Western Michigan University’s student-run radio station WIDR received national attention at this year’s College Media Journalist Music Marathon, an annual festival held in New York City.
Joe Silver, the music director at WIDR and a rhetoric and writing studies student at WMU, received the “Rookie of the Year” award for his work with the radio station. It is the first award WIDR has won at the CMJ Music Marathon.
The CMJ Music Marathon is an annual festival that serves as a chance for college radio stations to network with one another and with music industry executives, discover new and upcoming bands and attend panels about the inner workings of radio stations across the country, according to Silver.
“For the whole week, there were eighty different venues playing shows that were CMJ sponsored,” Silver said. “The [band] showcases are usually divided by label, or by collective, or by distributor. I didn’t get to see that much music, because I was distracted meeting people and stuff.”
“Rookie of the Year” is awarded to newcomers in the college radio industry who have communicated effectively and stood out to music promoters and distributors, according to the CMJ website.
“I started here [at WIDR] in late April or May, so I’ve had these five or six months to kind of build a relationship with music promoters,” Silver said. “I kind of serve as WIDR’s PR person to the CMJ world. Part of my job is getting in contact with music distribution companies and promotion companies and I give them feedback, letting them know what we’re playing and what we’re not.”
Though WIDR had nominated Silver for the award before the festival, winning the award still came as a surprise to him.
“I didn’t even expect it,” Silver said. “I didn’t campaign at all, though some people do. I’ve just been having fun with these promoters, you know, we’re all Facebook friends and stuff. And I guess they thought of me when voting came around.”
CMJ serves more than 500 college radio stations across the country, so competition for these awards is on a national level. Nominations are made online prior to the festival and the nominations are then reduced to the best candidates.
“I was nominated against four other music directors from other stations around the country,” Silver said.
WIDR wasn’t the only Michigan college radio station that achieved acclaim, as WBDM, Michigan State University’s radio station, was nominated for radio station of the year, according to the CMJ website.
For Silver, this award is another step toward eventually working within the music and promotion industry.
“I really want to keep in contact with these promoters,” Silver said. “I think working for one of these labels or distributors is the next logical step for me, and it’s what I want to do.”