Freeform Vs Commerical Radio
Free Form Radio is a programming format in which the DJ is given total control to play music across all genres without the restraints of commercial interests. This of course stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of commercial radio where the DJ has little to no control over programming playlists.
Imagine, now, if you will that Freeform Radio is a handmade mixtape created just for you, the listener.
Whereas standard radio is a generic collection of bargin bin hits meticulously crammed into one place looped over and over and over again.
Isn’t the choice obvious?
Well, Sir, If It’s So Stinkin’ Great Then Why Isn’t Everybody Doing It?
Well, the long and short of it is, money.
It costs money to broadcast from a radio tower, to comply to FCC regulations, to hire staff to produce content and djs to host programming.
All of this costs money, and this is usually paid for by selling advertising.
But, Freeform radio stations are generally supported by listener donors like you.
Once or twice a year you’re asked to donate to help support the programming you enjoy. So, if enough people donate enough money the radio station keeps broadcasting.
It is because of this that many freeform radio stations exist on the airwaves of our nations college campuses.
88.3 WCBN FM Ann Arbor
My local Freeform station is 88.3 WCBN FM Ann Arbor broadcasting from the student activities building of the University of Michigan.
WCBN was first created in 1952 when three existing broadcasting systems on campus pooled resources.
It underwent several changes over the years until finally recieving the call sign 88.3 WCBN in 1977.
To this day it’s programming is mostly freeform and speciality shows. There are many long running favorites including Bill Monroe For Breakfast, Nothin’ But the Blues, Crush Collision, Face The Music, Short Stack, and The Prop Shop.
Several of these shows have more continuously for over for 20 years.
The Future Of Radio
These days people are tuning less into radio signals and more into streaming music services, such as Spotify, Napster, and Apple Music.
I purpose by embracing this new technology and combining the ideology of the mixtape the freeform programmer is now given the entire catalog of the worlds music (well, almost the entire catalog come on Garth Brooks! Get on the bandwagon!) with the limitless potential to mix all genres seamlessly.
The Dj need simply create playlists on streaming music services and share them with their fans.
Charlie Le Fol