Two men and two women sit in a mauve cubicle, their temporary office in the basement of the Iowa Memorial Union. Their hair color varies as much as their majorspsychology, studio art, sociology, and communicationsbut their common cause is KRUI, the Universitys radio station and the largest student-run organization on campus.
On this particular day, these four of the 10 dedicated KRUI directors are discussing their move from 129 Grand Avenue Court into these temporary quarters. Until the spring 2003 semester, the station will find itself in multiple locationsthe air studio is enclosed in a windowed room in the corner of The Wheelroom, a student dining room in the IMU, while a third room houses other equipment.
Its going to be a bit chaotic this semester, says Jennie Guyan, the general manager who will start her fifth year at Iowa this fall.
KRUI has more than 150 volunteers who are divided into nine departments, each headed by one of the student directors and a general manager. Students participate in every aspect of the station, including dee-jaying, production, underwriting, programming, and reading news and sports reports.
While this falls move will result in chaos for the station, its got an up side, too. After next semester, all facets of the station will be permanently located on the third floor of the IMU, complete with a waiting room, state-of-the-art production and air studio, and office.
Our ultimate goal was permanence and were going to get that, Guyan says. I think having to wait a semester isnt really that bad.
The directors even look optimistically at their placement throughout the IMU.
I think its actually good we ended up in this temporary spot, says Valerie Wild, programming director and a fourth-year student. With the arcade as our air studio, what better way to be in the faces of students?
KRUI wasnt always such a prestigious organization. It began in 1952 as KWAD under the auspices of the residence halls, serving only the Quadrangle dormitory. As the station began serving other dorms in 1968, its name changed to KICR. The radio station was considered an alternative one, broadcasting rock n roll and popular music and drawing more than 5,000 listeners and $10,000 in revenues. A decade later, interest waned and the station was shut down due to lack of funds. Then in 1980, after changing its name to KRUI, student government began subsidizing the stations finances and the station was running again. It wasnt until 1984 that it began broadcasting on an FM frequency. The station remained housed in the Quad dorm until 1995, when it was moved to a two-story house near the westside dorms.
In May 2001, administrators informed the directors theyd be moving again. With a year until the slated destruction of the dilapidated house, directors were confident in finding an acceptable permanent solution.
Wed made the argument that if we were going to face such a drastic move, then it should work to our benefit, Guyan says, and we should become a better educational laboratory for the University.
While the decision of where to move was not without controversy, UI administrators and the directors of KRUI eventually agreed that the IMU would be the new locale.
I think the end result is a good fit, says Kelly Soukup, assistant director for the Office of Student Life and staff adviser for KRUI. The students are very knowledgeable about the station and the technology involved, handled themselves very professionally, and were intimately involved with administrators throughout the process.
When Soukup says intimately, hes not kidding. Guyan spent more than 40 hours a week for many weeks trying to get the station what it needed while also balancing a second job and a three-week intensive summer course. But, she and the other directors claim its all worth it.
Working at KRUI has been a monumental experience for me and the other directors, Guyan says. The whole process has given me so much I couldnt get anywhere else. To be 22 years old and working a full-time job, making decisions usually reserved for people with degrees, has made me do a lot of homework, she says. Im confident I can go into any job interview and look good to an employer.
The other two directors in the cubicle, who are silent for most of the conversation, perk up when talking about the impact KRUI has had on their lives.
We all get along like a family, says John Bollwitt, operations director and a sixth-year student. Ive gotten to meet so many cool people. Not only those who work at the station, but those who visit, like They Might Be Giants and Garrison Keillor.
Bollwitt also notes his travels as beneficial. KRUI annually funds travel for two directors to attend conventions to stay updated on current technologies. Bollwit most recently traveled to New York City and Austin.
KRUI also submits entries to the Addy Awards, a regional advertising competition based in Cedar Rapids. Typically awards go to public relations professionals and large corporations, but in recent years KRUI has won many.
Were just a small 100-watt radio station and weve beat out these huge corporations, Bollwitt says. Its cool when youre recognized for your talent by professionals in the industry.
The awards arent without justification.
The more energy you put into something, the more you will get more out of it, says Bradley Adita, marketing director and post-undergrad student. The number of hours these directors spend at the station combined with their enthusiasm for radio definitely creates a successful station. One-half of the professional DJs in eastern Iowa are alumni of KRUI, and not only can the entire Iowa City/Coralville area tune in to KRUI, but the directors recently completed a project that broadcasts the station over the Internet 24 hours a day. (Visit KRUIs web site at www.uiowa.edu/~krui.) Bollwitt claims 15 people log in at any one time from all over the world.
We have a regular in California and some in Singapore, he says.
Other directors praise the new technology for keeping them in touch with their parents.
College life is really busy and if your child doesnt get a chance to call home, listening to the show is one way for them to let you know theyre all right, Adita says, commenting on the benefits of streaming radio on the Internet. A chorus of yeahs from the other directors fills the cubicle.
For students seeking a niche, KRUI might be just the place.
You dont need any experience or even the desire to go into radio as a career, Guyan says. You just have to have an interest. The experience you get at the station youll be able to use anywhere.
by Raychel Kolen