College Radio Stations are as diverse as the people who run and listen to them. Some of them use traditional broadcasting methods, and some of them utilize the internet. Some of these stations originally started as offline media but later became online to adapt to the ongoing trends and technology. Furthermore, some of these college radio stations spend thousands of dollars and play major label acts exclusively, whereas others broadcast obscure B-sides out of dark basements on no budget at all.
There is a wide spectrum of radio to explore both online and offline, and somewhere between platinum albums and the stations with two or three listeners, college radio has become a favorite stomping ground for music junkies and music makers alike. Even though the radio stations come in all shapes and sizes, they can generally be divided into two broad categories, namely commercial radio and non-commercial radio. As the name suggests, the primary difference between these two categories is that commercial radio is heavy on ads, whereas non-commercial radio either keeps its ads to a minimum or doesn’t run any at all.
College radio usually falls into the latter group. Even though college radio can be a debated term, it generally applies to radio stations operated on college campuses with at least some degree of student involvement.
Following are some of the best college radio stations in the United States:
1. Eastern Illinois University’s WEIU 88.9
WEIU 88.9 is Coles County’s Radio Station that plays the widest variety of the best and biggest artists. Hit-Mix 88.9 is known to play the story of your life in music, and they are neither slow nor too rock. They play country music and the biggest hits everyone has loved and loves now. Hit-Mix 88.9 has a perfect mix of great songs, and its primary purpose is to provide a paraprofessional experience for students at the Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois. Its staff has received and currently receiving hands-on experience in all facets of radio programming.
By participating in the radio station activities, students can gain a breadth of experiences to prepare them to enter the professional world of radio broadcasting. Moreover, additional experiences in WEIU include announcing, keeping music, using production equipment, operation logs, working at station promotion events, writing on-air promotional spots, and other radio-related tasks. Furthermore, while acting as a place of learning, this radio station also strives to provide quality music and community information. Hit-Mix 88.9 also broadcasts many of the University’s sporting events with a Broadcasting Power of 4000 Watts and a frequency of 88.9 MHz. Its tower is located next to Buzzard Hall on the campus, and the radio signal is broadcasted at 213 feet.
2. University of Washington’s KEXP 90.3
KEXP 90.3 is the University of Washington’s radio station with a mission to enrich your life by championing music and discovery. This radio station is a non-profit arts organization that serves music lovers through in-person, broadcast, and online programming. KEXP has operated and still operates as one of the most influential listener-supported radio stations in the world. It has an on-air and online service reaching over 200,000 global listeners every week, and it uploads videos of exclusive live performances garner millions of views per week on the KEXP’s YouTube channel. In the home at Seattle Center, KEXP hosts community events and produces hundreds of live performances each year, many of which are open to the public at no charge.
Everything at this radio station is possible because of the support of volunteers, individual donors, business supporters, foundation and corporate gifts, and funding from the local, state, and federal government. To make donations to the University of Washington’s KEXP 90.3, join the 18,000+ music lovers who power the radio station and visit the Donate section. KEXP’s unique services are divided into three distinct groups, namely Artists, Music Lovers, and the Arts Community. The curatorial staff comprises 45 DJs who are widely recognized as experts in their field, and they present the newest emerging popular artists alongside established bands.
3. Appalachian State University’s WASU 90.5
Appalachian State University’s WASU 90.5 FM is dedicated to bringing you and the High Country the best alternative rock music that they can. This radio station is operated by students who fill a wide variety of positions across several departments, including Production, News, Sports, Programming, and Sales. All of their current staff members are listed on their official website, including the numerous volunteer DJs who complete weekly DJ shifts. Dan Vallie, the Practitioner in Residence in the Department of Communication, oversees 90.5 WASU FM. He is a known lifelong broadcaster, winner of an award from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, and an inductee into the Georgia Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Through his guidance, WASU continues to win college radio station awards, including the Woodie Award from MTV. It is an alternative rock station located on the second floor of the George G. Beasley Media Complex on the campus of Appalachian State University, across the street from the University’s Student Recreation Center. It is located in Boone, North Carolina, and anyone interested in getting involved in this radio station can do so by completing a training class offered each semester that is taught by 90.5 WASU-FM’s Dan Vallie. Upon completion of the class, students can then have their own radio show with a minimum of 2 hours a week and opportunities for specialty shows, sports and news, and staff positions.
