The Side of College Radio That You Never See

By Cain Hernandez
Blog Content Contributor

Today, college radio stations from all over the world will be coming together to celebrate the 6th annual College Radio Day. Originally devised back in 2010 by Dr. Rob Quicke, College Radio Day was designed to raise a greater awareness of college, as well as high school, radio stations around the world. The College Radio Day website details that the aim of the organization is to couple the combined listenership of radio stations all over the world to celebrate the important contribution college radio plays in our society.

Photo by Tafari Robertson.
Photo by Tafari Robertson.

Considering the upcoming College Radio Day, I felt that listeners should know more of what goes on behind the scenes of a student run radio station. I wanted to bring to light sides of KTSW that don’t get talked about much, but are nonetheless vital roles in maintaining the overall functioning of the station.

I sat down with our stations General Manager Dan Schumacher, and our Sales Manager Hunter Stewart to get a better sense of the roles they play at KTSW. Unfortunately, our Station manager Brittany Robinson was out for the week, but our Program Director Laura Valencia was kind enough to step in and answer some questions as well.

Hunter Stewart is a senior here at Texas State, and has also been working as Sales Manager at KTSW since May of this year.

“A lot of my job consist of communication,” Stewart says. “Not only with other departments at KTSW, but also with businesses and people who want to advertise or promote with us on air.” Stewart explained to me the biggest project that he and his staff have been focused on, which is the 10th annual MR Fest happening in April of next year. “Our 10th annual MR Fest is funded strictly on sponsors, so my main project, until the end of the semester, would have to be finding businesses willing to contribute and help with that.”

However, being sales manager does come with some stresses as well. Stewart specified an issue that he and his staff were not completely prepared for, which would be contacting and finding people to sponsor KTSW events.

“In sales, you’re going to get told a lot of no’s,” Stewart explained. “A lot of times, it’s really hard getting in touch with the owners of some local establishments as well. So, that’s another difficult thing my staff and I wasn’t quite expecting.”

Most of the sponsors Stewart and his staff seek are firms that also target the college student demographic, although they do also have large chains that sponsor KTSW and Texas State events, such as Golden Chick and Dominoes.

Stewart will be graduating this December, so he is currently focused on meeting their funding for MR Fest before he leaves.

“I’d like to raise all our funding before I graduate,” Stewart said. “This way, the staff and our next sales manager can focus on the business plan we implemented, without having to worry about funding.”

Stewart would also like to leave his staff with the necessary sales and marketing skills needed to fulfill the roles of the sales department.

“Talking to businesses, and doing sales and marketing is incredibly difficult at first,” Stewart indicated. “I’d really love to transfer all I’ve learned this semester into the rest of the staff and executives before I graduate.”

Laura Valencia is the program director here at KTSW. Her primary role is policing all of the programming KTSW offers.

Laura Valencia oversees everything that plays on-air, including the DJs. Joshua Ramirez (pictured) reports to Valencia for his show, San Marvelous. Photo by Tafari Robertson.
Laura Valencia oversees everything that plays on-air, including the DJs. Joshua Ramirez (pictured) reports to Valencia for his show, San Marvelous. Photo by Tafari Robertson.

“Everything that goes on air, I am basically the monitor of,” Valencia explained. The program director essentially overseas all our broadcasts, whether it be sports or our specialty shows such as Other Side Drive, as well as training all the regular jocks on the air. Being program director is probably one of the most involved positions at KTSW, since they essentially oversee everything.

Of course, there are hardships that come with being program director. Valencia describes one of the more annoying aspects of her job.

“When our automation system goes down, I’m the one who has to run to the studio to make sure everything is in working order,” Valencia explains. The automation system is basically the logs that hold all our music and commercials. Since KTSW can’t be off the air for a long time, the automation system being down can result in a fine. Valencia feels that this is probably one of the more difficult aspects of her job.

Looking towards the future, Valencia details some of the things she wants for KTSW in the long run.

“We have a lot of goals, now that we’re in the new building,” Valencia said about KTSW moving from Old Main to Trinity. “For one, we’d like to have a second KTSW streaming station people can listen to.” KTSW plans to include a new variety of genres that usually don’t get covered in our normal rotation, such as rap and future beat.

Being a PR major, Valencia would like to continue her career in radio, doing either event planning or PR.

“I definitely want to keep working in this field, but I’d like to deal with the PR aspect like event planning.” One of her favorite things about working at KTSW would be the training aspect. “I really love training all of our on-air talent,” Valencia said. “I get to work with some amazing people, weather its multimedia, music or news, so that’s something I really enjoy.”

The general manager and faculty advisor Dan Schumacher has been overseeing the student run station KTSW for some time now. Schumacher’s job consists of overseeing every department of KTSW, helping students when issues arise.

“I take care of all the HR, budgets and finance, and the training of the station manager, as well as the ongoing training and advising of all our other executives,” Schumacher explained.

KTSW moved from Old Main to Trinity in August 2016. Photo by Tafari Robertson.
KTSW moved from Old Main to Trinity in August 2016. Photo by Tafari Robertson.

One of the biggest projects Schumacher has been working on for the last nine months is the movement of the station into the new building. Along with that, there are many other organizational things that Schumacher is required to oversee well.

“I wear a lot of different hats around here,” Schumacher said, “If someone needs a new computer, I help with that. If we need t-shirts, I help coordinate with that, and the companies we purchase those items from. If someone needs access the studios, I also help with that. There’s just a lot of continual work that need to be done.”

The continual turnover rate seems to be, generally, the hardest part of Schumacher’s job. Since KTSW is a student run station, people will eventually graduate or find internships, so finding consistency has proven difficult.

“It’s difficult to get consistency when you are constantly turning people over,” Schumacher said. “In the real world, you hire someone, they could work that job for 20 years or so, if they’re good at it. In our case, someone comes in to a very specialized position for a year or two, and then they leave, and we have to start all over.” Schumacher describes KTSW as a sort of training workshop. Eventually students will find jobs or internships with the help of the station, which contributes to the high turnover rate.

“There are many of things that we’re are going to be doing,” Schumacher explained, “I’m looking forward to the second channel of programming that we’ll be implementing into KTSW, also having a better space for recording bands, as well as getting the best equipment in our student’s hands. Those are really my goals for the time being.”

As far as the career path of the students at KTSW goes, Schumacher hopes that he and the station can provide students with the necessary skills to get them to where they want to be in life.

“What I’d like to see, is a path for students,” Schumacher said. “I’d like to see where KTSW fits into the student’s trajectory, how they will get from where they are now, to where they want to be, and hopefully there will be something at KTSW that will help them reach their goals.”

Tune into KTSW 89.9 from midnight to midnight on Nov. 4 to hear 24 hour live coverage of College Radio Day.

Featured image by Tafari Robertson.

Holly Henrichsen

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