KUPS 90.1 Knows What’s Good With College Radio

By: Lauren Royer

College radio has always been more of my jam. For starters, you do not have all those annoying ass ads and the music is as fresh as it gets. If children are the future… that means what they blast is too. From a marketing standpoint, teenagers and college students are an ideal audience to have on your side. From an artistic talent standpoint, college students are all out there to prove something and their ideas cannot be stale.

The love for music, artists, and fans has not gone anywhere at KUPS 90.1 in Tacoma. As the University of Puget Sound’s official radio, the station offers vibes from Hip-Hop, Loud Rock, Electronic, Alternative and specialty. This is fantastic for young students because they are getting exposed to music that will ultimately expand their minds and help them think beyond mainstream musical realms. As an artist, hard-core music fan, or a reader of music blogs… I still feel I have to explain to you why mainstream Top 40 music stations are an extension of the devil. It’s the fake atmosphere, sometimes forced relationships, and how they will run a mediocre song to the point I wanna hit myself with a shovel after digging a nice L-Boogie shaped hole.

College radio doesn’t do that to me, it inspires so many students and music lovers to reach for the stars. If you are able to get your music played on college radio, you are on the right track as an artist.Even if your music isn’t being played on a station, it’s crucial to tune into college radio to check in and see what is actually good. Students often will keep it real and give you an idea of where the industry is headed as well as how fans are feeling about what’s current. Keeping the KUPS 90.1 HipHop department funky fresh is Director Graeme! He told me a little more about how it goes down at ‘The Sound’ and why college radio is so important.

What do you love about hip hop?
I think one of the things I’ve always loved about Hip-Hop is the personality. I feel like in Hip-Hop much more so than other genres the personality of the artist plays an enormous role in the music and really shapes it and I think that’s a big part of what I enjoy about it and what makes it so unique to me. I also love how much diversity there is throughout the genre in terms of sound, style, and content and I have yet to find a part I really don’t like. There’s a million other reasons I could think of as to why I love Hip-Hop but I think that’s a good start.

On KUPS what subgenres of hip hop are played the most? What are the students requesting these days?
One of the things that makes KUPS unique is the level of creative freedom we give our DJs. Our station is set up so that DJs have complete control of the music they play in their hour on the air so we don’t really receive a lot of requests. In terms of what our DJs are choosing to play there is an incredibly wide variety of sub-genres being represented in our programing. Some of the things our DJs are playing on air this semester we have local Hip-Hop, G-Funk, Femme/Queer/Trans Hip-Hop, Hyper aggressive/Metal influenced stuff, Boom Bap, alt/underground, Jazz Influenced, and then a lot of location based stuff like Bay Area, Southern, and Midwest hip-hop.

Tell me about the station and the various programs that are running. We heard some dope shows are about to pop up!
Yeah our station hosts an incredibly wide variety of shows. Our programing is broken into 5 departments which are Hip-Hop, Loud Rock, Electronic, Alternative and specialty. All these are incredibly big genres so to get specific I’ll give you a little range of what each one covers. Loud Rock is a very expansive department and plays everything from grindcore to metal to punk. Electronic covers things like house, jungle, and techno. Alternative is the bulk of our programming and consists of things like shoegaze, indie, dream pop etc. Specialty is essentially everything that doesn’t fit into those categories including talk shows, jazz, soul, and so on. We place a big emphasis on playing local music which has led to many of the great relationships we have with local artists.

How do you and your team curate the music that is played on the station?
One of my main duties as the Hip-Hop Music Director is to conduct interviews with all the students and community members who are interested in having a Hip-Hop show. After I’ve interviewed everyone I pick 16 shows for that semester’s programming. I try and pick the widest variety of shows I can, my goal in selecting programing is to show the breadth of a genre so many people often try and box into a small little corner. Here at KUPS we also try and focus on underrepresented groups as well as promote many of the great local artists from the Seattle and Tacoma areas.

Radio isn’t the most popular form of music entertainment anymore, but college radio is often a little different (and better!) Why is that?
College radio has always focused on playing music that isn’t played on mainstream radio or other media sources and I think that’s what really sets it apart. College radio tends to be run by and more in tune with the hardcore fans of certain genres and just generally more in tune with the music world as a whole. We also have no need to appeal to a wider audience as a non-profit entity, this affords us the privilege of not having to worry about making money which really allows greater freedom in terms of what we play and who our target audience is. When it comes down to it college radio is really by fans for fans and I think that’s what makes the difference.

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