If you are wondering if college radio even matters anymore, it does.

Despite the rise of podcasts and the popularity of satellite and online radio, college radio is still one of the most important aspects of the broadcasting industry.

It was in the 1960s that the FCC began issuing “class D” licenses for 10-watt stations. Since then, college radio has been a staple of the school experience and holds a big presence in local college towns. 

Perhaps Barack Obama expressed the value of college radio the best when he wrote: “By empowering students to add their voices and opinions to the airwaves and connecting listeners to new ideas and artists, college radio fosters creativity, promotes emerging musicians, and serves as a platform for students to engage with.”

Many musicians have also positively remarked on the importance of college radio. Coldplay’s Chris Martin has said, “College radio is a very important medium that needs to survive in difficult economic times when some stations are being sold off and shut down. College radio is the future for broadcasting stars and pioneers of tomorrow, and we as a band, Coldplay, support the vital mission of college radio and we also support College Radio Day, the day when college radio comes together.”

According to the artist Moby, “College radio, and I’m not over-exaggerating, I think is really one of the best institutions in the United States.” 

“The power of college radio – it’s where we all started out. It was like, if the college radio did not play it — it would not happen,” expressed Wyclef Jean.

College DJs from the West Coast to the East Coast are broadcasting music, sports, and talk shows to small, rural surrounding areas of their schools. These stations have an important place in the American system of radio as well as in education. 

More and more universities and colleges are now understanding the benefits of having an on-campus online college radio station. One of these benefits is that college radio allows students to interact and express themselves with one another and their community. 

It also doesn’t hurt that many stations have a big devoted following tuning in. If a student can’t make it to the big game, the next best thing is to hear their college radio station covering each move. Plus, one of the best features of these stations is that they provide useful information to students which motivates them to keep tuning in. 

And let’s not forget the music. One of the most important features of any radio station. College radio stations play an array of music from rock to rap. They provide a more accessible platform for student musicians and local groups to share their own music.

Mainstream radio certainly remains a stable part of society, but college radio too is fitting right along into the equation.  College radio is certainly not dead and all you need to do is tune in to see. 

What’s remarkable is that every college and university is different, which means they all have their own identity, culture, and traditions.  

Whether these students are yelling about free speech and politics, blasting the newest hits or the golden oldies, embracing multiculturalism or sharing their favorite bars and restaurants, they are offering a lot to local communities. Local businesses can benefit immensely from the presence of these stations.

Radio can be an extremely powerful tool that speaks to a wide variety of people and college radio appeals to one of the most important demographics in the country. Young adults.

Here is a list of what I feel are some of the best college stations in the USA. (Station profiles are provided by bestcollegereviews.org)

The Top 5 of the Best College Radio Stations on the air right now that are broadcasting what America’s young people want to hear:

1. WSBU-88.3 FM St. Bonaventure, St. Bonaventure, NY. 

WSBU 88.3 FM is the nationally recognized non-commercial radio station of St. Bonaventure University. It operates a 165-watt station that broadcasts 24/7. The station is run by 16 student directors who oversee the stations verticals and has 200 student volunteers. This station is ranked #1 by the Princeton Review running.

2. WKNC 88.1 North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

WKNC-FM is North Carolina State University’s student-run, non-commercial college radio station broadcasting from Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States. The station’s 25,000 watt transmitter serves the entire Raleigh-Durham market, with a focus on electronic, hip hop, indie rock, metal, and North Carolina-based music. The station is non-commercial and student-run.

3. KALX 90.7 University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

KALX is an FM radio station that broadcasts from the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California. The station is community-based and student-run with three full-time staff members, and nearly 300 student volunteers. Alum’s include Lisa Stark of ABC News.

4. KEXP 90.3 University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

KEXP-FM is a public radio station in Seattle, Washington, specializing in alternative and indie rock programmed by its disc jockeys. Its broadcasting license is owned by Friends of KEXP, an independent 501 organization. The station gets funding from billionaire investor Paul Allenís Experience Music Project.

5. WRHU 88.7 FM Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

WRHU is a college radio station licensed to Hempstead, New York, owned and operated by Hofstra University and broadcasting an eclectic radio format. Over 200 current students help to run the station that broadcasts to NYC, Long Island, and into Connecticut. The station covers NHL games, and conducts in-house interviews which has included Jack Johnson and Janet Jackson.

Sources: