Webcasting attracts more BSR listeners

Kenny Peris

Black Squirrel Radio has had a major success with the introduction of its online radio service, otherwise known as “Webcasting.”

Webcasting, a concept complementing BSR’s new look and Web site, allows listeners on and off campus to tune in to broadcasts on their computers. It’s a way to attract people who might not be able to listen off campus, but who are still interested in hearing the news and live shows.

BSR disc jockey Katie Purcell said it is a way to attract people who don’t generally listen to know there are other ways to tune in.

“It can be heard anywhere with Internet,” Purcell said. “With radio, the farthest you can listen is around Kent.”

Purcell said the feature has helped increase the number of call-ins and listeners over the semester.

Senior electronic media production major and BSR Urban Media Director Micah Manus encourages anyone on and off campus to log on to the new site and tune into the shows, all of which will be broadcast during the usual timeslots. Listeners can also call in to request songs or sign on to AOL Instant Messenger and request via the BSR screen name KentBSRRadio.

“You can send us an instant message in studio if you have a request for a song,” Manus said. “If we have the song, our DJs will be happy to play it.”

Listeners can also tune into a playlist of selected songs online at anytime of the day.

Manus said that the Webcasting feature allows BSR to be heard anywhere around the world where there is a high-speed Internet connection. It also allows students’ family and friends to hear them on air.

Purcell had a shining example to demonstrate the range BSR’s Webcasting feature has reached with a friend who is currently serving in Iraq. He calls in to her show every Tuesday with his buddies overseas and they dedicate songs and tributes to their family, friends and girlfriends. They have since convinced other soldiers to sign online and listen to the broadcasts and do the same.

“It shows how students at Black Squirrel Radio connect to soldiers overseas,” said Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “That is the potential that Black Squirrel Radio has.”

BSR doesn’t have a current FM frequency, and Manus said that the Web is currently the main focus of broadcasting. He also said it is just as effective because of the change in radio.

“People are moving more towards satellite, Internet and iPods for their radio rather than tuning into standard frequency radio,” Manus said. “Most people only listen to standard radio when they are driving in their cars.”

One of the biggest features of electronic media, unlike print media, is the interactivity of it, said Ben Whaley, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication. He said while letters to the editor are still prevalent, there are plenty of people out there who call into radio shows, locally or nationally.

“The media business today and for the foreseeable future is that of content provider,” Whaley said. “Internet has spread these features even more widely.”

Fruit said that one of the major things to accomplish in electronic media is finding what people want and delivering it. Part of that is the focus on local bands and the new addition of “podcasting,” downloading music and segments of the shows off of Web sites and onto an iPod.

“We record in-studio band interviews from our local music shows and we also record phone interviews and freestyles from our urban music shows,” Manus said. “Once we start podcasting, listeners will be able to play back portions of their favorite shows whenever they want. They will also have the capability to add these podcasts to their iPods or even put them on CD.”

Manus hopes the new features will encourage students, faculty and anyone else to tune in and listen in the background of their office, room or apartment.

“They can use us as their soundtrack for studying, just hanging out with friends or just music to listen to while you are online browsing or talking to friends,” Manus said.

The Webcasting feature can be found on BSR’s Web site, www.KentBSR.com under the “listen live” link. It can be played through Windows Media Player, Real Player, iTunes and Winamp in High Definition.

Contact student media reporter Kenny Peris at [email protected].