Ever in the mood to listen to something a little different than the usual Spotify or Apple Music playlists? The solution is quick, easy and located right on campus. UCI’s radio station, KUCI, plays non-commercial, non-mainstream music 24/7 so there’s always something new to listen to even at 4 a.m. Unfortunately, KUCI is rarely played on and around campus — despite many of the music and public affairs shows being hosted by UCI students. Playing KUCI on the Anteater Express, in Zot-n-Go, or even in the reception areas of offices would boost KUCI listenership and show support for the students that work hard to create their shows.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am on staff at KUCI and have been for the past three years. It’s become an integral part of my life at UCI, and I’ve been lucky to host multiple shows at the station. Being a part of KUCI has shown me how hard students work to craft their shows. Music shows take hours to curate and there is truly an art to combining songs that will create a good flow for a two-hour show. Public affairs hosts spend weeks arranging interviews and writing scripts to discuss important issues or provide informative discussions with experts in a field.
KUCI was conceived in 1968, just three years after UCI was founded, in engineering student Craig Will’s dorm room. What began as a pirate radio station grew to become one of the most influential independent radio stations in Orange County. KUCI occasionally receives criticism that the music is “too weird.” However, numerous “mainstream” artists that hit it big were played on KUCI before they became the legends they are today. Some of those artists include The Clash, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Death Cab for Cutie, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Beck, U2 and more.
KUCI DJs have to meet the challenge of finding artists that deserve airplay but don’t get it because they aren’t backed by large record labels that funnel thousands of dollars into promotion. Anyone who is interested in joining KUCI is welcome, and being a part of the station provides invaluable experience for students. Many alumni from KUCI have gone on to work in the music industry or at the very least used the skills they learned to help them in their careers. The primary audience for all the hard work that goes into each show is fellow students and the local Irvine community. By not playing the station around campus and on the buses consistently, it severely hinders the potential audience the station could reach.
“KUCI is my creative outlet where I can be a part of a community that shares a passion of promoting and sharing talent in the Orange County community and underground music as a whole,” said Josie Padron, a first-year KUCI DJ. “We are a family who needs just as much support as the next campus organization.”
This isn’t to say that every minute of every day has to be tuned into KUCI on the buses. However, simply putting a license plate border that says “KUCI 88.9FM” isn’t enough. Playing the station for a least a few hours each day will greatly improve listenership and help promote other events on campus. Many of the public service announcements (PSA) played on KUCI are campus-related. KUCI often plays PSAs about Claire Trevor School of the Arts and upcoming events they may have. Some PSAs feature Chancellor Howard Gillman. These PSAs are announced for a reason and having KUCI played on the buses will ensure they are heard. Additionally, being played on the bus allows students to be exposed to the possibility of being a part of KUCI.
“I know a few people who discovered KUCI when they heard it on the shuttle,” said KUCI DJ Caitlin Ison. “It’s really cool because it got them to inquire and eventually train to be a DJ themselves.”
KUCI has been heard on the bus sporadically but with such a special and unique organization on campus that was specifically created to be listened to while driving, the Anteater Express buses should make a larger effort to support students’ hard work. KUCI is made by students, for students and should be supported by students.
Caitlin Antonios is a third year english and literary journalism major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.