The Radio Bug is Biting

Cody McGehee |Station director Brian Frank DJs on FM90 during the station’s participation in College Radio Day Oct. 3.

Tyler Williams and Amanda Castro-Crist

Cody  McGehee |Station director Brian Frank DJs on FM90 during the station’s participation in College Radio Day Oct. 3.
Cody McGehee |Station director Brian Frank DJs on FM90 during the station’s participation in College Radio Day Oct. 3.

Amarillo College’s Cutting Edge, FM90, participated in the fourth annual College Radio Day Oct. 3, joining 700 other college radio stations in the United States and 30 other countries across the world.

The event began in 2010 as a way to bring awareness to college radio stations and encourage listeners to tune in. Each year since, the student radio station at AC has participated in the activities, bringing former and current radio talents to the airwaves.

FM90 was one of the first stations to join the first College Radio Day, station director Brian Frank said.

“When Rob Quicke started this up, he was hoping for 35 to 50 (stations),” he said. “It was over 200.”

It’s continued to grow since then, he said, with more and more of the 1,400-plus college stations across the country joining each year.

This year, FM90 included more than 25 current and former on-air talents who took to the mic to share stories and experiences from their time at the station and how the things they learned helped them in their current careers. While some now are in the professional radio business, others have gone on to different careers.

Former on-air staff included Amy Hart from 100.9 the Eagle, local media icon Chris Albracht, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Tony Rocha, local DJ Lacey Dean and David Duenes, former host of the ’90s show, “The Fm90s,” and current cohost of “The Handsome Man Show” with his brother, Robert Duenes, at West Texas A&M University.

They connected with even more former staffers through phone interviews. At noon, the station joined a simulcast where all the stations participating aired the same show.

“You got a taste of college radio from across the world,” said Kyle Arrant, Panhandle PBS and FM90 senior engineer.

Local musician Jack Mustard also came in-studio to give an interview about his music. Current on-air members including TJ Moore, Cierra Weaver, Travis Kemp and David Lovejoy shared how being on the current staff has changed their outlook on radio.

College Radio Day acts as a homecoming of sorts for many of those who participate, Arrant said. It gives those who have gone into other fields a chance to be back in the DJ seat.

“Once you get bit by the radio bug, you want to be on the air,” Arrant said. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to talk to that many people.”

But reconnecting with each other and listeners is not the only purpose College Radio Day serves.

“It’s a way for all of the college radio stations, low power and high power, to come together for one day and share how their stations have made an impact on their students and community,” Arrant said.

One impact is the difference a station can make on the music scene. College radio gives artists who may be unsigned, independent and local the chance to get their name out to the public.

“We play songs that were broken on college radio, songs that don’t have another avenue,” Arrant said, listing bands such as the Killers, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie and Vampire Weekend.

There’s also the impact the staff makes on fellow students through community outreach.

This year, FM90 teamed up with the Amarillo College food pantry for “Jamming with FM90.” Students and listeners were able to bring jams and jellies to the FM90 studios and grab coffee provided by Roaster’s and doughnuts from the Donut Stop.

“Jamming with FM90 gave us the perfect opportunity to help the food pantry,” said David Lovejoy, FM 90 student program director.

Finding ways to give back to the community is one on a list of various skills being on the air allows students to improve. Arrant said they also learn how to interact with members of the public, improve their public speaking and learn the technology in an ever-changing field.

Frank said the experience benefits anyone who passes through the station.

“You can gain something from being on your college radio station, no matter what you do in life,” Frank said.

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