“Call, text, Facebook, whatever you want,” Mr. Heussler shouted to his listeners as he logged onto Facebook to check out who was posting on the show’s wall. Meanwhile, he sipped apple juice and fiddled with knobs on the audio board, plotting one of the day’s big activities: the videotaping of a campus groundbreaking. Who would shoot it? Someone who knew how to operate the station’s beloved Flip camera — flipping, as it’s called.
If none of this sounds like classic college radio, it’s not. Fredonia, a campus of 5,700 about an hour southwest of Buffalo, has two stations. And WDVL, the more popular, is so far removed from traditional radio it can’t even be found on the FM dial. Instead, that station streams on the Internet, which means tousled-haired disc jockeys in faded band T’s are constantly encouraging listeners to check out a rolling supply of podcasts, YouTube clips, photos and campus news on the station’s Web site.
Mr. Heussler, a senior majoring in audio-radio production, is general manager of both stations. He pointed boastfully at a printout of the station’s latest stats. “You could argue that WDVL has a bigger impact beyond the campus than we do on it,” he said. The station has about 350 online listeners a day; 40 percent of them live almost 300 miles away in the New York City area, while a mere 4 percent are on or near campus. Other log-in clusters? Los Angeles and the Czech Republic. “People listen from everywhere,” he said.
Fredonia’s radio station, with its tattered band posters and fading stickers, rickety desks and swivel chairs, and the occasional forlorn turntable or microphone jack, is plush by college standards. There is a mustard-colored couch from the 1960s in the lounge and an oversize banner of the call letters in red and black draped over an office divide. And nostalgically, a large closet houses thousands of dusty vinyls and CDs.
Most of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s 700 college members now stream on the Internet along with, or instead of, their broadcasting efforts. The Web’s freedom from Federal Communications Commission regulations is not the point. At stations like Fredonia’s, the goal is to transform themselves into the multimedia platforms they believe students with unprecedented tech appetites actually want, and it is changing the ethos, content and vibe of collegiate stations.