Though Clear Channel Broadcasting is often blamed for the homogenization of radio, iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's Internet radio platform, could help to preserve the artform. At least, that's what Corey Mizell — DJ ChaChee on University of Pittsburgh's college radio station, WPTS — hopes to see.
WPTS became a member of iHeartRadio last December. iHeartRadio acts as a hub for hundreds of stations around the country, as well as a music-recommendation service, and allows users to listen online, via mobile apps, and via video-game consoles. "What I hope is that [this will allow us to] be a better outlet for, basically, bringing radio back to the forefront, back to the essence of people loving music," Mizell says.
WPTS caught the attention of Clear Channel after the mtvU Woodie Awards placed it among the top college radio stations in the country. WPTS General Manager Greg Weston recalls, "It was an easy decision for us to be a part of it," not least of all because all the necessary hardware was provided for free.
While listeners could already stream WPTS at wptsradio.org, iHeartRadio has made the station more accessible. "We've been on other apps, but this one, with all the promotional support it gets from Clear Channel stations around the country, [is] very high-profile," Weston says. Since WPTS is currently one of about 25 college stations available to stream on iHeartRadio, he says, "it's a place where real college-radio junkies can go and find us without having to seek out our own stream." And, he says, "the fact that we're on a leading platform like that does give us a lot of credibility."
Mizell, who hosts the hip-hop show Culture Shock Radio on Friday nights, sees iHeartRadio as an opportunity to bring attention to local musicians. "When [an artist] is in contact with a radio station and they say, ‘We can play your song,' that's usually the first step. So for someone to hear, ‘I'll have my song played on iHeartRadio,' that's a big deal." And, of course, it provides a refreshing alternative to robotized Top 40 radio and impersonal Internet services like Pandora. As Mizell puts it, "We actually have that interaction with the live DJ on air. I always encourage listeners to call in, be on the air during the show, and be a part of the show."