DJ’s at Augustana College’s student-run radio station won’t be spinning over the airwaves much longer.
The college announced this week it will move its station, KAUR 89.1 FM, to an online-only format. KAUR, which now reaches listeners up to 60 miles away from its station in Sioux Falls, S.D., was founded in 1972.
Bob Preloger, the college’s vice president for marketing and communications, said the decision was not a financial one, and that the college has considered the move for at least three years.
“It’s become obvious to us that our students are not listening to the radio station,” he said, referring to the results of a recent campus survey. “Listenership on the radio ranked among the lowest forms of communication on campus.”
Tom Prochazka, the station’s general manager, who graduated from the college this month, said the transition is a “sad day for radio and Augustana College,” but that it also offers KAUR an opportunity to explore new directions, such as downloadable podcasts.
“Being a broadcast station, we could reach out 60 miles in any direction. We have 300,000 listeners over the air that can get the station if they just happen to scan their dial,” Mr. Prochazka said. “On the Internet, we’re going to lose a lot of those people, who listen in the car or at work, but now we can reach out as far as we want to.”
College radio stations across the country have added online-only stations since the late 90s, but usually only to supplement their FM or AM broadcasts, said Fritz Kass, chief operations officer for the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. The system, a coalition of education and nonprofit stations, has 1,000 members.
Mr. Kass said at least three of its other member stations have sold their frequencies to move online in the past few years. Those stations include St. Olaf College’s KSTO and Adelphi University’s PAWS Web Radio.
“When a college loses the opportunity to interface with their community, that’s unfortunate, because the college has a real opportunity to affect lives and people,” Mr. Kass said. “On the other hand, Webcasting opens up a whole other area of digital communication, and certainly the iPod generation needs to have those kinds of skills.”
Augustana College is not interested in selling its frequency, Mr. Preloger said. The college is looking to lease the station, however, and has met with interested parties.
“We said, ‘Here we have this asset of the college that really isn’t being utilized as best it should be,’” he said. “We weren’t being good stewards of that asset.”
The station will complete the transition sometime this month. —Erica R. Hendry