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For more than a century, radio stations on college campuses have been places where students can explore and get experience with various careers in different arenas such as music, news, business management, talk shows, technology and much more. In addition, college students bring with them voices that advocate for the concerns of their generation, which is often not as welcomed in professional broadcasting media spaces. 

College Radio Day is here to honor and feature the vital impact that college radio has on the lives of the students and the communities they serve.

History of College Radio Day

The presence of college radio in the United States can be traced back to the 1920s when several different colleges (all who claim to be the first!) began their radio stations. The one most commonly given credit was Union College in Schenectady, New York, who started its radio station WRUC in October of 1920. Even earlier on the same campus, in 1915, the Radio Club was founded which encouraged amateur students to engage with broadcasting music over the radio waves.

College Radio Day is an event that was first celebrated on October 11, 2011 with the purpose of increasing awareness and raising the profile of college radio stations, encouraging the public to get on board and listen! An idea of Dr. Rob Quicke of William Paterson University, the inaugural event had more than 350 college stations who participated from all over North America. In 2012, the event grew all over the globe and added the name World College Radio Day.

By 2014, College Radio Day became a non-profit organization called the College Radio Foundation, which continues to organize the day. Recent years have shown participation from many more stations – over 700 college radio stations throughout at least 50 countries.

Each year, the foundation provides a theme that helps people to target their celebrations and some of the recent themes have included:

  • Defenders of Democracy (2024)
  • Where All Voices Are Welcome (2023)
  • Voices for Peace (2022)
  • Hear it First (2019)

How to Celebrate College Radio Day

Turn the radio on and check out some of these ways to get started celebrating College Radio Day:

Listen to College Radio

Clearly, the most basic thing a person can do to celebrate College Radio Day is to join in with hundreds of thousands of other people and switch on that local college radio station. Sure, radio listenership has declined a bit with the prevalence of the internet, but it certainly isn’t dead! With at least 600 college radio stations across the US and many more worldwide, there are tons of opportunities to listen in. Those who don’t happen to have a college radio station locally need not miss out – just hop onto a college radio website and listen from there.

Raise Funds for College Radio

While radio has taken a hit in recent years due to other media, the stations on most common campuses are still alive and well. But they are often short on funding. Students, teachers or local community members can get on board with College Radio Day by creating opportunities for fund-raisers that will provide more opportunities for students whose lives will be impacted by the experience of working for their college radio station.

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