New tune in town: KDRU brings 'college sound' radio to Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There is something fairly new in the air-- make that 'on' the air.
KDRU, 'Dru' as in Drury University, is the campus radio station making a mark on the local airwaves.

At 98.1 on the FM dial, it's the only independent radio station in Springfield completely operated by college students.

"I am proud of the different skills I have been able to accumulate," said Erin Hotchkiss, a student who also serves as the news director for the station. "I am proud that these people just kind of let me hop in; I think it was kind of the right place at the right time..."

It's a hands-on learning laboratory that's benefiting the whole community.

"Not only is it something fun to do, I think it is certainly a good experience for students,' said Kent Otto, an adjunct professor who had a big hand in getting the station on the air.

KDRU started out as an online endeavor. Then, about three years ago, the school began the FCC process to move from broadband-only to broadcast.

"The student government association at Drury has put up a lot of the money to support this, which is why it is a student driven venue," said Jonathan Groves, an associate professor in the Communication Department.

The long process entailed reactivating an existing broadcast tower on campus. Rising above the college grounds, the transmitter was used years ago when the campus was home to the local PBS affiliate station. The license was finally granted by the FCC last September, and the station soon hit the airwaves.

"It wasn't until we got the antennae and turned the antenna on that people felt like it was real," said Groves. "It took it up a notch and made it feel more professional than what we were doing over the internet."

"It really puts a lot of pressure on to make your show and make the station the best that it can be," said student Clayton Baumgarth, station manager.

The station has a 100-watt low power signal, which reaches most of the city of Springfield. Individuals can also continue to listen to KDRU at http://kdruradio.com

Music-wise, it's a new sound in town: indie pop and alternative by day; electronic by night. Locally, KDRU is the first to offer this format, which is popular in many other college towns across the country. The station also hopes to feature other lesser-known artists and local bands.

"We are certainly trying to offer something different and I think so far we have certainly achieved that," said Otto.

Students also have their owns shows, highlighting oldies music, sports, and community news and information.

"Now that we have so many students that are interested doing podcasts and content related shows, I am really looking forward to working with them the next school year," said Hotchkiss.

Interestingly, the new radio station was launched at a time when more and more people get their music and news from online streaming services.

"I think ultimately our goal is to create good content and distribute that in radio is fun and all but I wonder how long it is going to be here. But, I think KDRU has really come to show me that it is still sticking around for quite some time."