While most college radio stations are trying to get online, Scott Hirsch, general manager of Babson College Radio, said his station is trying to off the net and on the airwaves. It has only been on the net and uses the banner line “the nation's first college web-radio station.”
Hirsch said, “BCR prides itself on being the nation's first college Web-based radio station. Ironically, our goal is to get away from being Internet only.”
Although Hirsch sees the future of entertainment content delivery as being handled through the Internet, he thinks Internet radio is still “wearing its diapers.”
“In addition to being in its infancy, there are way too many options. For instance, the amount of content out there is overwhelming. A large part of listening to Internet radio, also, is the task of filtering out the junk,” Hirsch said.
For now, the students at Babson are always asking the station when it is going to be on the traditional airwaves. “We're working on a leaky coax solution that would get a signal into all of the dorms. We don't like Internet radio as much as FM and neither do the students, but it is a Godsend for student radio because it does not require a license,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch, an entrapreneurship major in Babson Park, Massachusetts said he broadcasts online usually about eight hours a day or so and the rest is canned. At three and a half years old, the new station is still working out some of its kinks.
Hiesch said, every semester the station loses most of its DJs from the past semester and end not up building a full staff until they get well into the first quarter.
Hirsh described a recent advertising campaign: “BCR is rated `P' for "Problematic," in which we joke around about being named the most "problematic" group on campus by the administrative departments. This approach has gotten the interest of some students and some very negative press from the school's newspaper.
The station is also focusing on the large contingent of international students who attend Babson by showing them that the station is open to having more diverse programming. “We figure that the more diverse staff we have DJing, the more of their friends will be tuning in,” he said.
Hirsch, who said he started a small radio station at his high school in Brentwood, California (, said the people who stay and work at the station do so because they like doing it, not because it furthers their careers.
“Babson is not a large school and does not have any kind of communications program, so our core staff is the kind of group that is very passionate about what it does.
“Many of the Babson students, including myself, are workaholics,” Hirsch said (in addition to being GM, he is also the webmaster, chief engineer and he washes the windows).
“We spend most of our free time at the radio station. The program manager and I do not live close enough to go home over the weekends, so the radio station is our family while we are here at school,” said Hirsch.
The majority of BCR's budget has always been equipment and computer leases. Hirsch said his predecessor buys nothing but the best equipment. “We have a saying around here: If it's not going to be number one or first-class, then we don't do it. Having Arrakis consoles, editors, desks and automation equipment is expensive, but well worth the money. The stuff will last forever, or at least until we finish leasing them.” Three of the computers at BCR stream audio, one archives, one plays music, one is the automation computer, and one handles on-air requests.
Hirsch said his staff has unanimously agreed to keep the radio station away from juvenile humor “i.e. penis and vagina and caca jokes that were funny when we were five years old,” and distasteful content (including offensive songs, skits, etc.)
The only problems the station has had was with the major clearinghouses. “ASCAP kept bothering us because the radio station itself was not paying for licensing, even though the school was being sent a few bills (and paying them all). We cleared that up and are now paying for licensing. The whole Internet radio station licensing issue is just a mess; it goes right back to my point about Internet radio still being in its infancy.”
BCR also received a cease-and-desist letter a few years back from the FCC; one of the station's previous staff members kicked up the station's low-power FM signal, which we they do not have any more, way too high. “Someone at BU heard it about 15 miles away from here, when it should have been heard only on campus, and turned us in,” Hirsch said.
This article was done through an e-mail interview.