By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor
If you are within the surrounding areas of San Marcos and you tune your radio to 89.9, you will hear one of the nation’s top college radio stations, KTSW, run by students of Texas State University. The sounds you hear stem from the radio’s indie influence and the school’s ever expanding student identity. KTSW features a wide variety of music and shows, and while it may seem easy to run music on-air, there are tons of things going on behind the scenes to make it happen.
It takes an army to run the station’s many departments and that is in no way an understatement. From social media and web content, to sports and news, KTSW constantly works to provide the best content for their audience. Aside from all of those departments, KTSW is still a radio station, at its foremost. KTSW’s program, production, traffic and Other Side Drive departments are the ones that are mostly in charge of what listeners hear when they tune in.
The program department is in charge of the music and shows that go on the air. They figure out what shows go on at what day and time and they’re in charge of making sure each show is ready with their music and live copy (announcements and such that are read on air) by the time they’re live. They are the DJs that you hear on air, playing the music you hear and they are essentially the voice of the station. The DJs here at KTSW put in a lot of work, curating music for their specialty shows, constantly setting levels and riding gain and just representing the station in the best way possible.
KTSW offers over 20 different kinds of programs, aside from their regular music. One of the specialty shows, Melodia, is hosted by Laura Valencia, the program director of KTSW, and her show features futuristic music, like chill trap and ambient beats. Kristopher Tondré, one of the hosts of The Cypher, showed his appreciation for Laura, giving her a big thanks.
“She’s the person I feel really keeps it all together and kills it every time she takes the air,” Tondré said.
Aside from specialty music shows, the station even offers talk shows, like Philosophy Talk, a show that discusses things from pop culture to science, morality and the human condition, and Ca$h Radio, a show that talks about the newest in business and advice when it comes to money in general.
The program department does an incredible job with providing a plethora of content so that there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
KTSW’s production department is in charge of providing all of the other things that go on-air that aren’t music. This includes things like commercials, promos and public service announcements that cover things across Texas State University and in the San Marcos area. They spend their time writing, recording and editing script, making sure each and every production is spot on and ready to play over the air.
Every single bit is created by the production department, a fact that production director Connor Schwanke is proud of.
“I think it’s fantastic that we get to do that and create everything,” Schwanke said. “We get to work with who we’re representing, we get to work with the community and create [and produce] scripts that represent them.”
His favorite part of the job is the creativity that it entails. Each and every production staff member gets to make something straight out of their imagination, and through different types of methods, create a finished product that allows them to fully realize their ideas.
Other Side Drive
Every weekday from 2 to 4 p.m., you can tune in to KTSW to hear some of the best on-air talent the station has to offer. The block is occupied by KTSW’s show Other Side Drive, which is different from the regular on-air hours in the sense that it is also a request block, where anyone can call in to say hi to our DJs and request the songs they want to hear. The show also has live guests, ranging from people around the community to even bands that perform live on air. Think of it as a community outreach show that features the San Marcos community.
Matthew Harrington, the executive producer of Other Side Drive, says his favorite part of the job is getting to interview local talent and having them perform live on the show.
“It’s always a good time,” Harrington said. “They’re always really nice and it’s just exciting,” Harrington said. Being a part of Other Side Drive allows Harrington to learn more about the local music community and all of the talent it has to offer.
The traffic department of KTSW is in charge of everything coming in and out of the station. This means keeping track of all the staff records for each and every single KTSW member, making sure they’re hired correctly, making sure they have access to all the KTSW resources and being able to contact them for any emergencies. Traffic is also in charge of scheduling the commercials. So, chances are, if you hear something on air in between music, traffic made sure that everything was set in place to go. The craziest part of it all is that the traffic department is a one man show!
Office and traffic manager Sam Herbert essentially runs it all. Despite the job entailing a ton of work and effort, Herbert loves hearing everything that he’s put together run on the radio.
“My favorite part [is when I] produce stuff and get to see it go on quickly,” Herbert said. “It’s always weird seeing a script you wrote like two hours ago, on air, running [and] informing people… It’s so cool to hear it happen in real time.” To Herbert, KTSW is an opportunity for students to learn just what they can do in the real world.
While these four departments are known for putting together everything you hear, KTSW covers a wide array of the media spectrum. The station is a large organization full of hard working people and it is only growing more and more each semester. Being a part of the station myself as a blog content contributor, news reporter and DJ, I can personally say that it has been such a great experience. As a part of KTSW, you are constantly learning every time you step into the office and every time you are out doing work for the station.
For those looking for a career in media or communication, I highly recommend being a part of the team here at KTSW. While it is too late to apply for spring 2017, I encourage everyone out there who is interested to be ready when applications open up for fall 2017. But until then, tune into KTSW 89.9 at any time of the day. Chances are you’ll hear something you like, and now you’ll have a better idea of just how much work goes into it all.
Featured image by Tafari Robertson.