Simmons College is a school of just 2,000 women in Boston, Mass, unbeknownst to most people outside of the Northeast. However, the school’s thriving radio station has allowed the college to gain recognition with audiences as far as the Ukraine and Japan.
The reach of this small collegiate radio station is impressive, but not completely outlandish. Collegiate radio stations often broadcast over the internet through services like iTunes or TuneIn, not only making listening easier for locals without access to a radio, but also allowing for international audiences.
Radio stations run by institutes of higher learning are taking advantage of the ease of internet radio. Tom Streeter, the director of the Streaming Media Project at the University of Cinncinnati, recognizes that radios are slowly becoming decreasingly prevalent, while the internet thrives.
“The internet really lowers the barriers of entry into radio,” Streeter told USA Today. “So a lot more people outside the mainstream can get in.”
Listeners around the world, particularly in Europe, tend to tune in to internet radio stations more often than those in the United States. In a survey by Statista, more than 30% of internet users surveyed in Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom said they listen to internet radio at least once per week.
Jim Bezak, who broadcasts from a small station in Columbus, Ohio, recognized his audience growing world wide as well.
“We were getting listeners in from Mexico to China on our Webcast,” Bezak told USA Today.
Content on college radio often differs from traditional radio as well. Internet radio is not regulated, however collegiate stations typically steer clear of on-air obscenities to keep a cleaner image. This freedom allows students and professors to takeover the airwaves to run shows tailored to their own interests. These shows could be focused on anything from niche music selections to sports analytics and societal commentary.
Ana Saavedra, a junior at Simmons College from Panama, is heavily involved in her school’s radio station. She hosts a show consisting of pop and alternative music and talking segments about world issues such as feminism and police brutality.
“I decided to do my show… simply because I really enjoyed it,” said Saavedra. “I was learning a lot, but having fun at the same time. Also, I love music and having a show would mean I could play songs that I liked and share them with other people.”
Saavedra also uses her show to connect with her friends and family from home.
“It really helps me connect more with my family and friends because it gives us a fun topic to talk about,” said Saavedra. “Sometimes they’ll just text me after the show saying that they enjoyed a certain song or to further discuss something that I might have mentioned. Even my grandmother listens to it! No matter where my family and friends are they can listen to me as long as they have Internet access. It’s fun to receive pictures or snapchats of them listening to my show.”
Kurt Hanson, publisher of RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter, values the ability of any person to broadcast what they love, creating a unique selection of stations.
“What’s great about internet radio is that it’s loaded with a lot of well-honored sub-genre stations,” said Hanson. “So if you’re in the mood for California rock from the ’70s or Sinatra you can tune right in.”
It’s a great way to share tastes and entertain others around the globe without even having to leave the studio. Not to mention a fantastic learning opportunity for students hoping to enter a media driven career path. Plus, nearly anyone can do it. Programming is up to the station manager, typically a student, and open to students, professors and other members of a college’s community.
Do you listen to internet radio? What are some of your favorite international stations?