4. University of San Francisco’s KUSF
University of San Francisco’s KUSF is an online radio station that was formerly known as an FM station for its innovative programming and approach to music both nationally and internationally. Since 1963 and up until 2011, this radio station was a student-run broadcast station owned by the University of San Francisco, and following the frequency’s sale, KUSF announced plans to become an online-only station. KUSF welcomes students in Media Studies and other majors to use its radio station as a recreation activity as well as a training facility. Moreover, Alumni of the FM have often been very successful in the pursuit of employment in the radio and music industries.
KUSF started as a campus-only AM station in 1963 and was managed by the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF). USF was offered an FM radio station by a small local Bible college that wished to discontinue its radio operations in 1973. USF accepted that offer, and in 1977 it became an FM station broadcasting on the 90.3 frequency. University of San Francisco’s KUSF originally broadcasted six hours a day, but in 1981 it began broadcasting 24 hours a day. During its early days, KUSF was a conventional college station, broadcasting programs of interest to the University and greater San Francisco community. But it soon garnered attention by playing new underground music as it was one of the first radio stations to play punk rock.
5. North Carolina State University’s WKNC 88.1
North Carolina State University’s WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1/HD-2 is student-run non-commercial radio. It prides itself in its alternative programming of electronic, indie rock, underground hip-hop, and metal. It has been consistently named among the best in the Triangle by INDY Week and boasts 25,000 watts that can make WKNC be heard throughout the Triangle and far beyond via its webcast. WKNC 88.1 FM’s aim is to provide North Carolina State students with the knowledge needed for a career in the broadcast industry and listeners with music that is good.KNC, a student-run non-commercial educational radio station, is licensed to the Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University.
This radio station has been in its current home at 88.1 FM since 1966 and operated 24 hours every day for 365 days every year. Using a 25,000-watt transmitter, this radio station can reach well beyond the NC State campus to serve the entire Raleigh-Durham radio market. It takes pride in playing the best in independent, non-mainstream music as an alternative to the commercial radio stations that reside on the right-hand side of the dial. The ‘W’ in its name designates that the radio station is east of the Mississippi River, and the ‘KNC’ is just three letters that the staff and listeners have all grown to love.
6. University of Texas’s KUTX 98.9 FM
Each day at the University of Texas’s KUTX 98.9 FM is about striving to provide content that reflects the broad interests and tastes of the Austin audience. KUT 90.5 is Austin’s NPR station, and its sister station KUTX 98.9, is the Austin Music Experience. KUTX has the creative freedom and inspiration that many enjoy comes from the community. Moreover, what makes Austin so vibrant and unique is the willingness of the citizens to explore exciting and new opportunities.
So, KUTX has made it a mission to deliver unique and comprehensive insights in its programming that can only come through collaboration with smart, dedicated, and talented people who reflect what Austin is all about. Both KUT and KUTX reflect every side of that diverse, creative community, from the weird to the refined. It is committed to delivering in-depth news coverage through a local lens and devoted to diverse, intelligent explorations in local music, lifestyle, and culture.KUTX 98.9 FM members encourage everyone to get involved with the stations and explore kut.org and kutx.org, where anyone will find unique takes on dozens of topics by some of Austin’s most colorful personalities.
Both KUT’s and KUTX’s mission is to create experiences that deepen understanding and connect people. They are committed to authenticity, craft, context, and the unique power of the human voice in all its forms.
