Students Launch CU Denver’s First Student Radio
A year of live music event planning, social media management, and figuring out logistics has paid off for this entrepreneurial group of students.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Feb 8, 2024
When classmates Natalaie Maul, Annie Bennet, Mariana Cooper, and Lucie Donovan were taking Assistant Professor Matthew O’Brien’s Music Marketing class last year, they had a question: Why doesn’t CU Denver have a student radio? That conversation among four music majors has since evolved into the university’s first student-run radio. The founding members have taken the skills they developed through classes in music business, recording arts, and music performance—along with a fair bit of on-the-job troubleshooting and ingenuity—to create something that didn’t exist before. Not only that, but those original members have also recruited a dozen more students who, like themselves, love all kinds of music and wanted a platform to be able to share it.
“It’s been a year of legwork,” says Denver Lynx Radio (DLR) President Natalaie (Nat) Maul.
What Does It Take to Launch a Radio?
The radio officially launched on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, however the year of work leading up to that launch has grown the team and their knowledge of the music industry. Before they could launch the radio, the group had to figure out the logistics of broadcasting, including where they could utilize a recording studio. Even though they were in and out of CU Denver’s Music & Entertainment Industry Studies (MEIS) recording core thanks to their respective majors, that space was unable to accommodate the volume of recording time they needed to pull off an hours-long, multi-day radio program. Renting space at a studio was also out of reach because although DLR could procure funding from CU Denver’s Student Government Association (SGA) as a student organization, that funding wouldn’t cover the costs. That’s when they found the Auraria Media Podcast Studio (AMPS), located in the Auraria Media Center. The space provided equipment and studio hours the group could use for free.
Currently, DLR is pre-recording shows and broadcasting through their website; SGA funds cover the hosting costs of the site. Eventually, Nat says they would like to broadcast live, but they would need their own space and the funds to pay for an app before they could do that. There are other costs involved, including the necessary licenses required to play the music their show hosts carefully select. For this, Nat turned to her music business training and got the group involved in music event planning. An internship last spring with the live music venue Your Mom’s House taught her how to plan such events. The radio has been involved in partnering with a handful of local venues and organizing several events which have raised funds not only for the radio, but also for the musicians they feature. Jade Price, a music performance major with a singer-songwriter and entrepreneurial emphasis, and the Vice President of DLR, oversees the event management operation.
An Outreach team led by Mariana (a music business major) helps the group cultivate relationships with local artists. The connections DLR has been able to make are helping them get their foot in the door with local venues as well as gaining them a reputation as being in-the-mix of the Denver music scene.
Hard Work Gives Rise to Laid-Back Vibe on the Radio
As I sit to speak with Nat and Jade, a show host named Nora Strom pops out of the recording booth to ask a question. Nora, also a music business major, hosts “Math Class,” a show that features underground EDM. She mixes tracks at home so the transitions between songs are smooth.
Later, show hosts Blu Fernandez (a music business major) and Augie Schroeder (music production) stop by to prepare for their recording session. Their show is called “Bargain Bin” and features alternative rock, hip hop, and electronic music. Augie jokingly describes the vibe as “two morons who like talking on microphones.”
Despite the laid-back feeling of the actual broadcast, the amount of work the students put into shows is evident. They choose songs you won’t hear on mainstream radio stations and, says Nat, it’s written in their bylaws that show hosts will not talk about politics or news—the station is strictly dedicated to music.
A third arm of the radio endeavor is the podcast, which is managed by student Christian Furbeck (music business). The podcast features interviews with local musicians, including bands formed by CU Denver students. Sometimes the podcast takes a more academic turn, for instance, the episode “The Fall of the Berlin Wall & the Rise of Techno” explores the post-Cold War socio-political and cultural landscape which gave rise techno music.
Of course, no one would come to shows, tune in to the broadcast, or listen to a podcast episode without a mechanism to disseminate information and stir interest. This is where the social media team comes in. Led by Emelia Stahl (music business and singer-songwriter emphasis), the team produces content to advertise upcoming shows and events as well as keep followers apprised of the all DLR’s developments over the last year. The social team also manages DLR’s Spotify account and the content on the website. The day the group launched the radio, their Instagram following grew by 50 people and the website saw 500 hits.
“We all feel so much more prepared [to work in the music industry] now that we’ve done this,” Nat says. The radio has given the students real-world experience to pair with the knowledge they’ve gained in their classes. "One thing that I've learned from this experience is that classes can't really teach how person-oriented the music industry is. It truly is smaller than you would think, it feels like everyone knows everyone. I have already met so many fellow musicians here at CU because of DLR. I’m sure I will be working with some of them for the rest of my career,” notes Jade.
As for the immediate future, Nat says they are looking for five more hosts and some fellow students who are interested in reviewing concerts and would like to gain experience writing about and photographing live shows. They are also working on fundraising to be able to broadcast live.
Long term, Nat and Jade have big ambitions for the radio. “I think it could become one of the biggest college radio stations,” Nat says. “But people have to put in the effort for it to maintain what we’ve built.” Jade says, “I really hope that the radio will continue to be an organization that helps with connecting different music students on campus and providing fun events for everyone to enjoy."
Upcoming Denver Lynx Radio Events:
DLR Anniversary Event
15 February 2024 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Emmanuel Art Gallery
15 February 2024 – 7 p.m. Oriental Theater
Guest Speaker: K Flay
21 March 2024
(co-hosted by Music Industry Student Association (MISA) and Supporting Women in Audio Group (SWAG))