Many students here are probably unaware of the fact that we have a campus radio station… sort of. This isn’t a column that will tell you to listen to that station, either. It’s quite the opposite.
KCSN is based on campus, receives its Federal Communications Commission license through CSUN offices, but on the whole, is nothing like a college radio station should be. It certainly doesn’t have any music or programming that the average student at Cal State Northridge would have an interest in listening to. The station broadcasts nothing but classical music from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekdays. When KCSN is not playing classical music, its volunteer broadcasters are spinning Broadway show tunes, opera, or something called “Madly Cocktail.” These volunteers may be some of the same people who don’t want CSUN students to park on their street, but have no problem hijacking our radio station.
They call the format “Arts and Roots” radio. My personal point of view is that most music made after 1995 stinks, so I clearly don’t have the same musical tastes as most CSUN students. But even I know that what KCSN plays is not what CSUN students want to listen to.
The KCSN station recently expanded their broadcast range, adding more of what they call “potential listeners.” They don’t measure actual listeners, because there probably aren’t any who aren’t relatives or personal friends of the hosts. So when they talk about expanding to 400,000 more potential listeners, I just yawn. The logic that counts CSUN students as potential KCSN listeners is the same logic that would count that kid who played Webster as a potential NBA All-Star.
KCSN uses students to staff their newsroom, and those students have won many awards. I definitely won’t criticize that part of the station, as I have spent time there, and found it to be a great learning opportunity. Since those students have been so successful, why not allow other students to be involved in other aspects of the station?
The model for a college radio station should be KCSB, which emanates from the campus of UC-Santa Barbara. KCSB allows students access to their studio and lets them host their own shows after a semester of training. The mix of programming at KCSB includes hip-hop, rock, and punk music that students in the 21st century listen to, with public affairs programming mixed in for the community. They even set aside blocks of time to cover UCSB Gaucho sports.
KCSN, on the other hand, doesn’t even cover CSUN athletics. This Thursday night, when our basketball team is playing for a shot at the NCAA Tournament, those with their radio dials turned to 88.5 FM will hear folk and roots music on “Down Home with Chuck Taggart.” How exciting. During the baseball team’s game on Sunday afternoon, KCSN will instead be broadcasting “Red Hot with Alan Larman.” Whether it’s with the current CSUN play-by-play team, or just students who want to be the next Chick Hearn, coverage of CSUN athletics is definitely something that should be part of the KCSN programming schedule.
These programming changes would boost KCSN to something more than it already is, and maybe make students more aware of all we have going on here at Cal State Northridge. Until then, 88.5 will be a number more likely to show up on thermometers in May than anybody’s radio dial.
If KCSN wants to continue using the Cal State Northridge name, it should have to show some signs of appealing to CSUN students, instead of their grandparents.
Dylan Boggs is a senior broadcast journalism major.