A term constantly popping up when talking about the American music market is “college radio”. But what is college radio, and what’s the difference between college stations and other – major – stations? Jess Caragliano is the founder of Terrorbird and has been working with radio promotion in the US since 2008. She explains that college radio has little to do with college campus broadcasts these days. The term is widely used to describe smaller and local radio stations in general. Some of these are actually tied to college schools, but other work on a more independent basis.
“The big, commercial radio stations and college radios are totally different from each other” says Jess. According to her, the college stations should be the target for indie labels and smaller artists trying to get their music out. The reason is that it’s simply too hard and expensive to get through to the national commercial stations without the power of a major label. On the other hand, she points out that there’s an estimated 300-500 different college radio stations across the US, and trying to reach out to all of them doesn’t make sense. “The radio promotion is just a tool to create other money making opportunities.” As an example, she mentions reaching out to the radio stations covering the areas where the artist plans to tour, and thus growing the awareness.
And do America listen to radio? “Yes” is Jess’ answer, “but not in the big cities”. That’s because most radio listening takes place in the car, a habit that naturally isn’t as popular in really urban areas, due to public transportation.