A look beyond the airwaves

The bold student speakers of Sonoma State University have had an outlet to convey their passions and ideas—whether it be about sports, music or the community at large—via radio for decades. Yet even in the age of online streaming and digital music downloads, Sonoma State’s student-run radio station is still broadcasting loud and clear.

KSUN is a radio station managed and recorded on-campus in Ives 31 by COMS 385 students. It has been part of Sonoma State since the 1970s, according to KSUN teacher, adviser and communications professor, Nate Campbell. 

Student DJs are still mostly running two-hour radio shows, butaround 2002 these shows are broadcasted through the internet rather than a traditional cable radio station, Campbell said. 

In addition to a new, more reliable sound board for KSUN students, Campbell said one returning feature in fall 2016 is the ability for fans to listen to content any time from the Sonoma State smartphone app.

“We had been off for a couple of semesters as we switched to streaming services, but we are back up there, which is good,” Campbell said, “When you go to the SSUMobile app, we’re right there front and center on it.”

The ability to play KSUN’s content from a phone provides more convenience for listeners, according to Program Director Rachel Argent.

“If it’s not working on the app, you have to be by a computer to listen… it ties you down,” Argent said; “Now I can be at work and just listen in, or… see how people’s shows are doing.”

Argent began her role as program director this semester, but she’s done KSUN radio shows since fall 2015. In addition to managing a show schedule and ensuring all the student DJs arrive on time, she co-hosts her own show Mondays from noon until 2 p.m., with Promotions Director Chloe Ellis. Argent said their show, “Keeping it Classy with Rachel and Chloe,” balances talk and music content by switching between 20-minute intervals of general discussion and EDM or reggae music.

KSUN General Manager Simone Moscovitch said that running one’s own radio station is “a great way to explore your taste in music.” Moscovitch, who became KSUN’s fall 2016 general manager after running a spring 2016 show about music news and various ‘60s – 2000s songs, oversees all the station’s department heads and works to bring in revenue. 

Aside from Argent’s show, this semester’s KSUN programming consists heavily of sports, music, and talk shows about the “celebrity world,” she said. Regardless of a show’s set-up or content, Argent said it’s not her job to tell students how to run their shows.

“One of the biggest things we advocate in KSUN is: it’s your time slot so do what you want with it,” Argent said.

This on-air freedom is due in part to KSUN’s lack of Federal Communications Commission restrictions. Being an internet-based radio station provides KSUN with much more flexibility, according to Argent.

“You can play any type of music, you can say whatever you want and curse…there literally [are] no rules,” Argent said, “No time clock, nothing to get in trouble with.” 

Though KSUN students can say and play whatever they want on air, they still must take the time to find sponsors, according to Moscovitch. She said students are assigned to find Sonoma County organizations who will pay anywhere from $100 to $500 to be promoted on- or off-air.

“It’s my job to make sure that we get them what they paid for,” Moscovitch said.

Moscovitch said KSUN is considering the possibility of developing a listening app separate from SSUMobile, and the station will be tabling at Sonoma State sports events this year. 

On a more personal note, she said her involvement with the station led to increased engagement with the Sonoma State community. It even opened the door to a promotions job at Wine Country Radio, which she’s had since May.

“I think I found KSUN exactly when I needed to find it,” Moscovitch said. “I didn’t really have a place on campus, I just kind of went from class to class, and finally I found something that piqued my interest. It gave me a home away from home, it gave me a responsibility and purpose.”