KCOU offers more than you think
Oct. 10, 2008
With the "Save KCOU" campaign under way, the most prevalent and important question asked has been "Why?" Why should MSA fund KCOU/88.1 FM? Why has KCOU been so dramatic about the situation? Why should anyone care?
After all, KCOU is just a college radio station run by amateur students and has no real sense of direction in the first place. They have no real structure or leadership and neither the DJs nor the listeners really care about the station, right?
Working as a DJ/producer last year, I thought the same thing. When organizing a sports show, potential hosts were asked, "So, who wants a show?" That's it. There was little to no training involved and not much was expected.
There's a big difference between then and now. The newest KCOU executive staff, with John Dobson at the helm, gives the station direction. DJs need to fill out informational forms, outline show ideas and complete a training course before being considered for an on-air spot. Those at KCOU showed they care about the station, launching the "Save KCOU" campaign at the slightest whisper of a shutdown.
But does this newfound commitment alone make KCOU a "good investment"? Absolutely not.
What makes KCOU a "good investment" is that it's a good example of the "Missouri Method," which stresses learning by experience. And I believe this method applies not just to journalism students, but to the student body as a whole. Books and lectures can only teach you so much, there's no substitute for going out and learning how to do something through experience. There isn't any program on campus that allows for a trial by fire experience in radio, especially for underclassmen, quite like KCOU.
Those who work at KCOU are allowed to discuss whatever topics and play whatever music they'd like (within reason) and learn, through experience, what works and what doesn't, both for them individually and the radio as a whole.
Listeners can be active participants in the production process. You can call in to any show and have the opportunity to share your opinion on any given topic. Listening to KCOU exposes you, the listener, to new music, new ideas and new opinions, some of which you might not agree with. But this opens up communication lines, because if there's one thing we college students have a plethora of, it's opinions.
Along with providing various opinions and ideas, KCOU serves as entertainment. We strive to engage the listeners and to get them to have as much fun listening to us work as we do working.
Those who don't listen to KCOU are affected, too. Both KCOU and MSA have presented their positions on the situation through the news media all week. You now have the opportunity to watch and question whether each group is doing what it says it will do: KCOU proving it's a good investment to the school and MSA representing the student body properly.
The only thing to do now is communicate openly. KCOU resorted to its dramatic campaign because it didn't feel the Missouri Students Association was being supportive of KCOU's needs. Now that the problem is in the open, there is no need to vilify MSA or President Jim Kelley. They are not trying to kill the station. The onus is on us, KCOU, to prove that we're a worthwhile investment to MSA, our listeners, our supporters and the indifferent. Based on the above, I think we're proving it well.
Pullega is a former member of The Maneater's staff.