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Airwaves: December 16, 2005

Gift Guide

I realize that we're still a week away from the Christmas shopping season, but for those who like to begin early, I have some suggestions for those with radio fans on their lists.

My perennial favorite suggestion is for one of the best portable radios available, the GE Superadio III. It's been around for years and hasn't changed at all: great FM reception, great AM reception and fidelity (you never thought AM could sound so good), and a reasonable cost -- about $50 at many stores that carry portable radios.

For the true junkie, a subscription to Don Barrett's would hit the spot. Barrett manages to get inside local stations and personalities in ways no one else could, and he does it from the perspective of a radio fan, which he very much is. About $40 includes the daily reports, eight years of archives, behind the scenes bulletins and breaking news, plus much, much more. Sign up on the "become a member" link from the main page.

Through podcasting and other internet-based audio services, the world of radio is so much more open and available then it ever was. So an iPod ($99 - $399 depending on model) is a great gift for the radio fan. I use mine to hear old airchecks, often playing them in my car as if I were listeneing to the regular radio. Passengers then wonder when stations like 10-Q came back.

A subscription to XM or Sirius may seem counter to the idea of radio fans, but it really isn't. Sirius and XM tend to do what made radio of the past so good: play a variety of music and make it fun. Is it perfect? Hardly. But I like it, and Howard Stern fans will soon have only one choice anyway, as he'll be exclusive to Sirius in days. Radios and kits run about $50 - $250; subscriptions are about $10 - $13 per month depending on how long you subscribe.

Student Radio Redux?

Judy Jankowski stepped down from the GM position at KKJZ last Friday after eleven years. Sean Heitkemper is takng the position in the interim.'s Michael Stark took the opportunity to lobby for something I totally believe in: bringing back student-run radio to Long Beach State, which hosts and holds the license to KKJZ. He writes:

"Dear Presidents Maxon and Alexander,

"There was a time at CSULB when the students had a curriculum, a ‘radio laboratory and a department [radio-tv-film] that provided an educational package that placed many students in prominent positions in radio through the country, including top on and off the air careers here in Southern California. Not only would it be a showcase for 'college radio,' but would bring back scores of Alumni [and their resources], disenfranchised from the University since the radio curriculum was abandoned in the early 80s. With all the new radio technologies [including podcasting, Satellite and Internet streaming] the need for radio content will grow as these new forms of broadcasting grow. 

"As someone who benefited with a wonderful career courtesy of the college radio experience I got at CSULB, and for years I have been pitching this concept to anyone that will listen. It appears that there has never been a better time to make a change than right now."

I doubt that would happen, but I personally believe that a University radio station should be required to be primarily run by students or lose their license. THere is no point for a University using resources and space for a station that does nothing but broadcast with professionals, students not allowed as is the case with KKJZ.

In the least, the station should use the extra addio channels from HD Digital Radio to give students the voice they haven't had since 1981.

Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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