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College radio 101
By JEANNE DINEHART
The broadcast students of Green River Community College have two radio stations to choose from to begin their career: KGRG 89.9 FM and PULSE 1330.com.
GRCC also offers two degrees with a radio focus. Students can choose from the broadcast pre-professional degree or the one-year certificate program. Either one can put a would-be DJ on the air and on their way to working professionally, sometimes at the best stations in the country.
Tune into 89.9 FM today and you might hear Monica Kim, 17, on the air as a DJ. The Running Start student said she always knew she wanted to do something in radio or radio productions and promotions.
"I love the program because it's a lab class and I was on the air within a week," said Kim.
KGRG mostly plays current rock, local bands, emo, ska, indie and hard-core music, with some talk shows containing comedy bits stirred in the mix. The station has helped various present-day artists such as MxPx and Nirvana break into the business.
The lab class is "pretty simple, it's a really good program and it's run like a real radio station," said Kim. "The lab class teaches students how to operate the control room. Learning to be a DJ is a lot of hands-on learning and knowledge gained by talking with the other DJs."
KGRG, whose signal reaches from Auburn to Tacoma and into south Seattle, has an audience of about 15,000 listeners per week, according to station managers. Both stations have a mostly male audience, ages 14 to 24, and the DJs are about 75 percent male and 25 percent female.
"I've listened to other college stations, and this is one of the best," said Kim.
A former KGRG DJ and Auburn resident, Dave Styles, is working at the top-rated station in Los Angeles, KISS 102.7FM. Another ex-KGRG DJ who is now a radio personality called DJ No Name (Bob Van Dyne) has been on the air at 107.7 The End in Seattle since 2000 and in 2002 was inducted into the Professional Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. Two other KGRG alums, Justin Chamberlain and Matt McCart, are also DJs at The End.
PULSE 1330.com is GRCC's other and newer radio station. Mostly meant for listening to on the Internet because of its low (500 watts) signal, the station formerly known as KENU had a country format until about four years ago, when it changed to techno/electronica music, which at times sounds a little like long running disco music. There's no missing the pumping beat, which student and DJ Andrew Gardner prefers to call club music rather than rave.
"Rave has been associated with heavy drug use. We'd rather associate our music with clubs involving large amounts of legal alcohol and scantily clad, legal women," said the 22-year-old Gardner.
The music played on PULSE has many sub-genres such as Progressive Trance, Tribal, Jungle and Progressive Techno. The compositions are a mix that the DJ help create. These techno artists, who are more like masters of ceremony, think on their feet and don't just play a CD or a track from a new album. Instead, they continuously tweak the levels, tempo and sequencers and add bits and pieces to create new and different music on the spot.
This style of music, much like the rock that came out of the 1960s, tends to make parents nervous for all the same reasons as back then: It's new, different, not always easily understood and has been associated with sex and drugs.
"We're kind of the little sibling of KGRG, and we've been the problem child since the beginning because we continuously struggle to stay afloat. We're still working the kinks out in our programming, but we are finally moving forward," said Gardner, who started mixing records on the air in January. "There's a lot of kids that come out of this program and score a job somewhere in the country as a DJ."
Besides playing different types of music, the two college stations have other differences, such as PULSE doesn't run talk segments. Taking the place of talk is a mostly continuous stream of morphing music which runs 24 hours a day. And some of the late-night music is automated, whereas KGRG has a live DJ at all times.
KGRG broadcasts from the Green River campus, PULSE out of Enumclaw. PULSE is hoping to get enough funding to set up new towers which would enable it to reach into Seattle.
News intern Jeanne Dinehart: 925-5565 and firstname.lastname@example.org