August 22, 2006

Angels in the Airwaves

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For years, forlorn Cornell students in search of college radio had only sometimes-rival Ithaca College’s student broadcasts. Incoming freshmen with dreams of spinning tables at sweaty discos had few opportunities to practice their craft. Aspiring Howard Sterns were kept silent.
Now, the renowned IC radio will have some competition from that other university in town.
SlopeRadio, Cornell’s first student-operated radio station, was founded in May and is due to launch its inaugural live broadcasts on September 4th. The station will broadcast via its current website,, with the hope of obtaining an FM broadcasting license within the next year. The station’s current operating headquarters are located in Appel Commons on North Campus.
SlopeRadio occurred in a trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas between four guys adamant about only hearing the music they wanted to hear all of the time. President Yaw Etse, a junior with experience in artist management and internet broadcasts, created SlopeRadio’s primitive predecessor — a live broadcast on the internet from his home computer — before initiating the development of the on-campus station. The others — senior outcasts Jeffrey Bookman, Alex Zahn and, well, this purveyor of journalistic hedonism — are simply interested in taking their Itunes OCD to the next level.
“We felt that Cornell did not provide its students with adequate radio representation,” said Zahn, SlopeRadio’s President of Radio. “We want to provide Cornell students with something that almost every other major university has — a student-run station.”
SlopeRadio’s programming content will run the gamut from music and variety shows to news, sports and entertainment talk programs. The station will broadcast live continuously with a programming schedule derived from its featured student-hosted shows. Yet, while a diverse programming selection will certainly be available, the chief focus of SlopeRadio will be its eclectic music content.
“Hipster, scenester, I don’t care what you call it — the music will be pretty cutting edge,” Zahn said. “We want to influence listeners by exposing them to music that they have not heard.”
SlopeRadio is also planning a vigorous marketing campaign to increase its visibility on-campus and build its core listenership. The station is sending guest DJs to various Ithaca venues in addition to co-sponsoring campus events. However, the most critical aspect of SlopeRadio’s ongoing development is ensuring that students know they can tune in.
“Broadcasting over the internet is the way to go for college students,” Zahn said. “It is easily accessible for students who are studying, at the library or at a party.”
That station’s website furthers SlopeRadio’s multidimensionality. Online, SlopeRadio offers music news and updates in addition to logistical information concerning show descriptions and scheduling. As the station continues to expand, the website will increase its content through student profiles, blogs and promotions.
Even as SlopeRadio’s programs (and its founders) struggle for legitimacy, it’s creation can only be reason for unmitigated celebration. Finally, we will no longer be denounced by our IC brethren as second-tier and lower class. Move over, Ithaca College — this is a music city, and it is ours now.