FAIRBANKS — KSUA, the student-run radio station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has a big honor to cue up and spin: best college radio station in the country.
The station, FM 91.5, won the 2013 mtvU’S Best College Radio Woodie Award, beating out competition from major universities in metropolitan areas from across the country. The Woodie Awards are presented in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest festival, a major 10-day entertainment festival covering music, film and interactive formats such as video gaming and the online world.
“It’s one thing to hear your college radio station is cool,” said Rebecca File, general manager of KSUA. “It’s another thing to hear it from MTV.”
The contest winners are decided upon by online voting that lasted from Feb. 13 to March 14. In January, KSUA found out it was a finalist for the award, and station staff ramped up a campaign to spread the word and encourage voting. Members of KSUA have attended the South by Southwest festival before, and when they found out they were finalists, they made a point to go this year, File said.
At the festival, File received an email stating KSUA had made it to the top five finalists, and from there, it was just a waiting game. On Thursday, the KSUA crew found out they won the award for best college radio station but they didn’t actually get presented the award until the official ceremonies Sunday night.
“It is wonderfully inspiring to see we won with our small population density. To see the state come together to give us votes was really awesome,” File said. “It’s an overall sense of pride for the people at the station and the alumni who have worked at the station.”
Brady Gross, KSUA’s music director, was one of the station employees who was on hand to pick up the award, and word had already spread by the time he made it back to campus in Fairbanks this week, he said.
“I got in at 2 a.m. and had class at 9 a.m.,” Gross said. “Everywhere I walked, people were cheering us on, but I’m more happy for the campus and the community. If we didn’t have the support here in Fairbanks, it wouldn’t have been possible in the first place.”
The major perks of the honor are, for File, a chance to bring more students to take part in working at a nationally recognized radio station. For Gross, it’s the outreach that will come from being named the best radio station in the land.
“It’s going to get a lot of attention for us here in the community,” he said, “and help us get community support for the projects we have planned.”
mtvU is a division of the MTV Network that targets college-aged students and is available on more than 750 college campuses across the United States; the Woodie Awards are mtvU’s top honors, which celebrate everything about college life from best musical artist and video to best radio station. The cable channel is heavy on broadcasting indie rock music, pop punk and hip-hop.
Other college radio stations KSUA defeated include WITR, Rochester Institute of Technology; WPTS, University of Pittsburgh; WXOU, Oakland University; WGCS, Goshen College; KALX, University of California, Berkeley; WZND, Illinois State University; ACRN, Ohio University; WDBM, Michigan State University; and WSOU, Seton Hall University. The student-run radio station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has won an award for the best college radio station in the country.