Music ó WUNH is radio unshackled
WUNH is radio unshackled
Freedom rings loud & clear at 91.3FM
By Bruce Bressack  bbressack@hippopress.com

My daughter Katie graduated from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 2002, and my son, Michael, will graduate in May. And, playing in the background all those years was WUNH, 91.3FM on your radio dial.

Because WUNH is sponsor-free (hallelujah) it is able to play all types of music. If they like it, they play it ó itís as simple and uncomplicated as that. Itís unshackled, unbridled, unabridged radio.

There are no corporate-multimedia-conglomerates hovering overhead waiting to drop missiles (a.k.a., pull funds) if they dare to do or say something untoward, uncomplimentary or un-nothing. Freedom rings (loud & clear) at 91.3FM. Want proof? Surf to www.wunh.unh.edu, go to the schedule/listen webpage, select a show, and listen.

When the opportunity to do an article on college radio presented itself, I was grateful that Greg Falla, WUNH music director, responded to my Hippo questions. Falla graduates in May, and one can only hope that he will continue to bring freedom and choice to the airwaves. As a country, we need it, and we deserve it!

Q: How long has WUNH been on-the-air, and how many listeners do you typically reach?

Iím not positive of the exact year, but WUNH, as it is now, started somewhere between 30-35 years ago. The ďBlues ShowĒ is having its 30th anniversary this year, and the station started a few years prior to that. Our radio signal reaches as far south as Boston, and as far north as Portland, Maine. Itís hard to say who could be listening at those times, but I would venture that a minimum of a few thousand people could be tuned in at any time on a radio. We also have the Internet link, which means people from all over the world can listen live at any time as well, so itís pretty difficult to know solid numbers.

Q: How did you get involved in the station, and whatís the main role of the music director?

We have new DJs meetings once a semester and I went to one the first semester of my sophomore year, and have been involved since then. The main role of the music director, to say it in as few words as possible, is to listen to all of the new music we get in the mail and decide what gets added into the catalog. We also have specialty DJs who do the same thing within their music department (i.e.; jazz; hip hop; folk) but I add about 90 percent of the new music myself.

Q: What gets you excited about the station, and what have you learned that you didn't expect to learn?

Hearing new music has always been the most exciting part for me. Every time I open a new CD I have been looking forward to, that is my favorite thing. And playing new music on the air for people to hear.

Q: Where do you want to wind up when you graduate? A career in the broadcast industry?

I am graduating in May, and I donít really know. The job I do here is basically a dream job, but realistically, itís not something that exists in the radio world, outside of  college. Commercial radio has no appeal to me at all, and I doubt I will ever have anything to do with it.

Q: How does WUNH select/determine your on-air talent and support staff, and do the students receive credits toward their degree program?

Anyone who is an undergraduate at UNH has the ability to become a DJ. We have no rules/guidelines in terms of selecting people. Itís all up to them. So, itís usually people who are fairly into music and have the time/energy to do it. Right now, there is no sort of credit program with the school. It is all volunteer.

Q: What type of music does the station play, and who are the current top artists that your on-air talent plays and/or that your listeners request?

We play anything that is non-commercial, not on a huge label and that is ďgood,Ē for lack of a better word. We have a specialty show for just about any sort of music, from metal to polka and anywhere in between and outside of that. Right now, the top artists in terms of airplay are the Decemeberists, Cars Are The Atars, Hella, and M83 to name a few.

Q: How do singer-songwriters/bands/non-mainstream artists submit their music for airplay consideration, and what criteria do you use to determine what WUNH will play on-air?

Anyone who wants to can send their music to our address, and we will listen to it. Personally, I select music based on the commercial label thing, looking at the large picture, and in just how pleasing it is. If it is talented, different, adventurous sounding, thatís what I like to hear. Once I put the CDs into the new stacks, itís up to the DJ what gets played. We have no rules/restrictions besides the DJ should play around 60 percen new stacks music, anything that has been added within the past two months. Otherwise, they pick and choose to their own liking.

Q: Have any unknown artists become well-known or popular based on the exposure provided by WUNH? If so, who are they and how are they doing these days?

Iíve heard rumors that WUNH was one of the first stations in the U.S. to play U2; and we all know what happened with them. There has to be a good chunk of other bands like this, although I can't say for sure [bands like R.E.M. are good examples]. I do know more recent ones that we have played early on and they went on to become pretty big, such as the White Stripes, Interpol, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, etc. We canít really say that we had anything to do with them becoming big, but we definitely played them much earlier than the major radio stations, MTV, and so on.

ó    Bruce Bressack

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Artists who would like their music considered for air-play at WUNH should mail their CD (and contact information) to:

WUNH
Memorial Union Building
Durham, NH 03824
attn: music director
 

 
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