The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival was dirty, sweaty and oh-so-fun for the thousands who rocked out in its massive, dusty parking lot venue in Austin, Texas.
After networking all day under the sweltering sun, staff from the University of Alaska Fairbanks radio station, KSUA, got a call from “mtvU,” a Viacom Media Network division of MTV targeted toward university students. They were requesting to interview KSUA because they were among the top five contenders for the Woodie Award for best college radio station in the nation.
KSUA general manager Rebecca File said they were fixing their hair and checking each other’s teeth in the reflection of their sunglasses, trying to look presentable.
Then an mtvU film crew popped up and asked, “How does it feel to win an mtvU Woodie Award for best college radio station?”
“We were caught off guard,” Brady Gross, music director, said. “It took a while for it to sink in. We kind of walked away like, ‘Uh, now what?’”
Gross, a music journalism junior, said KSUA staff didn’t think the station would win because of the sheer populations other states have over Alaska.
He said staff members from KSUA visit the SXSW music convention every March to check out new bands and get new music. The mtvU Woodie Awards, which are announced during the convention, recognize the best college radio stations in the nation. The stations that receive the most votes online win.
KSUA instantly gained connections. They were told that mtvU will come out to Fairbanks to film a show featuring KSUA’s top pick of music videos. Gross said he knew they had to organize everything when they “get back to earth” from the experience.
The first thing KSUA did was thank all their supporters, which include friends at UAA’s KRUA radio.
“We love KRUA radio and we know Audri (Pleas). We’ve been down there checking out their stuff, and they are awesome,” File said.
File, a music education senior, credits KRUA for opening her eyes to the world of college music. She grew up listening to the station in Wasilla.
“College radio is not as prevalent as it used to be. When they win awards like that and bring it back to Alaska, it lets people know how important college radio is to the success of student journalists,” KRUA station manager Audri Pleas said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”