Unique and non-musical college radio program ideas?
July 27, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Unique and non-musical ideas for a college radio program?

My college radio station has space for new programs next year, and I'd like to get involved.

Background Info:

- My college is in the Baltimore area.

- I can't do a musical program because a) I don't have know enough songs and b) I have questionable taste in music. Anything that overcomes these, musical or not, is fine with me!

- Some hobbies: movies, games, food, exploring new places, talking to people. I could just do a weekly commentary/review, but I'm searching for something unconventional.

Thank you!
posted by facehugger to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about having different people come on to interview you?

Describing the week's event in iambic pentameter or similar interesting format.

Who says that music has to be something mainstream or conventional? How about recording local street artists and discussing their music on your show?
posted by Leezie at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2011

i've been involved in college radio for 15 years now at three different stations.

- don't immediately write off doing a music program. the station will generally have a current playlist of albums from which you are required to play a certain amount as well as a library to draw from. depending on the station, there may be reviews on them to describe the music.

- doing a weekly show well is a lot more effort than you'd imagine. the main advantage of doing a music show is that it doesn't take a serious amount of extra time outside the show, maybe an hour before the show to pull out music that looks interesting and listen to samples.

- consider talking to the station about their non-music programming. different stations i've been involved with have had news, sports and comedy programs. some of them want to do these things but it's often hard with just one person to get them off the ground

- it sounds like you might be interested in an interview-formatted show, if this is the case talk to the station about what's worked there in the past. scheduling guests can be difficult and interviewing is definitely an art, especially if you do it live. consider pre-taping and editing interviews and then airing them as part of the show. this will take more time but allows you greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and the final product you present
posted by noloveforned at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

--Chat with a professor, or various campus experts, about current events. Topics: "The economy" or "Trends in fall TV programming" or "New and notable books" or something.

--FOOD. Now, I was told in my radio production class that food is a tough one because you can't see, smell or taste it. Still, there are so many ways you could talk about food, agriculture, issues and policies, recipes, whatever. We had a lot of fun putting a half-hour program together. In one segment I talked to two people who had wacky food-related collections (mustard and canned meat); in another, my cohost and I went to a Japanese/Korean food store and then brought back the wackiest things we could find to sample and describe on-air. Then we had food-related music between the segments.

--Spotlight a different student org or project each week.

--Advice or call-in show.
posted by Madamina at 8:46 AM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: In the past, my my college station has had a show that had video game news, reviews, interviews and music, and it was great. The host was a journalism student who loved video games, and he did a great job making it interesting to non-gamer geeks. And we've had a couple attempts at in-house produced radio dramas, from other people's scripts, and pre-written works, complete with sound multiple actors and effects.

Other non-traditional music shows we've had include a kids music and stories show and shows focused solely on 7" records. For the former, if you don't have access to much in the way of recorded songs, you can get some friends together and read stories, either live or pre-record them and add some musical interludes and sound effects. For the latter, if your station has a library of records, the 7"s often get overlooked, and there are probably some gems buried in there.

And if nothing else, you can play old-time radio dramas (MeFi self-link). You could either run a couple serial episodes in a row, getting more of the story told at once, or play a bunch of shows in sequence, following the same show sequence each week.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2011

And I'll agree that a weekly show can be a lot of work. I've done one for over a decade, and I have enough music that I can grab a bag full of CDs and be set to cover a few hours, but that's not the best way to do things. Old-time radio (OTR) would be the easiest, as you could burn a show's worth of music on a CDr, play it off of an iPod-like device, or the station's computers (depending on the station's set-up). But making a show can be a lot of fun, and if you're already on campus and have access to a recording/editing studio at the station or elsewhere, making a radio drama show is a lot of fun (but can be a huge amount of work).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:50 AM on July 27, 2011

I would take a look at WFMU's schedule. There are some pretty interesting things going on over there.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:58 AM on July 27, 2011

There should be more radio documentary projects like This American Life. Ira Glass's shows are pre-recorded and many segments are drawn from other documentary producers. Then it is just a matter of letting the tape roll during the show.
posted by JJ86 at 8:59 AM on July 27, 2011

I can't do a musical program because a) I don't have know enough songs and b) I have questionable taste in music. Anything that overcomes these, musical or not, is fine with me!

One way you could get around this would be to base the playlist entirely off of requests, or play the "top ten new songs" from some sort of external list so that you don't have to come up with the music yourself.

Some hobbies: movies, games, food, exploring new places, talking to people.

You could always just pick a new topic each week and go interview random people on the street. Maybe find topics in the school newspaper each week and ask students their opinion on them. Editing the whole thing together and getting enough good material to fill a whole show would probably be the hardest parts. As others have said, you should probably avoid trying to interview people live on air since you probably won't be good at it and it's difficult to schedule enough people to fill up a regular show.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: Maybe ask friends/family/passersby to name their favorite album. Each week, play through the album while talking with the person about it. Do you like this song? What do you think the songwriter was after? Would you change anything? etc.

