A few weeks ago, an interesting article was put under my radar: How NPR Killed College Rock. After a brief history of college radio and a quick lesson on Yuppies, the author goes on to argue that once NPR came to town, college stations were forced to tone down their wattages, which killed their stations. Stations that could once be heard over 100 miles away were now only able to reach listeners with the same zip code. After this, it was all downhill. Indie artists had nowhere to go. Punk was gentrified. A more marketable, less edgy genre had taken over. Indie (a very broad term that, in my opinion, cannot be defined) was now being marketed to the mainstream.
But did NPR really kill College Rock? Maybe, at least for a little while. In the ’70s and ’80s, most music was consumed via radio. Take that beloved college station that plays obscure music away, and under-discovered music is dead. However, in present time, NPR has redeemed itself. If anything, it’s helping College Rock thrive. With shows such as Tiny Desk, All Songs Considered, and a local West Virginia Public Broadcasting favorite, Joni Deutsch’s weekly show A Change of Tune brings College Rock to the forefront.
If dedicated Yuppies and Punks still hate NPR, the internet has made it easier for college radio stations to reach people that are no longer in the same zip code. Nearly every college station I have explored has an online streaming service. Some stations are even strictly internet-only due to a lack of budget. Unless Yuppies and Punks have resisted the smartphone, it’s extremely easy to be exposed to College Rock 24/7 (given their favorite station is on the air 24 hours).
In 2016, College Rock is accessible to all walks of life – Punks, Yuppies, and mainstream listeners can all find their next favorite under-exposed artist via college radio stations.