The voice of Gustavus
I’m writing this sitting in the KGSM studio in Beck Hall. My weekly two-hour radio show is currently “on-air,” and I have some time to kill while I play some of the great songs I discovered last week.
DJ-ing has basically become an unpaid part-time job, and I love every moment of it . .. Well, most moments anyway.
I currently hate this moment as I stare at the streaming computer and see that I have a whopping total of two listeners. I could chalk it up to a failure in advertising, as I didn’t send out my weekly Facebook event invitation until the night before, but it’s not.
The sad truth is that even on a good night most of the other DJs and I can usually expect to reach less than 20 listeners at a time.
Unfortunately, KGSM had a long history of apathetic disinterest from the Gustavus community. I took the liberty of reading through some old Gustavian Weekly articles online on the College Archives’ Digital Collections page (yes, that exists, too), and learned that KGSM was started in 1972 by Gusties Gary Hoff and Stephen Oates after the ultimate failure of KGAC, the first Gustavus radio station.
A 1975 article stated that approximately 35 percent of students were regular listeners. A few years later, the listenership dropped to only 25 percent. A 1975 issue described KGSM as a “not-so-venerable institution here on campus,” and another article from 1985 stated that KGSM “lacks desperately in listenership.”
Almost 30 years later, this statement is still true. Even with the impressive advancements in technology and facilities, KGSM is still an afterthought in the minds of many.
What I can’t seem to understand is “why?” You could blame the internet, sure. Spotify, YouTube, and countless other sites and services allow anyone with a computer to access virtually any music they want to hear on-demand for free. Radio has never presented such luxury.
However, radio has the potential to introduce you to the latest music, news, and ideas in ways that iTunes and SoundCloud cannot.
College radios like KGSM, free from the clutches of commercial broadcasting, is particularly special, as we have the power to play and say whatever we want and whatever YOU want.
In the Sept. 29, 1972 issue of The Gustavian Weekly, KGSM announced its on-campus establishment, stating, “This is your radio station, and you make it what it is. It is our policy to establish a firm relationship with the student body and to provide immediate information and services that deem purposeful in our quest in giving the campus of Gustavus a better and much more enjoyable atmosphere for living.”
40 years later, I still believe that this is our quest. Like The Gustavian Weekly, KGSM is a media outlet designed to be a voice for the Gustavus community. So make that voice heard!
KGSM streams online Sundays through Thursdays usually from 4 p.m. until midnight and consists of two-hour long shows—each with their own unique style and content. I challenge you to tune in to a show or two this week—it’s simple and can be done while doing homework—and then let us know what you think! The more that you listen and respond to what is being played or talked about on the shows, the more we can grow and change as an organization to be exactly what Gustavus students and faculty are looking for.
(KGSM is currently in the process of getting a new website up and running for easier access to the show, but until that’s finished, the streaming links can be found at kgsm.blog.gustavus.edu).