Burlington’s Better Alternative Radio

It is amazing what students can do when pressed and passionate. That is why the University of Vermont is home to many clubs and productions based off of our steadfastness, among the most prestigious is 90.1 WRUV, the student-run radio station on campus. There is no exaggeration in the term “student-run” here; save for several enthusiastic community members, WRUV is the “student-run” role model. Starting as one of the first AM broadcasting stations in the city of Burlington, WRUV started broadcasting music in 1956 and by the 1970’s was strictly FM. In 1997, hopping on board the dot com revolution, WRUV began streaming on the web, and continues to provide web streaming as well as pod casting today (www.uvm.edu/~wruv). Casey Kasem seekers beware. The DJ’s at WRUV are not there to play you songs that can be heard on any other radio station. They pride themselves on their knowledge of unique and rare music and even have certain requirements regarding the popularity of the songs they play. Absolutely NO song that has appeared on the Billboard top 100 will be played on WRUV, be it “Bennie and the Jets” or “Baby One More Time.” Another rule for these highly skilled DJs is that 25% of their show must be new music from the station. Sometimes getting CDs in weeks ahead of their scheduled release dates, the station has shelves and shelves of the obscurely obscure as well as more hyped-up stars-to-be, and that’s just the new music. Upon entering the WRUV station, there’s a whiff of worn vinyl and the walls appear to be wallpapered in shelves of CDs. It’s not wallpaper, however, but thousands of pieces of audible art. Behind the on-air studio door is where the proverbial magic happens: turntables, tape decks, and microphones are the DJ’s livelihood, at least for the next two or three hours. Aside from a few FCC regulations (a.k.a. “The Man”), the on-air DJs are free to explore numerous genres of music or numerous artists within one specific genre. Although virtually all of the radio is “behind the scenes,” there is much more that goes into what is behind those scenes. Writers for Public Service Announcements, Music Directors who keep track of record labels, non-student representatives, and even an appointed FCC position tie the entire station into a sweet sounding, albeit underappreciated, realm of expression. WRUV, like any other club or group on campus, is welcome to newcomers who are enthusiastic about music and/or the communications field. It offers DJ training each semester and is brought to us by listeners like you.