In a radio soundscape that’s ever more homogenized, corporatized, and sanitized, student-run KRUI remains a voice for the local, the independent, and the new.
With more than 100 volunteers on the air and behind the scenes, plus nine paid directors who serve one-year terms, KRUI is The University of Iowa’s second-largest student organization. Broadcasting on 89.7 FM and over the Internet, it delivers information, opinions, and especially music to the campus community and listeners everywhere.
“If it’s good, it gets played,” says Nathan Gould, KRUI music director, adding that he and his staff stick to one basic rule—no top-40 tunes. They review hundreds of CDs each month, choosing an eclectic mix unlike anything else on the dial.
Beyond its regular music rotation, KRUI’s specialty programs span genres from hip-hop to heavy metal, jazz to Indian pop. The station offers news and non-music programming, too, including sports talk and “Grumpy Old Grad Students,” a talk show whose name speaks for itself.
Student broadcasting at Iowa goes back to 1952, when a low-power radio station started serving UI residence halls. Dubbed KRUI in 1976, the station folded briefly before being revived as a student organization supported largely by student fees, and in the 1980s it began broadcasting via FM.
Today generated from a brand-new facility in the Iowa Memorial Union, KRUI’s 100-watt signal remains decidedly local, reaching audiences within a few dozen miles. But the station’s Internet stream takes KRUI global, and its web site offers a running playlist, online requests, and DJ blogs.
KRUI draws volunteers who seek practical experience—some have gone on to work in broadcasting or the music industry. Others just like discovering and sharing good music and want to help keep KRUI a strong part of the area music scene.
“We’re a handful of students running a radio station,” says Gould. “Keeping everyone moving in the same direction can be a challenge, but it’s a great experience.”
Iowa Memorial Union
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