Broadcasting from the Viking Union, Western Washington University's student radio station KUGS-FM provides students with an alternative method for finding music.
At a time when finding new music to listen to is becoming easier and easier through streaming services like Spotify, why is campus radio necessary?
Associated Students Communications Director Olive Salas, an avid KUGS listener, pointed out the personal touch that comes with listening to a local, student-run station.
“What’s cool about KUGS specifically is there’s a chance you can hear someone you know on air as a musician, newsreader or DJ,” Salas said.
The station is staffed by student volunteers who play a curated selection of both fresh new music and lesser-known underground hits. Their main program, “Music for the Masses,” features mostly new and popular arrivals while their specialty shows, like “What The Femme” and “Transwave,” allow DJs to branch out and play music that fits a specific niche.
Andie Jennings, KUGS’s marketing coordinator, emphasizes that some music featured on KUGS cannot be heard anywhere else.
“DJs are exploring the music library and finding these gems of, like, underground bands from the ‘80s or vocal Seattle grunge that no one has heard of, and giving that music a second or third chance,” Jennings said. “So you might hear stuff that you literally can’t hear anywhere else.”
Jennings said that radio is nice for people who want to branch out of their comfort zone and listen to something they may not have found on their own.
Another reason to listen to the radio is to hear the personality of each DJ. Broadcasting a session not only puts their music selections on air but their voices between songs.
“You’re also getting the personality of the DJ. Our shows are not polished or pre-recorded, they’re raw,” Jennings said. “You’re getting commentary – some DJs do a great amount of research on the music to present it to the audience. So you’re just getting so much more care and attention.”
Scotty VanDryver, the program director at local Bellingham radio station KAFE 104.1 FM, echoes the importance of community and personality that comes with listening to radio.
“While the music we play may be available through other methods, radio ties it all in with our community,” VanDryver said.
Along with broadcasting, KUGS tables in Red Square and DJs at campus events. In the past, they have provided music for dances, faculty parties and more. While they do have an obligation to campus, they are also trying to have a presence in the greater community as well.
In its mission statement, KUGS states that they serve as a bridge from the university to the surrounding community.
DJs at KUGS work to provide Western students with a unique alternative soundtrack for their treks across campus. They are constantly looking for new music to play, as well as older tracks that may not have had a chance to shine.
KUGS can be found on the radio at 89.3FM in Bellingham or through their app, which is available on the App Store and on Google Play.
Lyra Montemayor (she/they) is a campus life reporter for The Front. She is a second year student at Western and a visual journalism major. In her free time, she likes watching movies and spending time with friends.