On to the next song…

The reason behind the 'Burg's change in sound and a look behind a new station in development.

An+88.1+The+%27Burg+DJ+mixes+in+the+studio+in+between+songs.+The+station+has+recently+changed+their+song+towards+Top-40.+Mikaela+Nickolds%2FThe+Observer
An 88.1 The 'Burg DJ mixes in the studio in between songs. The station has recently changed their song towards Top-40. Mikaela Nickolds/The Observer

An 88.1 The 'Burg DJ mixes in the studio in between songs. The station has recently changed their song towards Top-40. Mikaela Nickolds/The Observer

An 88.1 The 'Burg DJ mixes in the studio in between songs. The station has recently changed their song towards Top-40. Mikaela Nickolds/The Observer

Eric Rosane & Kejuan Coleman, News Editor and Staff Reporter

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The radio stations managers say they have some new things planned out for a very different future for the station. The ‘Burg has been mainstreaming its music—focusing on Top 40 and pop—to make it more educational for the students coming in who are interested in working for radio stations other than The ‘Burg.

“A college radio station is radically different from a professional one—both in terms of management and content—and since people were now coming to us for a chance to learn how professional radio works, we simply needed to start acting more like one,” Director of The ‘Burg 2 Rune Torgersen said.

The ‘Burg 2 was originally slated to be launched as an online, stream-only version of The ‘Burg that focused primarily on talk radio and sports when it was on the drawing boards in 2015. Launching sometime this year, ‘Burg 2, it’s placeholder name, will be the home for a broad range of rock music as well as a small portion of talk.

“That meant streamlining our music format and imaging towards something a bit more Top 40s centered,” Torgersen said.

Having a radio station that’s built around the students and community, as well as taking into account the necessary experience needed for students to succeed in the industry, has since become the new focal point for The ‘Burg.

“It’s also a very bright future to look ahead to, The ‘Burg 2,” Torgersen said. “The ‘Burg 2 is our way of preserving some of the more freedom-related aspects of college radio that The ‘Burg 1 is unable to provide in its new context.” There are going to be many different features from The ‘Burg 1 radio, Torgersen also said.

“It’ll be an online stream available on our app and on our website, and the music itself will revolve around rock as opposed to Top 40s,” Torgersen said. “It’s still in the very beginning stages of development, so check back once we have it up and running, but I can guarantee right now that it’ll be a blast to listen to.”

This comes just months after 88.1 The ‘Burg permanently hired current General Manager Jeff MacMillan back earlier this summer. Throughout those following months, MacMillan and his current staff had much to revise within both the operations and the radio station itself, opting for a more individualistic and professional approach to college radio.

This revision, according to MacMillan, aims at accomplishing two primary things; providing student employees the opportunity to work in a more professional and cohesive environment, akin to that of a real radio station, and to allow themselves to better serve the community with music that people from Thorp to Moses Lake will want to hear.

CHR and HotAC are the terms used in the radio industry for Top-40 radio and adult contemporary music. The ‘Burg’s move to host primarily those niche’s of songs is a move based around a market, according to MacMillan. Within the market that The ‘Burg is already competing in, there is already a country station, classic rock station and a urban-contemporary station operating throughout Ellensburg and Yakima. This move is an attempt to grasp onto a market that MacMillan believes is less saturated, as far as the number of stations in the industry, and is highly sought after by listeners and the public.

“Keith Champagne, Travis Box and former Dean of Student Success Sarah Swager had an idea to make a second station because The ‘Burg was bursting at the seams,” MacMillan said. “They had 125 plus volunteers at the time.”

MacMillan also said that a portion of the reason for the large change to a predominantly CHR and HotAC station was because of too much variance in shows. Within an hour, people would hear such a variety of music and content, that people would not be aware of what show they were listening to.

“When we were looking at that, we knew right away that the active rock format and the classic rock format wasn’t going to work, and it hadn’t been working. [The] ‘Burg’s numbers were down, people didn’t know what they were going to hear. There’s been points in the last two years where you can turn on over a three hour period and hear metal to hip-hop to 1980’s pop music,” MacMillan said.

On-Air Personality for the “Fitz Show” and Chief Writer of the “Hit List” Tanner Chambers attended CWU from 2014 to 2016 and was the Music Director at The ‘Burg during his time at CWU.

When Chambers heard of the changes that were underway at The ‘Burg, he was understanding and saw the strategy in the move made by MacMillan, despite having a personal connection and love for the format clock and content that he put together. Chambers also sees the opportunity of rebranding as very smart for all parties involved, despite the limitations this might pose to on-air DJs.  

“I didn’t come to CWU to be in the radio business. Because I was allowed to play and try things that would never be heard on commercial radio, I fell in love with it and it changed my life forever. I hope the students will be able to play and balance being in a professional environment. Playing is where the magic comes out and careers begin,” Chambers said.

The ‘Burg plans on refining and streamlining a new version of their yearly listener survey that will be available sometime before this spring.

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On to the next song…