The KRLX board of directors recently voted to turn down an offer from the largest group owner of radio stations in the U.S., media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications.
“Early December I got a call from Clear Channel, who had identified KRLX as one of the top college radio stations in the country,” said KRLX station manager Danny Nathan ’12. “They would have given us equipment to make our sound go out on the internet as professionally as theirs does. In exchange for that, they would have put KRLX on their iHeartRadio app.”
Launched in 2008, iHeartRadio is a Clear Channel radio network that streams live, local radio stations online and to apps on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7.
“It sounded like an okay idea at first, but it had several drawbacks,” Nathan said.
For the majority of KRLX board members, the new equipment was not alluring enough to take the deal. “They would give us the equipment, but they would still own it,” Nathan said. “They could take it away at any point.”
If Clear Channel did not like KRLX’s programming, they could pull all of the equipment. On top of that, the contract also left maintenance of the equipment to KRLX, which may have added to long-term operating costs. KRLX board member Benjamin Somogyi ’12 was strongly opposed to the deal.
“We have a pretty large budget and the only benefit for signing up with Clear Channel would be a $2,000 piece of equipment that we could easily purchase,” Somogyi said. “It would be a loss of independence for no benefit.”
While the contract would have no direct impact on KRLX programming, many board members felt that accepting the deal would be selling out.
“They weren’t asking us to change our programming,” Nathan said, “but we could no longer claim to be a fully independent, student-run, college-owned radio station.”
When Nathan first brought the offer to the board, most members found it exciting. Over the course of three meetings the group quickly changed its mind, and when it came time to vote, all but one member voted to turn down the offer. Joey Fishman ’13 was that member. “I was very excited for it. Basically it seemed like they were giving us better equipment, which was worth a fair bit of money, and more exposure,” Fishman said. “It really didn’t seem like there was anything bad about that at all.”
While the board turned down the opportunity to reach a mobile audience on the iHeartRadio app, KRLX is already available on TuneIn. Similar to iHeartRadio, TuneIn allows users to listen to over 50,000 radio stations available both online and as a free app. Had KRLX accepted the offer, Clear Channel Communications would have had exclusive rights over their internet stream. KRLX would have had to pull their live stream from all other sites and apps, including TuneIn.
Fourteen colleges across the na-tion accepted Clear Channel’s offer. But Nathan is sure that KRLX—with over 10 percent of campus participating as DJs and a number 14 ranking in the Princeton Review’s list of top college radio stations—does not need Clear Channel Communications’ equipment or app.
“Obviously it would be great to get free stuff, but all of the baggage that comes along with that free stuff was not worth it to us,” Nathan said. “It comes down to the fact that we can do this ourselves, we should do this ourselves, and we’ll be better if we do it ourselves.”