Picking up the tempo on broadcasting

Kevin Nelson/The USD Vista

Kevin Nelson/The USD Vista

USD Radio’s Exec attempts to amplify the hype for student DJs


USD Radio has officially begun public, live broadcasting out of their small, hidden studio on the fourth floor of the Student Life Pavilion. The student organization has undergone many changes since people have been able to tune in to the station last year. The club has overcome many challenges, but some obstacles remain in the way of their success.

Founded in 2009, USD Radio has seemingly had a rebirth since it was last broadcasting. The student organization had difficulty implementing some of the plans it had last semester and therefore was unable to broadcast. The studio went quiet for the entire semester and the stagnation swept the club under the rug and nearly out of the minds of the student body.

However with a new executive team, equipment,  schedule, rules, along with many new DJs, USD Radio has recently resurfaced.

USD Radio’s executive team consists of Jackson Yeung, station director; John Barnum, editor-in-chief; Michele Demaio, social media; Jae Pearl, marketing; Bailey Marie, finance; and Set Lu, communications.

Sophomore Janek Bielski has recently joined USD Radio to run a show with his fraternity brother, sophomore Tadzio Dlugolecki.  Inspired by England radio, such as BBC Radio 1, Bielski and Dlugolecki launched a show of their own, featuring many different styles of EDM.

One new feature of the radio station is their block schedule, which stylistically groups DJs’ shows into segments at different times of the day and throughout the week. Now students will know when to tune in to listen to Oldies/Classic Rock, Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B, Electronic, Talk, Indie/Alternative, Pop/Top 40, Classical/Jazz, or Variety.

The studio has also had a moderate makeover, revamped with updated equipment and broadcasting software. DJs can take advantage of the studio now fixed with a new mixing board, mics, and even a DJ controller rig for those who wish to perform their mixes live as if they’re headlining a music festival. DJs may now host live performances in the studio.

With studio training sessions, new DJs like Bielski and Dlugolecki are easily able to begin broadcasting.

“The computer software and applications that we run to broadcast are easy to use, which helps new DJs like us,” Bielski said.

Also new to the operations of USD Radio is 24-hour broadcasting. DJs won’t necessarily be on air at every moment, but there will  be some sort of sound omitting from the studio and into the public realm at all times.

In addition to music, the student organization also provides a variety of content including concert and event coverage, album reviews, and even artist interviews.

Still, there are issues that inhibit USD Radio from widespread success. Listenership, which is the total number of people tuned in at any given time, and the retention rate, which estimates the average amount of time a listener is tuned in to the show for, have always been primary issues for the radio station. Marketing for USD Radio falls short at creating large awareness amongst the student body.

Sophomore Cameron Cotton is a new DJ to USD Radio and runs a music show called “Curated DYN4$TY Radio.”

“If there is a focus on marketing the DJs and their shows than students may explore the ones they want to keep up with,” Cotton said.

Even if awareness levels were higher, it is still difficult to lure in listeners with the ease of access to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud. However, USD Radio has combated this issue by making the broadcasts available to listen to through an app, TuneIn Radio. Before students had to listen to the live stream on their computers. With the ability to listen on the go, there is hope for increasing listenership.

Cotton believes that there are other factors, such as lyric censorship, that may also be hindering persuading students to tune in.

“The concept of listening to the radio has been at a decline due to options like Spotify and Apple music where we can have custom playlists,” Cotton said. “So it’s hard to get people to listen to a show for an hour given their schedule. Another challenge is having to censor the lyrics to songs. Current popular genres contain explicit lyrics so there would have to be some flexibility in that area.”

However, not all shows have equal listenership. Effective marketing, a compelling show, the time and genre of the show, or strong support of friends and family could attract a larger audience.

Bielski exemplifies that the student radio shows could still show some success against the heavy competition from music streaming services. He discussed the surprising success of his and Dlugolecki’s first broadcast of their show “Jin and Tadek.”

“We actually only had our first broadcast last Wednesday, but our listenership was pretty astounding,” Bielski said. “I must’ve had 40-50 people message me from far and wide, one even as far as New Zealand, saying they loved tuning in. And of course our mothers are big fans.”

For some DJs it’s less important how many people are listening and more about having a medium of expression and a space to create something they enjoy.

Bielski spoke positively about the opportunity to collaborate in the space of the USD Radio’s studio.

“We are just trying to have as much fun with it as possible; we genuinely love going in that booth once a week for an hour and collaborating on a creative front,” Bielski said. “It’s where we want to be. Bottom line though, I’m in that booth because I love music of all kinds and want to give off that love to the listeners, regardless if there was one person listening to our show or 1000.”

Since last semester, USD Radio, along with The USD Vista and USD TV, consolidated under one parent site, USD Student Media.

USD Radio executives explain that the conjoining of the three media outlets benefits all facets of media down the road. Being independent entities the radio team worries that working together with USD TV and the USD Vista will be biggest challenge.

USD Radio claims that there is more to the station than offering a place for them to broadcast and play music. While the club is invested in increasing its influence on campus, they also emphasize on the success of their DJs as well as the USD student community. The team states that they are collaborating with the Communication Department to bring in professionals from the news, TV, and radio industry to inspire current students that would like to work in those fields.