KSUN Radio a 2nd home for Sonoma State students
As the spring semester comes to an end and graduation approaches, students scramble to get last-minute assignments in and prepare for their final exams. It’s a stressful, exciting time for graduating seniors who have come so far – one to be enjoyed as it’s the end of our time at Sonoma State University.
As a Communication Studies major, wrapping up my senior year includes a final project or two, a quiz here and there, concluding my wonderful internship with the Argus-Courier, and my last couple of weeks as the station manager for KSUN Radio, Sonoma State University’s college radio station.
KSUN Radio began its journey with the college’s shift from “Sonoma State College” – established in 1960 – to “Sonoma State University” in 1978, when it officially gained university status. The student-run radio station has existed in many forms over the years. Beginning as a campus club operating out of the dorms where the University Police Department currently is, and eventually moving to a studio in the basement of the Ives Building, the station shifted again to an online-radio format in 2002, and has operated as such ever since.
As a transfer student coming from Santa Rosa Junior College, I didn’t get the same experience that most four-year students did. Starting my time at SSU during COVID-19 brought challenges that an in-person learning environment wouldn’t have. Interacting with peers through “Zoom University” lacked genuine connections and I yearned for a stronger sense of community.
I joined KSUN during my second semester, and after the first few weeks, we were back on campus in person. I started out as the communications manager for the station, running the department that handled community outreach, collaborations and building connections for the station.
The following semester, I moved up to general manager for the station and stayed in that role through the following spring.
During most of COVID, the station wasn’t in operation. Once students returned to campus, we had the opportunity to bring it back. This was a new challenge: With KSUN being student-run, we had to figure out what we wanted to do and what the station meant to us.
“You all have brought KSUN back to life after the pandemic,” faculty advisor Gina Baleria recently told us. “I hear a lot about how bad the pandemic was for a lot of students, and it breaks my heart, but also the opportunity came to embrace community and creativity. You all just care for the station so much. You’ve turned it into this vibrant wonderful place where you’re networking with each other, you’re connected, you’re creating really interesting, strong podcast/radio/audio shows.”
Baleria, it should be pointed out, always provides a safe and welcoming environment in her classes and in the studio. She helps students see opportunities, discover their passions and believe they can do anything they want after college.
“Everyone embraces and dives in to trying to make their vision come to life,” Baleria said. “It means everything to me.”
Students get what they put into this class, of course. We are fully responsible for the imagery and sound of the station. We produce the content we put out there, we promote the station and we collaborate with other organizations. Students learn teamwork and how to be a part of a staff. Department heads gain experience in leadership and management, learn how to run a team and play an important role as a staff member for the station.
We produce our own shows and can make them whatever we want. Whether it’s a sports show, true crime, live music performances, news or theater and voice acting, at KSUN we have the freedom for full creative expression.
We are KSUN.
“The professor really cares what you’re interested in and what you want to do with your time,” said soon-to-be Sonoma State graduate Braden Woodward. “It’s been very nice. It’s a breath of fresh air to actually have someone care. School is so stressful and this class is the only time I have to wind down and do my own thing, where the professor actually cares what you have to say and isn’t just giving you busy-work to get it done with to give you a grade.”
Another beauty of the class is that it provides endless opportunities. Students have the freedom to be creative and produce any content they want, gaining experience in different areas of media and communications such as social media, promotion, production and operation of audio equipment, developing music and news programming for the station and much more. There are no limits as long as students are respectful and aren’t using words that harm or hurt.