Maybe you have a friend or acquaintance or two or three who know more about music who could be part of a panel. Facehugger and friends talkin' music with a new person each week who picks the album.
posted by chazlarson at 9:13 AM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: If you like games and movies you could do a music show where you play selections from game soundtracks and/or film scores. That would be sort of an interesting show. I'd listen.
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:15 AM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: You could do a music show with themed requests- like, one week is "music that reminds you of your ex" and one is "weird but awesome music your dad likes" and one is "guilty pleasure music"... on and on. At first you'd probably have to get most of your suggestions from other radio people and friends, but set up a Facebook page and plug it on the air and soon you'll get tons of requests, I bet. Actually, you could do this and make it part music, part stories. Have people call in (ahead of time probably) and tell funny stories about their ex or their dad or whatever, and run those as well as the music.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:27 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If your station doesn't already have a show dedicated to it.. Local music. I do a show for KUMD here in Duluth that is all local and regional music.
posted by edgeways at 9:40 AM on July 27, 2011

You could do a show on local misconceptions - record (or poll for) the misconceptions outside your local supermarket, then call up an expert to set the record straight. Voila, your listeners learn something, that you have evidence they didn't already know.
(maybe start with misconceptions on climate change, & get an expert via the Climate Science Rapid Response Team...)
posted by ahaynes at 9:40 AM on July 27, 2011

Is it WTMD? I would suggest finding a musically perverse partner and setting yourself up as a host. You should start showrunning as soon as possible. I know it will be corny, sitting in your apartment with your co-host (or she or he could simply help you put the playlists together) and then get the sound down. Radio on a regular basis is all about clockwork.
posted by parmanparman at 9:51 AM on July 27, 2011

A few of my best friends started a radio theater program at our college's radio station. It was awesome.
It was also time consuming and hard, but they were all really into it and produced some pretty awesome stuff.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:51 AM on July 27, 2011

All college radio DJs have questionable taste in music - that's why they're on college radio. And I say that being a former college radio DJ/Exec.

Most stations will make you do some form of training/apprenticing/shadowing, and you will learn a lot from your mentor DJ including music. Also just going through the station library is awesome.
posted by radioamy at 10:16 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

btw - you may not like all of the shows or djs at the station but NEVER criticize any of the shows. i would never call anyone else's taste questionable, you're welcome to refer to your own taste as such (some DJs will even take pride in it).

if someone is doing college radio, they're probably passionate about music and everyone is constantly learning and developing their own taste. i know a ridiculous number of college radio DJs across the country and while we may not listen to the same stuff i would never question a single track any of them chose to play. just because you don't agree or understand doesn't mean they're wrong.
posted by noloveforned at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: An organization I belonged to as an undergrad hosted a monthly lecture series where we would bring in experts in unusual fields or persons with unusual jobs. We heard from an fbi agent, a tv actor, a lady who prepared her own tea leaves, and others like that. It would have made a cool radio program.
posted by thewestinggame at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2011

There should be more radio documentary projects like This American Life. Ira Glass's shows are pre-recorded and many segments are drawn from other documentary producers. Then it is just a matter of letting the tape roll during the show.

Though I agree with the sentiment, I'm currently producing a radio documentary and will pass on the advice I got yesterday: an hour of recorded material per minute of finished piece. You can argue with it, but not enough that adding on transcription or editing or the tedium of arranging interviews wouldn't more than make up for it. This would be a MASSIVE undertaking.

Is there something locally that you're into and could review weekly, or review with an invited guest particular to the topic? I like hearing opinions on things culturally, locally and foodily, if the person's passionate about it.
posted by carbide at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2011

Restaurant reviews, with guest reviewers. Sort of like Chicago's PBS show, Check Please.

Or, same idea, but about places to go, things to see, exhibits, street fairs, festivals. Again, with a guest (or recommender), so it's not just you and so you have someone to interview and to compare your experience and your guest's.
posted by bentley at 12:02 PM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: When I was in college I would guest star on my friends' radio show around finals: I'd do tarot readings for people that would call in. It was a fun diversion from final exams, people were anonymous so we got some really dishy questions, and it prepared me for a summer of working as a telephone psychic in order to make ends meet.

Other fun things we'd do:

Call up the national UFO hotline and ask them about some of the UFO calls that they had received

Call up reference librarians at the local library and ask weird questions ("What is the circumference of a giraffe's ankle? When seeing eye dogs poo, how do the visually impaired owners know where to pick the poo up?"). I have to say, I'm a librarian now and every once in a while I'll get a weird question like this that I'm SURE is being asked as a joke. But I love it.

Interview people that are performing/lecturing/presenting at the school

The Era of the Mix Tape is long past us, but my friends would announce a theme for the next week's show and people could leave messages in their mailboxes with suggestions for songs on that theme. Then my friends would assemble two ~30-minute playlists and play them on the air - no commercials, they would smush all of the commercials into the space between the 30-minute playlists - solely for the purpose of people recording the mixes off the air.

Man, I miss college radio.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have questionable taste in music.

If by 'questionable taste', you mean 'not popular', then it doesn't matter. It's college radio, that's what it's for. If you want to play k-pop and video game music or whatever, go for it.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2011

Best answer: I used to do a weekly movie review show. The school newspaper got free tickets to advance screenings of movies and I was jealous. I found out from them who their contact was with the movie promoter and started getting free tickets sent to the station. Easy as that. Then me and a buddy would go see free movies every week and talk about them on the air. Good gig if you can get it.
posted by pwb503 at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2011

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