The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Greensboro’s college radio is still making waves

It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re scanning through Greensboro’s radio stations. There’s some talk on NPR. On another station, you can hear the same 10-song playlist of pop music they’ve been playing for the past month. And then you tune to “The Voice” on 90.1 FM WNAA.”Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about,” he announces. “Yours truly, DJ Jimmy Jam, right here on the Friday Afternoon Jump-off Mix.”

You’re listening to college radio, and for the next hour, DJ Jimmy Jam plays a mix of music you can’t find anywhere else on the dial – like ’80s and ’90s hip-hop, Kraftwerk, and Newcleus.

Something Different

College radio stations are a place where you can hear students and sometimes community members on the air for love of the music. There are three college radio stations in the Greensboro area: A&T’s 90.1 WNAA, Guilford College’s 90.9 WQFS, and UNC Greensboro’s 103.1 WUAG. Each of the area stations offers its own variety of college radio.

On WUAG, you will tend to hear a mix of electronic music, hip-hop, and indie rock, according to WUAG general manager Jack Bonney.

“Lately we’ve been trying to get reissues of world music,” said Bonney, who manages the station, which calls itself “always changing.”

On WNAA, there are a wide variety of genres, from talk radio, to gospel, to old school hip-hop and R&B, as well as a radio show for children.

At WQFS, where you can hear metal, hip-hop, bluegrass, and indie rock (among other things), the station prides itself on not playing any Top 40 music.

“Alternative programming has always been the thing (our) station has thrived on,” said Max Cawley, junior and general manager of WQFS. “Our programming has consistently been stuff that you wouldn’t hear on mainstream radio.”

College radio is often a way to connect the campus to the larger community.

“More people in the (Greensboro) community know about us than on campus,” said Bonney. And according to WNAA station manager Tony Welborne, many students who apply to A&T have learned about the institution by growing up with the radio station.


Many college radio stations were started by a small group of students, as was the case with WNAA.

“The radio station started out as an AM station,” said Welborne. “Myself and four other students built the first station back in 1966 as a class project.”

According to Welborne, who graduated from A&T in ’79, the station soon upgraded to an FM license, and became “professionally run, with student assistance.”

WUAG, which has been on the air since 1965, attracted students who were interested in the radio profession, according to Bonney.

“The station first started off like a lot of other college radio stations across the country, sort of as a laboratory for people interested in getting involved in radio,” said Bonney. “At that point there were a lot more jobs in radio.”

WQFS went on air for the first time in 1970. It will celebrate its 40th anniversary in April with a festival.

“There’s going to be bands . . . and a whole lot of alumni are going to come,” said Cawley.

Future Prospects

At a time when commercial broadcasters fear the dominance of iPods, Pandora, and podcasting, all three stations are confident that looking to the future, there will be a place for college radio.

“We’ve seen that in the music industry as a whole, fears change,” said Cawley. “The radio industry is not immune to that. That being said, we’re an independent radio station and we’re not afraid of (the radio industry’s future) at all.”

“The colleges are always going to realize that this is a good thing for us to invest in,” said Bonney. “If it’s something that students do and like, universities are going to continue to fund it. It’s not going to go anywhere.”

“Where did you first get exposed to the music?” Welborne asks. “You didn’t just decide to put a song on your iPod you never heard of before. Because radio is passive, a lot of people don’t realize where they first heard their music.”

College radio plays an integral role in popularizing underground bands among younger audiences. No matter what happens to the music industry itself, college stations will continue to play music that appeals to their built-in campus audiences.

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