You can now add Vanderbilt University’s WRVU/Nashville to the continuing list of college radio stations getting the axed from the airwaves. Back in September of 2010, the Vanderbilt Student Communications announced they were looking into moving the famed Nashville college radio station from the air to solely online. Well yesterday, VSC and Nashville Public Radio confirmed that WRVU’s license has been sold to WPLN, Nashville’s NPR affiliate. WRVU’s spot on FM radio will be replaced by new classical station WFCL, which began broadcasting programming at midnight CDT. As part of the deal’s terms, WRVU will continue to stream online and will gain control of WPLN’s HD3 channel in the fall of 2011.
The news of the sale comes after months of protests from both WRVU staff and alumni. In addition to vocal out cries, the “Pledge Nothing” campaign, which urged university donors to suspend donating to Vanderbilt until sales discussion were abandoned, was launched. Despite the sale becoming official, administrators of a blog site dedicated to saving WRVU’s FM license claims that the “fight isn’t over” and will continue their efforts.
What makes this news even more disappointing, besides the fact that this marks the end of WRVU’s six decade life span on terrestrial radio, is that the college station apparently averaged 28,500 listeners between July and October 2010. In other words, WRVU was doing considerably well. While online broadcast will keep WRVU alive (somewhat), the station will now have additional operating costs for streaming royalties and bandwidth. Plus, exclusively streaming online and HD3 in the Fall will decrease its audience reach considerably.
As Bram and I have said it before, news like this hits us pretty hard, and not just because we’re both involved with college radio stations in different fashions. College radio remains a vital source for both the music fans and students wanting to gain experience. College radio’s extinction is a scary thought, but with news like this doesn’t sound as unlikely.