GCC’s Radio Station Turns Up the Volume

Special to El Vaquero

After 18 years, Glendale College Associate Professor of media arts Mike Petros was almost ready to give up hope on starting a radio station at the college, but thanks to the Internet, his dream has been fulfilled.

“The most fun I had while I was in school was working at the campus radio station,” said Petros, talking about his experience at Western Illinois University. “I want to emulate the experience I had in school for the students.”

Petros said that at first he wanted to start an over-the-airwave radio station. However, difficulties due to Federal Communications Commission regulations that require an engineer to be on duty 24 hours a day, plus the need for funds to pay royalties to record companies, forced him to abandon his plans because of the cost.

This changed when the Internet came along. Petros bought Web casting software two years ago. “We realized that we could do a radio broadcast using the software and a server,” said Petros. “We were Web casting in two days.” At this point, KGCC was born.

Soon after, he wrote the course, “Media Arts 207 – Internet Radio Webcasting,” and began offering it to Glendale College students.
He said, “My motivation in beginning the radio station was to allow the students to learn from a firsthand perspective.”

Petros said that when he started he had three main goals for the radio station. First, to make sure it was recognizable as a campus service. Second, he wanted to bring information and entertainment to staff and students. Finally, he hoped to make it a professional experience for students.

However, the Web radio station almost did not make it. It was in danger of being shut down due to a federal law that was lobbied for by the recording industry. This law required Web casters to pay royalties like any other radio station. Petros said royalties for KGCC would have cost $1,000 a year.

However, Petros found a loop hole that said if the Webcaster is a government or educational institution, and the material used is central to the course, with the Webcast available only on campus, then an institution did not have to pay royalties.

The radio station survived thanks to GCC’s firewall on all computers which prevents hacking, but also prevents KGCC radio from being heard outside of campus.

“[The firewall] turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” said Petros.
Despite being available only on campus, the station dispenses valuable campus information. “Every 30 minutes it is required that the host or hosts of a show spend five minutes talking about information beneficial to Glendale College,” said Petros.

This information includes campus news and events, weather reports and parking information. Petros said this is the key in making the radio station beneficial to all students and faculty.

The station also offers pre-recorded music whenever a show is not airing music shows with hosts during the day and even a sports talk show.

Petros said he hopes to expand the variety of programs on the Web site to include offering live concerts from local bands to opening up the studio to English as a Second Language (ESL) students so they can read poetry and hold group discussions on topics important to them while practicing their English.

He said the last hurdle for the radio station is the ability to attract listeners. Petros said he wants the radio station to “create a high profile on campus,” but unfortunately, not many students know of its existence.

To listen to KGCC Web radio, visit http://arts.glendale.edu and click on the KGCC icon. The link is available on all GCC campus computers, including those in the Library and computer labs. For more information call Mike Petros at (818) 240-1000 ext. 5677.