I’m here to tell you about independent freeform radio and why you should care that WMUC is soon to be no more.
As many of you know, the university radio station WMUC is in danger of being “pushed aside” by National Public Radio affiliate WYPR. Some people have shown concern for the possible loss of a college radio station. For the most part, however, the response seems to be: “Who cares? Nobody listens to WMUC anyway.” Which makes an inquiring mind ask, “Well, why the hell aren’t you listening to it?”
I’ve got some news for you. That stuff you listen to on the radio? It’s not good. I am not giving you indie elitism here; I am giving you facts. Corporate radio stations are about one thing: making money. They are not about playing good music. Only occasionally do they play something good. Bands rightfully recognized for their talent are a rare occurrence. If a station only plays one decent song out of ten (and we can only wish that were the actual ratio!), I think it is fair to say the music that station plays is no good. There is better stuff out there to listen to that, for whatever reason, just isn’t profitable enough for mainstream radio play. Trust me on this. Why do you think people who discover independent music rarely go back to the Top 40?
Additionally, when you listen to major-label music, you are supporting an industry that robs its bands and sues its customers. Just sayin’.
WMUC is a freeform radio station, which means it plays whatever it wants and you can probably find something you like there if you try. Look up the show descriptions on www.wmucradio.com and see if you can find anything that sounds appealing. This is a much more direct way to find good, independent music than searching around on the Internet, listening to what Pitchfork Media tells you to or copying your friends’ tastes. Freeform radio allows you to actually hear music you haven’t heard before and decide for yourself if you like it. The world of independent music is a big one and it can be difficult to find what you like. Freeform radio is here to help. If you don’t like WMUC, there are alternatives.
Unfortunately there isn’t much else on the airwaves around Washington D.C., so you’ll probably have to look online. WFMU is an excellent freeform station that broadcasts out of New Jersey as well as over the Internet. If you like music, give freeform radio a try.
You may ask, “In the days of Internet and satellite radio, why bother with freeform broadcast stations?” For one thing, broadcast is both free and available anywhere. And really, there is nothing that compares to broadcasting live, on the air. It’s the way radio was meant to be, and college radio should not be excluded from the broadcast tradition.
In these days, when corporations own most broadcast rights, freeform radio – particularly college radio – is increasingly rare. In a crowded market like D.C., broadcast airspace is a rare and valuable commodity and something that would really hurt to lose.
Although there are worse companies than WYPR that could take over 88.1, write to WYPR and tell them to back the #@!% off! If WMUC loses its broadcast rights, I guarantee you this university will never again have a real radio station; WMUC will be forced online for good. Do not let this happen! Do not rob Maryland’s future students of the opportunity to participate in broadcast radio. Do not allow freeform radio to disappear from the area.
Write to NPR, write to the FCC, write to the university especially and tell them to get off their laurels and do something to help. And show your support for WMUC by listening to it!
Gary Nalven is a senior English major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.