KOKOMO, Ind. — Megan Riley may not choose a career in radio.
But her experience as a disc jockey for Indiana University Kokomo’s Radio Free Kokomo gives her skills she can use in many professions.
“This is hands-on experience, giving me a taste of what I could be doing in my career,” she said. “I’m learning to work with other people, which is a skill that translates to whatever career I choose.”
Riley, a junior new media major from New Palestine, is just one of the student DJs on the internet-based Radio Free Kokomo, a student organization that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at radiofreekokomo.org.
Radio Free Kokomo began broadcasting five years ago in a closet in the Main Building basement. Today, it has a small studio near Havens Auditorium, staffed by between 10 and 15 DJs.
Station Manager Rob Salem said a great deal of the content currently is prerecorded, but he hopes to have live shows on around the clock. That creates chances for more people on campus to get involved.
“We’d love to have a morning show, and to get more faculty, staff, and students involved,” he said. “We don’t tell students what to play on their shows. We ask them what they’d like to play, and if they don’t know, we help them figure it out.”
Faculty sponsor Scott Manthe said at least three student DJs have gone on to work at local radio stations, as a result of serving at Radio Free Kokomo. Another used it as a springboard to graduate school.
He’s always looking for new talent, and said no previous experience is necessary.
“All you have to do is want to be a student DJ,” he said.
As station manager Salem, a new media major from Amboy, plans the budget, manages personnel and programming, and serves as a representative.
“I’m gaining real skills that will be valuable in any job,” he said. “As a new media major, radio is a job option, and I will graduate with hands-on experience.”
Salem features local rock and metal on his show, and Riley plays a mix show, with some mainstream music and some newer groups. Other shows include 80s, artists who play at summer music festivals, and global music.
“College radio’s goal is to play what you don’t hear anywhere else,” he said. “College radio is known as a launching pad. There are artists who never would have gotten their start without college radio stations playing their songs.”
Their goal is to integrate the station more into campus life — Riley said many students don’t know it exists. She provided music for the Student Activities Fair this year, and they played at Midnight Madness during the spring semester, to make people aware the campus has a radio station.
Salem would like to expand to broadcast IU Kokomo athletic events, and get student organizations, faculty, and staff to record station IDs and announcements.
“We want everyone on campus to know they can utilize this resource,” he said. “We want to be a valuable asset to IU Kokomo.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.