KWVA Attends CMJ College Music Day On Tour

On a stormy Portland morning a few Saturdays ago, KWVA made history: we attended College Music Journal’s first College Day On Tour. The day was a hyper-condensed version of the NYC CMJ Music Marathon (which Music Director Taylor Jones wrote about here). The venue, Holocene, was packed full of industry types, musicians, and college radio students from all over the NW and Canada, eager to share and meet like-minded individuals. Below, we present what we learned about the collective college radio world and our thoughts on what’s to come.  




Taylor Jones

KWVA Music Director; DJ Tesla

Radio is not dead. KWVA would not broadcast music, sports and news programs every day of the year if radio was dead. For college and nonprofit stations across the country, radio is very much alive. The broadcast medium gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to engage with their station and their community. College Music Journal benefits radio participants by hosting professional development events like the College Day On Tour in Portland. During the event, one piece of wisdom came from Nikki Mara, Program Director at KCWU. While discussing why radio was important to her, Mara described the practice as a “theatre of the mind,” in which the DJ steps into the booth and enters the world they create on-air. That concept resonated with the radio enthusiasts in the room.

CMJ was strategic in making a Portland event for College Day On Tour. CMJ Music Marathon in New York City is the epicenter of college radio, but many stations from the west coast cannot make the trip. The gloomy Portland weekend saw many new faces from Oregon, Washington and California. Since the audience and length of the event were more condensed than in NYC, the programming was effectively more focused. Panel discussions revolved around college radio and the community, the recording industry and a keynote with The Thermals, all of which were rooted in their relation to the Pacific Northwest.  

Rumor has it that College Day On Tour will head to Chicago in April, 2016. Only a rumor as far as the internet is concerned, but stopping in Chicago would allow CMJ to engage with the radio and music industries of the Midwest. Presenting single-day events around the country works well because they create a space for people to learn about what is most relevant to their facet of the industry.




Ryder Sherwood
KWVA Programming Director; DJ Dad

The constant effort in college radio is to serve the local community. This is the crucial point that all aspects of CMJ Portland pointed to. Unlike what I expected, the crowd was a surprisingly helpful and encouraging young mass of budding talent. It was great to see everyone genuinely trying to assist each other, to share helpful tips and caution failed endeavours. I would expect that everyone left it better than they came in, and it was the nurturing of a regional community of college radio that did that.

The most important part for me was the “Round-Table” discussion. Small groups, led by a facilitating leader/pioneer/participant of their industry, really helped for specific problems to be addressed and answered by other college radio people. My roundtable, led by Paul Riismandel of Radio Survivor, was invaluable to my outlook on KWVA. For starters, I gotta hand it to Paul for creating an atmosphere that was very open, which is hard with a bunch of image-conscious young adults, and for just generally leaving the questions to be answered by the rest of the students there, inputting his own opinion sparsely but effectively.

I learned a lot, and decided I really want to spend whatever time I have left at the U of O and at KWVA trying to help organize this community to create an open environment while just generally being a kick-ass radio station that directly serves the broader Eugene/Springfield area.





Gabrielle Mueller
KWVA Music Blog Coordinator; DJ Elle

I’ll get to talking about what I learned at the conference, but first I’ve got to tell you: the atmosphere for the conference couldn’t have been more fitting. The Holocene was all exposed beams and SE Portland industrial vibes, with the NW’s biggest headphone-heads all gathered in the middle. We were greeted with the competing sounds of rain smacking the roof and an unseen soundcheck coming from somewhere in the venue. As a Cabin Games label executive remarked about the nature of northwest-ers, “the rain keeps us all inside; we’re all heavy thinkers”.

To call us “heavy thinkers” is accurate. In college radio, we pour all of our insides into our sets, while exposing our inner selves by broadcasting across the world. But that’s the beauty of college radio – due to its format, it’s one of the purest platforms out there. You can relate and commiserate with your neighbor by listening to her show, and then afterwards go chat with her about it. That can’t be said for many other forms of broadcasting.

Theory aside, I learned that KWVA is unique in it’s quest to blog-dom. Other universities around the NW and Canada may have a blog, but it’s combined within their social media departments. But this position I have here, it’s my one and only job at the station (besides being DJ Elle). I appreciate this, because it allows me to solely focus on content production and helping others get their thoughts out there. Between brilliant broadcasts and witty words, I think KWVA can conquer the world/greater Eugene area.

If you have any questions or would like to talk more about our experience at CMJ Portland, please reach out to