In 1972, the FCC approved a license for Texas Southern University's FM radio station, 90.9 KTSU ("The Choice"). The station was originally intended to give students in the communications department an opportunity to get hands-on training in the field of broadcast media.
Although a few classes provided that training, KTSU became a predominantly jazz and oldies-oriented station. There had been no on-air student personalities since the popular Saturday-morning '90s hip-hop show Kidz Jamz. That is until the station's only current student-produced and -hosted show, The Movement, began in 2009.
One Friday while in class, broadcast-communications students Charles Holt, James Jones, Rebecca McElrath and Maxie Tarver came up with the concept about how great it would be to host their own radio show on KTSU. Since they all had experience with the station through internships and work-study jobs, they knew their plan would not be difficult to execute.
The students got access to the studio from grad student and KTSU employee Tamesha Brown. "It was all spur-of-the-moment, but we planned to meet at the station that night, got on-air, took over the studio, and a week later we had a live DJ mixing with our own show," says Jones.
Hosted by the "Take Ova Crew," The Movement is more than just another hip-hop radio show. Many of Houston's underground rap artists get their first airplay on the show, which airs Friday nights from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
"What makes our show different from typical commercial radio is that we give the underground a chance to get radio play," Holt says.
Not only are up-and-coming underground artists in rotation, but more mainstream acts such as DJ Drama, Jadakiss, Wale, Rick Ross and even the legendary Devin the Dude have come into the studio to speak with the Take Ova Crew.
The Crew took on two more students in 2010 and 2011, Elvonte Patton and Terrance Bolton. Each member of the Crew has a unique segment on The Movement, and the students also spend part of every show freestyling with a live DJ.
The two primary DJs that mix on the show are Houston's DJ Good Grief and DJ Candlestick of the Nice Guys, but to keep up the variety, different DJs come in to mix.
"We allow student DJ's to come in and get exposure too," says Jones.
Another Houston legend, DJ OG Ron C, is also part of The Movement as an acting mentor who gives advice to the young radio personalities each week. The Take Ova Crew hopes to get more student involvement, and they know that with all the partying that goes down on college campuses, their Friday-night time slot is less than ideal.
"We would like to have more air time at the station," says McElrath. "I feel we should cater more to what the students want to hear. We've been doing this since '09, and I still feel we have so much to prove."
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The Take Ova Crew is very active on TSU's campus, hosting events such as homecoming celebrations and concerts. Still, student listeners and participation are what's most important to them.
"We want to use the show as a gateway," says Bolton, "because in the end the Take Ova Crew is about giving back to the students. This is a pioneering effort."