By Rob Quicke, co-founder of World College Radio Day
This year, students from Italian college radio stations came together for four days in Verona, Italy. The venue was the University of Verona, and the conference was called FRU 17: Festival Delle Radio Universitarie. This national, annual conference is organized by RadUni – the Italian national college radio association that had over 20 of its station members come to the conference. This year was not only the 11th time the conference has taken place, but the first time that Verona has hosted the conference.
As founder of College Radio Day and also co-founder of World College Radio Day, as well as General Manager of WP 88.7 FM at William Paterson University, I was invited to talk about the state of college radio from an international perspective.
The beautiful city of Verona lies in the north-east of Italy and is a city on the Adige river in the Veneto region. The city is famous for its ancient Roman monuments and ruins, as well as its spectacular 20,000 seater Roman arena that is open daily and especially comes to life in the summer months as live opera performances are hosted every evening. Verona is also home to the famous Juliet’s balcony, from where, as Shakespeare’s story told it, the famous and tragic-bound hero would lament Romeo’s absence. So, Verona is a city of incredible romance and deep history!
So, it was in this distinguished city that over 150 students from across Italy came to the university and experienced a conference devoted to Italian college radio, with an impressive variety of sessions and workshop topics that covered many areas.
The college radio station that is at the University of Verona is called Fuori Aula Network, and has its studios in the main campus building on the second floor. FAN is an online station that streams content produced by the students throughout the week. The station is more than a decade old and was featured in the opening session of the conference when Tiziana Cavallo and Prof. Claudio Baccarani discussed the history of the station and how it came into existence in 2005. It was clearly an emotional topic for both panelists as they detailed how their dream of creating a radio station came into fruition, with several challenges along the way. Just getting space for the radio station was a significant victory for the students, who have been creating a culture of professional broadcasting since.
My session was called “International College Radio: Projects & Perspective” that also featured Ari Hautaniemi from Limu Radio in Lahti, Finland. Ari is the current President of World College Radio Day. We were also joined by Tiziana Cavallo, a co-founder of World College Radio Day. The other panelist to join us was Nicola Pifferi, Head of Raduni International Projects and also the Europhonica Editorial Board.
The discussion covered many topics and questions from the audience. Many students wanted to know how they can find an audience, and how they can communicate the importance of their radio station to both campus and local community. Such questions suggest that many college radio stations around the world struggle with the same challenges of continually justifying their existence to potentially disinterested university administrations.
In my presentation I encouraged the students to be fearless in their programming and to be the voices of their generation, as no one else can speak for them. I mentioned that at my own station, WP 88.7 FM, Brave New Radio at William Paterson University in New Jersey, we have an entire day’s event called Braveathon where we just have local artists only play for 15 hours on the air.
In the closing comments of the session, Ari Hautaniemi perhaps encapsulated the mission of college radio best by saying that you need “dedication, persistence and pride” in order to find an audience and then grow it. “It does not matter if you have a small audience, you should be proud of who you are and what you do” said Ari. All of the panelists stressed the importance of collaboration with other college radio stations, especially on an international level. The story of College Radio Day, and World College Radio Day was also shared. I also told the story of how Brave New Radio at William Paterson University has been successful in the last ten years, which has resulted in student recruitment and retention. The session connected well with the student audience.
Some other sessions that took place during the four say conference included:
- “Radio Invasions: The state of university radio and sharing best practices”
- Roundtable: “Beyond Network: How has sport changed?”
- Conference: ” Radio and the web: What is the future?”
The final session on the Sunday morning took place at the grand Sala Convegni, Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Piazza Bra. This majestic building, in the heart of Verona, was formerly constructed by the Austrian government who, at one point, ruled Verona for over a century.
This final session was a meeting to summarize and review the sessions and workshops of the previous three days. It was a time of reflection as well as an opportunity to identify and thank also those whose work made the conference possible. It was an enjoyable moment of tying everything together as RadUni used the session to get together all the students from the college radio stations across the country to unite once more and to close the conference with a great spirit of unity!
World College Radio Day is a celebration of college radio around the world, and the Italian university radio stations are a vibrant and passionate part of the WCRD network. I left the conference feeling invigorated by the positive spirit and exuberant energy that the Italian students have for college radio! I returned to the USA confident in the knowledge that we are not alone. College radio around the world is united!
Thanks to everyone who came to the event, and we hope all stations will participate in World College Radio Day on Friday, October 6!