CMM 10: Jennifer Waits, College Radio Blogger & Advocate

CMM 10 is a spotlighting of the 10 individuals who have mattered most to college media over the past academic year.  This inaugural edition honors a mix of standout student journalists, innovative student media entrepreneurs, and impassioned outside advocates of campus press 2.0.  With a hat tip to the annual Time 100, the posts announcing each honoree include a few words of adoration penned by a close friend or colleague.  Next up…

Jennifer Waits

Founder & Overseer, Spinning Indie college radio blog

During a recent interview Jennifer Waits conducted, a fellow DJ told her, “It’s an addiction. I have to DJ. . . . When you’re DJing to FM airwaves, you’re DJing into space. There’s no feeling like it.”  Waits has been personally hooked on this feeling for more than 24 years– serving as a DJ at four different college radio stations, including WHRC during her undergraduate days at Haverford College and KFJC (operated by Foothill College in California) since 1999.

“I love music and for me the easiest way to stay in touch with new music and old, undiscovered music is by staying involved in college radio,” she said. “KFJC owns tens of thousands of records and CDs and there’s always something amazing to be learned from searching through their vast record library and from tapping into the collective knowledge of fellow DJs. I love crafting a radio show from week to week and weaving together pieces of music in order to share sounds with listeners.”

Off the air, she is committed to “spreading the gospel of college radio” like no one else on earth.  She freelances about it prolifically and is the founder and one-woman tour de force behind Spinning Indie, the world’s most influential college radio blog.

As an adamant “evangelist for radio’s ongoing relevance,” she is determined to specifically spotlight college radio culture- its independence, eclecticism, and celebration of a unique musical feast you will not find anywhere else on the dial. “To me, college radio is the best source for underground, experimental music that doesn’t make it into the rotation of commercial radio stations,” she said.  “I like the mix of genres too- from sound collage to folk music from the 1920s to Turkish psychedelia to modern classical and chamber pop. You never know what to expect when you tune into a college radio station and that’s what makes college radio so magical.”

My favorite portions of SI: a field trip series documenting her visits to college radio stations across the U.S. and a separate virtual tour highlighting student stations “that might be a bit below the radar.”  Ultimately, Waits does not earn money for her blogging or DJing.  In fact, she is the one paying.  She finances the station trips out of her own pocket and also pays tuition at Foothill, since only registered students can work with the station.  In her words, simply, “It’s a labor of love.”

“An Invaluable Asset to College Radio”

By Paul Riismandel

Jennifer Waits is the strongest and smartest voice reporting on and advocating for college radio today. With a deep knowledge of the history of this unique medium, combined with a keen sense of its role in our media environment, Jennifer shares the fruits of her research and passion  at and her own blog, Spinning Indie. Not content to just write about college radio, she puts her conviction to work by visiting stations and networking with their staffs, becoming a catalyst for the exchange of information and ideas amongst this often atomized community. Jennifer is an invaluable asset to college radio (and she does her own show, too).

Riismandel is *the* mediageek.

Other CMM 10 honorees:


Karla Bowsher, University Press

Ryan Dunn & Dave Hendricks, College News Network

Adam Goldstein, Student Press Law Center

Windsor Hanger, Stephanie Kaplan & Annie Wang, Her Campus

Davis Shaver, Onward State

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