By Curt Yeomans
Clayton State University's radio station had only a six-hour play list when it hit the airwaves in April 2008. Since then, it has grown nearly six-fold to a 34-hour play list that features a mix of rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, hip hop, country and classical music.
Julia Jones, Clayton State Internet Radio's program manager, said she and other station managers would like to see the list eventually grow to be as long as 60 hours.
Although Friday was the actual anniversary of the radio station's official launch ceremony, station managers and on-air personalities celebrated the milestone a day earlier with a birthday bash in the university quad area of Clayton State's Morrow campus.
"There was a time when we were begging people to come on our station to be interviewed," Jones said. "Now people are begging us to feature them on one of our radio shows."
As the name indicates, Clayton State Internet Radio is solely an online radio station which features the university's students and alumni. When it was launched last year, students who worked at the station said they were tapping into the university's status as a wireless Internet campus.
At the time, Station General Manager Stephanie Cooper said she and the other students who worked for the station were excited about the station's Internet-radio concept because it meant Clayton State was going to be "cutting edge."
On Thursday, Assistant General Manager Martin Hardin said he and other students who were with the station during its birth did not foresee the station being where it is one year later.
"We didn't know," Hardin said. "Last April, we got our signal and started broadcasting, and we've just grown from there."
During a live remote from the birthday party Thursday, Clayton State graduate Thomas "J.Soul" Burroughs was scratching on the turntable while members of student organizations, like the university's Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter, sang and danced for nearly 100 of their classmates. The students who observed the proceedings formed a circle around the performers.
"I think it's awesome that we have this station," Kathryn Peppers, a senior from Riverdale, said as she maneuvered around other students to get a picture of the Alpha Kappa Alpha members performing their dance routine. "This helps us get our name out there, and it lets people know we're not just a little commuter campus anymore."
Mike Bass, a sophomore from Conyers who hosts an alternative rock show on Tuesday afternoons, said the station's biggest asset is that the on-air personalities have the freedom to choose what songs they want to play from the station's growing play list.
"We try to keep it non-mainstream as much as possible," Bass said. "We're all about the local artists and helping them gain some exposure."
Erica "Sweet E" Boswell, a junior from McDonough, said the mission of getting more exposure for local artists mirrors the mission of raising the station's profile. Boswell is in her second semester as disc jockey for the station. She said she mainly plays a mix of old-school and modern rhythm-and-blues songs on Monday afternoons.
"We're still trying to get our name out there," Boswell said. "That's why we're holding this event - so more people will see that we're here and then tune in."
Jones said that as she looks into Clayton State Internet Radio's future, she only sees an upswing for the station as it continues to grow, develop its personality, and raise its public profile.
"In a year from now, I see this station being one of the hottest entities on the south side of Atlanta," Jones said.
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