By Erik Myers
At a time when cash-strapped colleges are selling off their FM licenses en masse, what’s the biggest issue facing KCSU-FM, the student-run station at Colorado State University? Try community involvement.
“Up until this point,” says local director Nic Turiciano, “[KCSU] has done a pretty good job of representing independent music, but not Fort Collins music.”
Turiciano, a journalism senior who sings for indie-psych band Cotton Keys, stresses that former music directors and DJs have had success in connecting with the city’s upstart scene. He just believes the relationship could go further.
Financially, KCSU is not toeing its own grave. It shares an annual sum of $500,000 in student fees with CSU’s other student media outlets, and recently received an $80,000 injection from the university to upgrade it’s studio and production room with digital mixing consoles and produce recordings in stereo instead of mono.
Turiciano says the switch will boost the quality of KCSU’s in-studio performances. Judging by the slew of social media accounts he’s started for the program, he’s focusing his attention on Local Loco, the station’s long-time local music program. Airing Monday nights from 7-9pm, the show puts the spotlight on local artists. Before or after they sit down for an interview with host Roger Maddocks, they perform a few tunes on the air. Turiciano wants the program to help boost KCSU’s visibility, but he also hopes to bridge a gap between the music community and CSU’s student population.
“Not enough students are involved in the scene,” he says. “It’s not that they’re not interested – they just haven’t noticed. No one has shown them that there is really good [music] in Fort Collins.”
But within the commitment to students lies an obstacle: Only CSU students can work or volunteer for the station. Such policy isn’t unusual in college radio, but a number of stations, including Radio 1190 in Boulder, allow community members to volunteer and host shows.
Michael Sakas, KCSU station manager, stands behind the policy, disagreeing with the notion that it hampers the station’s reach.
“Being a student-run station is a lot more beneficial to the students who work here,” she says, noting the budget built off of student fees. “That experience is invaluable. It does limit the community access, but we always try to involve the community through our content.”
In addition to the revamped Local Loco, Turiciano has bumped up the time allotted to local music during primetime hours to twenty minutes per two hours. Sakas adds that the station is looking for a way to hold a benefit concert without getting entangled in the messy legal limitations attached with the non-profit status.
Turiciano seems certain that KCSU will make itself known in time.
“I expect to graduate with the local section just starting to gain momentum, where the person who takes over after me will have a base to work off of,” he says. “I think that’s a reasonable expectation. Stuff takes time.”
Find KCSU online at kcsufm.com, or tune the radio dial to 90.5 FM to listen in.
Editor’s Note: Erik Myers was a former music director at KCSU.