College radio has a long tradition of being a platform for music lovers and artists who wouldn’t necessarily get radio play on mainstream stations. For years, they have served as a great way to expose and educate listeners on non commercial music, in turn inspiring younger artists with new sounds.
Catching the listening ears on college campuses has often led to selling out venues and more in towns all around the country. If it wasn’t for college radio stations, bands like R.E.M and The Pixies may never have experienced such widespread success.
Houston’s KTRU broadcasted out of Rice University is no exception. They are celebrating their fiftieth year on the air and though last year's Outdoor Show was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year they are going on with the show while adapting to the times.
“Definitely not a lot of past precedent to go on,” says Katelyn Landry, a third year history student at Rice who organized this year's impressive event. Landry had volunteered to possibly organize the event prior to the pandemic with the intention to “learn the ropes” from the previous year's organizer but as the show was canceled in 2020, that didn't happen.
“It kind of just fell into my lap but I'm glad it did and I hope it goes well,” she says of organizing the 29th annual KTRU Outdoor Show. Landry describes Rice University’s COVID policies as “strict and well enforced.” She used the policies in place to begin planning the event back in December of 2020.
Rice University is currently closed to non community members so unlike previous years, this year's Outdoor Show can only be attended in person by students and faculty and identification is required to enter campus. But those unable to attend can stream itonline for free through Facebook.
Student who wish to attend in person need to RSVP online. The event will be socially distanced with performances played on a large screen and food trucks available nearby. There will also be an art installation by Houston artist Chandrika and Rice students.
“It’s been sad and unfortunate that the wider Houston community can’t join us and that it’s not the usual free flowing kind of event that it usually would be, but I still have tried to make it a good show,” says Landry.
This year's event will feature ten artists who all submitted pre-recorded 45 minute performances which will air one time only online and in Rice’s central quad for the event which runs from noon to 10 p.m.
Landry, who in previous years was a student DJ at the station, used her knowledge of local bands and asked for suggestions online from students and listeners to create her lineup, the largest in history for the Outdoor Show.
“I think historically it's just been about celebrating KTRU and celebrating Houston artists in general,” says Landry. “A big part of it is bringing the community onto Rice campus, which is why this year it's just very unfortunate that that can't happen, but I think that has been the mission to kind of break the bubble around Rice for a minute so to speak.”
College radio stations also provide students with one of a kind and enriching opportunities to get involved in programming and Landry agrees that the experience has provided her with a much needed respite from school work and other responsibilities while allowing her to explore new bands.
“I think KTRU is, I feel like saying something is ‘underground’ is a little pretentious, but it's a pretty smallish community compared to some other organizations on campus and campus as a whole so it's nice to just bring attention to it,” says Landry.
Adding, “I think people my age don't really listen to radio. We just listen to our own playlists so it's kind of nice to encourage people to get back into the olden days of listening to radio every once in a while, even if it's on your computer, and embracing music that you wouldn't normally listen to.”
KTRU 29th Annual Outdoor Show will take place Saturday, April 24 on Rice Campus Central Squad for Rice Students and can be streamed online for free from noon to 10 p.m.
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