Student life: Students get hands-on, career-building skills at Radio 1190

October 17, 2013

From a basement office in the UMC, Radio 1190 broadcasts an unpredictable and mind-boggling variety of music -- indie punk, ska, and techno one hour, R&B, metal and noise the next. The station is a collective endeavor that allows students to get on the air and share their love of music.

For sophomore Alexis Aaeng, working at CU-Boulder’s radio station gives her the opportunity to learn about the radio broadcast industry. Her father was involved in the Denver punk scene, so Aaeng grew up listening to bands like the Ramones and Flipper. As a result, mainstream, top-40 music doesn’t interest her. Miley, who? With her alternative tastes, it was inevitable for Aaeng to gravitate to 1190, CU-Boulder’s independent, student-run radio station that prides itself on a diverse music mix that includes local, national and international artists.

“Music of all kinds has been a big part of my life, specifically the type of music that’s played here,” she said. “I grew up listening to bands you wouldn’t expect a child to like. My first CD was Simon and Garfunkel. Last December I just wandered into the station and started volunteering.”

When the promotions and web director position opened up last spring, she interviewed for it and has been working in the position since. Aaeng also is a DJ during the Thursday, 10 a.m.-to-noon slot. Recently she co-hosted an evening show of surf music that featured a 40-minute on-air interview with Dick Dale, known as The King of the Surf Guitar.

“Our rotation changes every week,” said Aaeng, a history major. “It’s never the same. I think it’s cool that you can randomly pull a CD out of a stack of 24,000 CDs and find a gem you’d never expect to hear. We’re using professional equipment and broadcasting throughout Colorado and all over the world.”

Radio 1190 also provides live and archived music streams, high-profile artist interviews, album reviews, news, sports and community information.

With 10 student manager positions, including DJs, and 50-75 volunteers who can work their way up to on-air positions, 1190 is an educational and hands-on professional training ground for students who are in interested in a radio-industry career, according to Mikey Goldenberg (’02 Econ), general manager of 1190 and an adjunct journalism professor. The station provides students with the experience and skills to work in radio industry markets from LA and Austin to Chicago and New York.

“I try to empower students to build up their credentials so that they get experience in music engineering, audio production, being a DJ and doing promotions,” Goldenberg said. “I challenge them to create a website with clips, audio recordings, videos and interviews they’ve conducted."

A grad student in computer science, Michael Odbert (’12 CompSci) started out as a volunteer studio engineer nearly four years ago and has since moved up to operations director.  When bands come to the station, he takes care of the sound engineering for them. The station recently upgraded its equipment and Odbert set up the new soundboard. He has done everything from soundproofing the live sound room to building the shelves that hold the 24,000 CDs.

Aside from being able to listen to all the great music, Odbert’s favorite part of  working at the station is the experience he’s gained.

“Getting paid to be in music is super fun,” said Odbert. “I’ve learned so much about sound engineering, management and just figuring things out while listening to infinite amounts of really good music.  I would be a very different person if I hadn’t gotten involved.”

Recently, Goodwill redecorated the station using furniture from Goodwill stores, making 1190 a comfortable and cool space to work and hang out.

And, of course, listen to music.

“Working here provides you with so many opportunities if you’re interested in broadcast or radio journalism,” said Aaeng. “The best way to break in is to just come down here between classes. There’s always someone here to talk to.”

Photo courtesy of Radio 1190.

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