7. University of Tennessee’s WUTK Volunteer Radio
University of Tennessee’s WUTK FM is a non-commercial, independent college radio station owned by the University and operated by the Department of Journalism and Electronic Media. All news, music, and sports shows on this radio station are produced by students. WUTK broadcasts on 90.3MHz at 1000 watts and generously accepts donations and music from any artist. Both the University of Tennessee and the WUTK Radio are located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The current staff of WUTK Radio includes Dr. Catherine Luther (Faculty Advisor), Benny Smith (General Manager/Program Director), Jimmy Holt (Underwriting Director (Fundraising)), and Phil Servello (Grad Asst. / News Director). The Music Department of WUTK is responsible for deciding about additions to on-air rotation, keeping up with promoters and record labels, and staying up-to-date on the newest artists and news in the music world. On WUTK’s Blog of the Rock, anyone can read about the concert and album reviews and previews from the Music Department. If an individual, who is in a band, wants to hear their music on this radio station, he/she can submit a CD by mailing it to the music department of WUTK or email MP3 tracks to their official ID. WUTK 90.3 FM is currently an educational non-profit radio station licensed to the board of trustees of The University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
8. Ithaca College’s WICB 91.7 FM
Ithaca College’s WICB 91.7 FM is the Station for Innovation owned by the College and operated by its students. It is the College’s only FCC-licensed non-commercial educational station that broadcasts from the top of Ithaca’s South Hill at 91.7 FM. WICB operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is affiliated with Westwood One News and the Associated Press. It is Ithaca’s only modern rock station and is consistently the market’s favorite radio station. The name is the radio station’s “call sign,” and it was assigned to it when the FCC approved the station’s license. The letter W means that this station is located to the east of the Mississippi River, and ‘ICB’ stands for ‘Ithaca College Broadcasting.’ The original sign for WICB was WITJ, and it was broadcasted on 88.1 FM.
Even though Ithaca College’s WICB 91.7 FM is a non-commercial radio station, they do announcements called “underwriting announcements” to remunerate the businesses or groups that support WICB with monetary gifts. This radio station is required to acknowledge its contribution, and its announcements are value-neutral and informational only. WICB tells who the supporter is, what they offer in terms of products or services, and how to contact them. Additionally, this station covers all throughout Central New York on 91.7 FM and also streams worldwide with iHeartRadio, iTunes Internet Radio, TuneIn Radio, and our own iOS app.
9. Emerson College’s WERS 88.9FM
Emerson College’s WERS 88.9FM delivers Boston’s most eclectic mix of programming. This radio station is a music discovery station that plays the best of Boston, whether it is the newest recordings, live local bands, independent artists, or obscure classics from your favorite albums. WERS is a commercial-free, supported by listeners’ station broadcasting from Emerson College to Boston and beyond. This radio station is run by students with the guidance of a professional staff who produce award-winning programs. WERS 88.9 FM has consistently been cited as the most highly rated and critically acclaimed college radio station in the country. It has an eclectic block playlist featuring a Triple-A (adult album alternative) daytime format and sultry R&B, slow-jam, and soul-filled evening programs. WERS features more than twenty different musical styles, offers more live performances than any other station in the region, and also conducts interesting interviews.
Furthermore, on weekends the members offer family-friendly shows followed by cultural and spiritual programming. Along with that, WERS also features professionally produced weekday news segments during commuter drive time and the award-winning public affairs show “You Are Here.”Emerson College’s WERS 88.9FM was founded by Arthur F. Edes, who was an Emerson professor of broadcasting and WEEI radio program director. He developed the first non-commercial radio station in New England with help from Professor Charles William Dudley that has been in operation since November 1949.
10. Rutgers University’s WRSU 88.8 FM
Rutgers University’s WRSU 88.8 FM was founded in 1948 and is one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States. Since its formation as WRSU-AM, this radio station has evolved through many styles, including oldies, top 40, and its transition in the 1980s, to the variety of sounds it is renowned for today. WRSU’s on-air personalities range from first-semester Rutgers freshmen to long-time alumni and community members. All of them are engaged in the long-standing WRSU tradition of designing their own playlists. WRSU 88.8 FM boasts many shows featuring specialty programming, with Sunday devoted primarily to the sounds of world music. This radio station also broadcasts all Rutgers football and basketball games from around the nation and is the flagship radio station of the Rutgers Womens’ Basketball team.
Rutgers University’s radio station also announces a variety of news updates and issues talk shows, sending student reporters into the streets for original stories. This station is a non-commercial, non-profit radio station and is student-managed under the guidance of a faculty broadcast administrator. Station management is governed by the WRSU Radio Council, an oversight board consisting of station members, Rutgers professors and alumni, and local broadcast professionals. The WRSU Music Blog was named the “Best Station Blog” for 2020 by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, and this station publishes the “WRSU Top 30” on Spotify.