On The Air

The bouncing melody of Me Like Bees’ “Tundraland” emanates from the speakers in the KXMS studio, the song portion of an hour-long block devoted to local talent.

For those accustomed to hearing only classical music played during the daytime, the upbeat number from the Joplin based indie rock band might come as a surprise when tuning in. But it’s the result of an effort to have students be more involved in the day-to-day operation of the station, and to expand the “fine arts” referred to in 88.7 FM’s longstanding tagline – “Fine Arts Radio International.”

“KXMS has been well known as a classical station,” says junior communications major Justin Eves. “Classical music is definitely ‘fine arts,’ but ‘fine arts’ doesn’t mean just classical. It’s any kind of genre.”

Between 3 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, student produced programming offers a broad range of music, including modern rock, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic and tracks from the local music scene. Eves, who hosts Monday evening’s “Hour in the ‘80s” show as East Bay J, likes to offer a mix of favorites and “outlandish” international tracks audiences may not be familiar with.

Kirsten Blaser, senior mass communications major and the station’s student coordinator, says she enjoyed getting hands-on experience, but was a proponent of making the station a student-run affair.

“We wanted students to be heard on weekdays,” she says. “It draws more students to the practicum and the Communication Department in general. They get to pick what genre they want to feature on their show and what the format will be.”

Students learn how to use the digital audio delivery system, how to record a program and format a playlist.

“Our department strives to give students a real-world, on-the-job experience,” says Kisa Clark, coordinator of the student practicum. “Now they’re really getting it.”

“In the daytime, we still offer classical music for our pretty big base of listeners. But we also want to attract new listeners who might be interested in new programming.”

Daytime classical music programming comes courtesy of WCPE, a 24-hour classical station based in North Carolina. Weekends offer a mix of Missouri Southern sports coverage, opera and blues. It’s a mix of old and new that is building on the station’s already loyal audience.

“We seem to be getting a lot of positive feedback,” says Eves. “It’s really exciting.”