College radio had a huge influence on developing my musical tastes in the 1980s and early 90s. Growing up in small town Wisconsin, I listened to WRST from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. They even let some of my high school friends DJ, usually at 4a.m. on Thursdays. My only other source of alternative music came from friends who had older siblings in college, and they passed on what they heard at their local college stations to we high school underlings.
Another recent article in the New York Times talks about how college radio is maintaining its presence, and in some cases thriving, despite the availability of a wide range of music on the internet. Most of these stations are student-run, and allow students to DJ whatever they feel like during certain programming hours. And, according to the article, some actually do influence the success of indie bands, many by integrating their broadcast with a streaming webcast. While commercial radio is run by huge conglomerates and so-called professional "DJs" have no influence on the playlist, its great to see that young people still want to get involved with local radio.
In the future I am going to say a lot more about college radio, but in the meantime here are a few tracks that I discovered by college radio in the 1980s.
Hüsker Dü - Never Talking To You Again.mp3
Buy: Zen Arcade (1984)
The Smiths - Cemetry Gates.mp3
Buy: The Queen Is Dead (1986)
They Might Be Giants -Ana Ng.mp3
Buy: Lincoln (1989)
And here's a song by the Replacements from their most produced record, but a great song regardless. I will have much, much more to say about the Replacements at a later date. Man, I remember seeing this on MTV's 120 Minutes. And now its VH1 Classic? I'm old.
Buy: Don't Tell a Soul (1989, reissued with bonus tracks 2008)