I remember my first bite of the radio bug like it was yesterday. It was the wide world of college radio. I started my radio days as an on air personality at State University of New York at Potsdam, WRPS in 1985. The format was mostly Rock, but in 1986, I noticed a change on campus. Our entire basketball team was comprised of African Americans from inner cities from across the country. At every practice you could hear rap music blasting through the PA systems in the gym. I approached our student government about letting me do a rap show on the weekends to reach our ever changing student demographic. The answer was always no, no, no. One day on the air, I decided that I would do something new… I started scratching Pink Floyd, INXS, and The Police on air and mixing classic rock songs. After getting chewed out, they finally approved my Hip Hop show which allowed me to be credited with putting Hip-Hop on the map in upstate New York at WRPS. I hosted the show until 1988.
The majority of radio stations in the U.S. are labeled commercial radio stations, with non-commercial stations being the minority. The main difference between commercial and non-commercial radio comes down to how radio stations airs commercials. Commercial stations play ads in between shorter blocks of music. But public, non-commercial stations are legally prohibited from playing advertisements . There is only one reason for the difference in levels of advertising… MONEY!
College stations do make revenue to offset expenses. They do not actually accept advertising. They accept sponsorship and the sponsors receive a message acknowledging their support of the program. The sponsorship message can promote things like a web site address but not a call to action.
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