K-UTE should use ASUU funding, FM frequency, local bands

By By Andrew Cengiz

By Andrew Cengiz

The U’s radio station, KUTE 1620 AM, has a long history of struggling to survive and keep its funding.

The last major funding cut occurred April 18, 2002, when the Associated Students of the University of Utah cut the station’s budget from $24,000 to $8,000 a year. This year, KUTE has new management, Distribution Director Bob Kubichek and Director of Marketing Sean Halls. In light of past struggles, Halls and Kubichek are doing a couple of things to turn KUTE around.

While looking to stream over the Internet and employ a larger staff, KUTE should embrace the following: utilize ASUU funding, attain an FM frequency and turn to local bands.

Although Halls and Kubichek have commendable plans to make KUTE self-sustainable, they should accept ASUU’s paltry funding until the station is on its own two feet.

KCSU is the student radio station of Colorado State University, which has been student-run as long as KUTE. KCSU has been highly successful and featured on MTV.com as one of the top college stations in the United States.

KCSU started out being funded “almost entirely by (Colorado State University), but now we’re almost completely independent,” said Steve Hendriksen, co-music director of KCSU. KCSU is now a free-market entity raising funds almost entirely on its own.

This initial support is essential for a growing program. However, ASUU could help by temporarily increasing funding.

Whether or not increased funding enables online streaming, an FM transmitter will be essential to KUTE’s long-term success. Beyond the fact that few people listen to AM radio, KUTE’s current AM frequency barely reaches the edges of campus for those who do listen.

KUTE has struggled to get FM, Hall said, because it gets stuck in a chicken versus the egg conversation with ASUU. KUTE has asked for funding “to get the FM broadcaster, but ASUU says, “but nobody listens to KUTE,'” he said. “But nobody listens to KUTE because the signal sucks.”

If the station is ever going to be a force, it will need more faith from ASUU. Even smaller programs in the state, such as that of Dixie State, have an FM frequency. If KUTE is here to stay, it will need FM. However, if the station wants more funding, they need to take themselves more seriously. Not only in word, but in in who and what it broadcasts.

Local bands will propel KUTE in the right direction. KCSU initially played exclusively local bands, which was key to its growth. Georgia State University’s WRAS FM is another great example of college radio using local bands to climb to the top.

They “do not play singles or music found on commercial radio stations,” says the WRAS website. “We often play never-before-released music, as well as giving greater exposure to local bands.”

KUTE can’t compete with a better funded and staffed radio station by doing what it does. Finding a local niche would be the right step.
College radio is important because it keeps the medium new and alive.
Congress in the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act said, “A private corporation should be created to facilitate the development of public telecommunications.”

Although KUTE will always be a part of the U, it needs to be given the freedoms of a privatized radio station to truly “develop” a dying craft. If KUTE is going to succeed, it needs innovation, student support and some currently lacking trust from higher-ups.

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