Seth Mecklenburg | Arts & Life Co-Editor
Buena Vista University’s (BVU) radio station, 97.5 KBVU the Edge, was revamped over the summer and will now include a wider variety of music on the station. The student executive board felt that KBVU was not attracting an audience in the way they wished, and so used the summer to begin the process of making changes in hopes of increasing listeners.
The biggest reason for the changes was the decrease in listener support for the station. KBVU Advisor and Professor of Digital Media Dr. Bruce Ellingson described the decrease in numbers at the station’s annual EDGEdOUT Festival as an example of falling popularity for the Edge.
“Last year was our ninth EDGEdOUT, and EDGEdOUT went from the first year where we had 450 people…to having last year, 75,” Ellingson said.
However, he doesn’t believe it was anything KBVU was doing wrong in particular.
“The bands were just as good or better. The promotions were just as good or better. The music is just not as popular as it once was, and that’s probably true across the nation,” Ellingson said.
The station had previously placed an emphasis on more hardcore rock music. Not as many people are fans of that genre, and station leaders wanted to address that.
Junior Station Manager Annie Reiva also felt there was a lack of knowledge about KBVU.
“People were like, ‘I didn’t even know the campus had a radio station,’ and that was embarrassing,” Reiva said.
Reiva also noted the need to expand music offerings to attract a larger audience.
“We really weren’t exploring all branches of alternative, and we didn’t like that,” Reiva said.
Ellingson believes one of the challenges is the difficulty of playing music everyone appreciates.
“Music lovers love a specific genre… What I like, you’ll turn. What you like, I’ll turn,” Ellingson said.
With that in mind, summer station managers Reiva and junior Scott Locati began working on the station’s image. The staff has also already begun integrating different kinds of music into the station after adding new music all summer.
“It was a slow transition; it wasn’t just to scratch everything,” Locati said.
The staff emphasizes they are expanding on the type of music they play, not phasing out alternative music but rather widening the genre. Focus has been placed on two main areas: top ten alternative and chart toppers.
Overall, Ellingson is not surprised at the dip in numbers, explaining that different music is more popular at different times.
“We’re in a transition now where more of a mix is what’s popular,” Ellingson said.
One of the ways they have been expanding their selection of music is giving station DJs more influence. This gives students who have their own radio shows more freedom to play music they would listen to. Ellingson believes it is important to allow creative opportunities.
KBVU has also started a suggestion box, so the students involved with the station can add the kind of music they would like to hear. Reiva said they want students to learn and have fun while doing it.
Ellingson has many examples of the types of music being integrated into KBVU.
“We’re playing oldies that I haven’t heard before from back in the sixties, and I think you‘re going to hear more of the hip hop sneaking in. I think it’s just going to be more expansive,” Ellingson said.
A major part of KBVU’s changes is the look. KBVU tasked junior graphic design major Cassie Forsyth with creating a new logo. Locati believes the new logo has key differences from the old one.
“If you look at our old logo, it was really edgy. With this new logo, we kind of wanted to shy away from that. We wanted to show ourselves as a friendly station, in kind of an inviting, new, and hip way,” Locati said.
The new logo has not been unveiled yet, but when it is, it will complete the re-imagined KVBU. Both Reiva and Locati hope to be very involved with the community and become a community friendly station.
“They have a really good sense of where they want to go. They have a strong sense of leadership. That’s probably what I’m most proud of,” Ellingson said.
KBVU will be going through more changes throughout the year, and they hope to be able to expand their audience with their new image and musical lineup.
Photo by Cassie Forsyth