Every day, dozens of students enter the KSFS radio station inside the Creative Arts building, put on their headsets and talk about a wide variety of topics, ranging from hip-hop to sports news, with music jamming in between.
Although some students have never tuned in to any of the more than 50 shows on SF State’s radio station, KSFS was recently nominated for the mtvU Woodie award for being one of the best college radio stations in the country. KSFS didn’t receive enough votes to place in the top 10, but this is the second consecutive year it has placed in the top 25.
“We’re disappointed,” said Jeff Jacoby, a radio professor and adviser to the radio station. “We think we’re the best college radio station in the country so we think we should be number one. Still, we’ll take any recognition we can get.”
According to Jake Urbanski, a spokesman for mtvU, the top college radio stations are chosen based off of the Princeton Review’s top college radio stations list, online nominations through Twitter and Rate My Professors, CMJ College Radio acknowledgements and independent questionnaires. After the nomination list is posted online, people can log on and vote. Humboldt State University’s radio station was the only other university in California to be nominated.
KSFS has programming for 15 hours a day Monday through Friday, and eight hours a day on weekends. There are currently about 100 student hosts on the station, which has been around for more than 50 years.
“There is a legacy at KSFS and I think everyone involved with it wants to live up to the station’s prestige,” said Casey Cagle, who co-hosts a Saturday morning music show called “The Finger.”
“There is a huge pool of professional-caliber talent at KSFS, and they are all putting every ounce of effort into producing and promoting quality shows.”
This legacy includes careers of people like rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres and “The Real World: Seattle” star Irene McGee. More recent KSFS radio hosts have received attention from radio stations like satellite giant SiriusXM and KROX, a popular independent music station based in Texas.
On average, KSFS has more than 2,400 listeners each week. Since the station is only streamed online, there is no FCC to regulate language or certain topics. Still, Jacoby tries to get his students in the habit of adhering to certain FCC guidelines.
“We don’t like to dictate to students and tell them what radio shows to do,” he said. “We want our students to have the creative experience, the production experience and the professional experience of conceiving, writing, producing and performing their own radio show.”
Although some radio shows have only a handful of listeners, students who maintain their shows for a longer period of time tend to build larger audiences. Shows like “The List” and “Hard Edition” have attracted up to hundreds of listeners.
Broadcast and electronic communication arts major Mehgan Bowers hosts the Friday night sex talk show “Erotic City Radio,” one of the most popular shows on KSFS. When she first brought Erotic City to KSFS two years ago, there were less than 10 listeners for each episode. Today, however, her episodes have reached up to 30,000 downloads after the podcast is posted online, another sign of the station’s growing reach.
“The listenership got ridiculous once I put it up on the internet,” said Bowers. “I post (the podcast) on PodOmatic and on iTunes, and the numbers just keep growing.”
Although KSFS has become more popular since Jacoby became the radio station adviser in 2007, he said that there is much more work that needs to be done in order to gain a satisfying level of listeners.
“KSFS is a class and not really a University radio station, even though we like to think of ourselves as that,” said Jacoby. “We’re not that well known. We have a long way to go to get our name out there in a big way, but I think we deserve it.”