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KRRC Forsakes Terrestrial Broadcast

By Andrew Choi '13 on February 24, 2012 03:24 PM

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Two semesters ago, I was DJ at KRRC. Broadcast on Friday afternoons, "Get Naked Radio"--a showcase of electronic dance music that my friends and I put together every week--was slotted between several hours of dead air. This came as a bit of a surprise to us, as we initially believed Friday afternoons, sandwiched between my last class in Eliot Hall and dinner at Commons--was "prime time" for KRRC. Right.

As the semester unfolded, we began to grasp the hard truth that no one was listening. Even on days when the transmitter was functioning properly, our broadcasting radius barely extended beyond the library. And those who would hypothetically listen to Get Naked Radio--our friends--were usually sitting on the beat-up couches strewn across the radio station.

So I was sad but hardly surprised when KRRC terminated its 100-watt terrestrial broadcast last year. In fact, November 30, 2011 marked the last day that KRRC broadcast on the FM dial. Reed has since donated its FM license to the non-profit grassroots group Common Frequency.The move came at the heels of a year-long saga that ultimately ended in KRRC losing its frequency (97.9) to KRNQ, a commercial alternative rock station owned by Cumulus Media. This was the third time KRRC had been bumped from its frequency by a commercial station. (For context: commercial stations can essentially "overtake" KRRC's frequency because of their high power broadcasting license. KRRC's broadcasting license, a secondary-service license phased out by the FCC in 1978, only allows for a broadcast radius the size of campus, if not smaller.)

In addition to its frequency woes, KRRC has suffered from longstanding technical and financial problems. Station management could not pay for the legal costs necessary to comply with FCC regulations, not to mention basic upkeep and maintenance of the station due to fluctuating student enthusiasm.

In the end, KRRC decided to forsake the airwaves and focus on online broadcasting instead. "Going online is, honestly, better for the station because it will save us money and time, and will keep us from having dead space," station manager Alexa Ross '12 told the Quest last semester.

The station began testing online broadcasts last year. The current station manager, Rose Lewis '13, says the station is now more accessible to the public than it was before. "When my show was streaming online last year, I had people in France tuning in, whereas the [FM] broadcast only ever extended a little bit past the edge of campus," Lewis wrote in an email.

Although broadcasting through cyberspace seems like a huge leap forward for KRRC, I can't help but feel a pang of regret that the old antenna has fallen (permanently) silent. I'll miss the jokes about whether the equipment is working and the existential uncertainty of whether anyone could actually be listening. Still, I suppose the prospect of reaching listeners across the globe--without the hassle of federal regulations--is too tempting to resist.

Check out this great piece on the early days of KRRC.

Find KRRC online at www.krrcfm.com