be airing “Music for the Masses,” KUGS’ more general program airing the newer and more popular college radio alternative/indie music. However, there is a possibility for some of the after midnight programming to evolve into specialty shows, given the DJ’s interest and involvement in such shows, according to Watkins. Also, news programming will air from 6a.m. until 7a.m. during the week, leading into the 7a.m. airing of the “Democracy Now” news program, an additional hour of news programming will air on the weekends.
There are 84 volunteer DJs at KUGS, including members of the staff, as well as about 30 volunteer on-air news readers. The total number of volunteers at KUGS has nearly doubled over the last two years, according to Watkins. For students to become volunteer DJs and eventually gain their own two-hour show, they must first volunteer for one quarter as a news reader. During this preliminary news reading quarter, volunteers must go through three training sessions in preparation for running a radio show. Students must learn and understand the KUGS mission statement, the Federal Communications Commission policies that govern radio, and also learn the technical operative aspects of the station.
Though Watkins admits that KUGS is pretty much at capacity for volunteer DJs and news readers, she is aware of KUGS’ reliance on such volunteers.
“They’re just dedicated . . . I try to tell them every quarter that they’re the backbone of the station,” Watkins said. “They’re what make us that much more special and unique.”
Though KUGS’ programming might revert to going off air at midnight or 2 am during summer quarter because of the loss of volunteer involvement, they plan to continue the 24-hour programming at the beginning of fall quarter, according to Watkins predictions of volunteer involvement for next year. However, as for now, KUGS is in full swing as a 24-hour broadcasting and webcasting force, complying with the multimedia 24/7 expectations of us auditory, media driven youths. Watkins relates the importance of KUGS going 24/7:
“Even though it’s only adding three hours a day it creates a much different sense of what that means, of being on the air 24 hours . . . there’s no more programming you could add, you can’t go bigger than that.”