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WRUV wins international college radio title

April 5, 2012
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WRUV listeners tuned in for nearly 152 days of music—in just the past three days.

In the end, this listener commitment proved enough to win WRUV an enviable title among college radio stations: that of most listened-to college station.

WRUV-FM 90.1, a student-run station staffed by University of Vermont students and local DJs, competed against 63 other stations in Soundtap Madness, a bracket-style event patterned after the NCAA basketball tourney.

The contest started March 15, with pairs of college stations competing for online listening hours through the Soundtap platform. In the NCAA bracket tradition, winners advanced through rounds of 64, then 32, 16, 8, 4 and finally 2. Each round involved three days’ worth of listening, with each listener’s hours being added to the station’s total.

Most stations are based in the United States, but among the 64 were stations from Canada, France, New Zealand, Austria, Australia, Turkey and Spain.

WRUV came close to being knocked out in the round of 8 when its competitor, KTRU of Rice University in Houston, Texas, logged 2,161 hours in the three-day round. WRUV managed to come out ahead with nearly 2,309 hours, or the equivalent of 96 days of listening, among many listeners.

The final round—against WRCT of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Penn.—proved to be even closer.

Soundtap scheduled the tournament to end at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday, which was 2:59 a.m. UVM time Thursday. Hundreds of listeners logged in to continue to accumulate hours.

In the end, UVM listeners logged more than 3,645 hours—just 23 hours more than Carnegie Mellon.

The Soundtap Final

WRUV DJs—students, grads and community members alike—cheered one another along throughout the night. (Soundtap’s platform required listeners to confirm regularly that they were still listening.)

At 2 a.m. Thursday, former station manager McCrae Hathaway, a 2011 grad, emailed to the WRUV DJ listserv: “TEXT ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND WAKE THEM UP TO REFRESH THEIR PAGE. WE HAVE 1 HOUR LEFT!!!”

An hour and a minute later, community member Jeff Pascoe, who serves as the station’s international music director, announced to the listserv: “So nerve-wracking! Way too close! … WRUV RULES!”

Pascoe, who deejays under the name “Jay Paul,” also provided the game stats:

As of 2:30 Wednesday—or roughly 12 hours before the end of the tournament—nearly 400 people had listened to WRUV on Soundtap in just the last two and a half days. Of these:

  • 290 listened for more than an hour. Of these…
  • 200 listened for more than an hour/day on average (>180 min). Of these…
  • 53 listened for more than five hours/day on average (>900 min). Of these…
  •  9 listened for more than 10 hours/day on average (>1800 min).

WRUV Program Director Sarah Moylan, a senior, had been proclaiming for days–maybe weeks–that WRUV would win.

Once the results were in, she wrote in an email: “!!!aghhh!!! So excited! . . . Taking part in the Soundtap tournament has been an incredible experience.”

She added: “WRUV has a very diverse group of DJs and listeners, and this tournament brought everyone together.It also brought us a ton of new listeners—I had family members, friends, and friends of family members tuning into WRUV that had never listened to the station before. It was awesome. Winning the whole tournament was just the icing on the cake.”

WRUV’s leadership thanked the station’s listeners Thursday with a post at WRUV.org.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of you, your friends, family, cousins, uncles, neighbors, and coworkers,” the post read. “WRCT put up a tough fight, but in the end, it was The Better Alternative who came out victorious!”

Soundtap is a social media platform that features live streams from several hundred non-commercial radio stations, along with station profiles and live chat. The site was founded last year by three independent radio DJs with a passion for independent radio. Stations participating in the “Soundtap Madness” competition were selected based on their popularity on the Soundtap website during the previous three months.

WRUV-FM is a non-profit, non-commercial, 460 watt educational station licensed by the FCC, funded by the UVM Student Government Association as well as community underwriting, and run entirely by student and community volunteers. The station was founded at UVM in 1955 and became one of the first AM radio stations in the Burlington area.

The station added FM broadcasting in 1965 and then became strictly an FM station in the mid-1970s. WRUV added Internet broadcasting in the mid-1990s, and was recently recognized as one of the “Top Online Radio Stations of the Decade” by radiotower.com.

WRUV broadcasts 24 hours/day seven days/week both over the air and on-line at WRUV.org. Programming is at each DJ’s discretion, with the provisos that at least 25% of the music must be from the station’s new music collection, and no music can be played that was ever in the Billboard Top 100. This guarantees an interesting mix, as does the fact that the broadcast booth is just steps from the largest music library in the State of Vermont.

To hear from the most listened-to college station, stream live at www.wruv.org.

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