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Waning interest signals end for SOU online radio

The online, streaming radio station of Southern Oregon University, KSOC, has closed down after 14 years — although if student interest picks up, it could come back to life.

The student-run station, nicknamed "Radio Free Ashland," netcast a range of campus information, interviews and music, including rock, hip-hop, electronic and reggae — and once provided the sound over Rogue Valley Community Television's bulletin channel, says J.B. Nelson, KSOC manager in its formative years.

Although the station once had a pool of more than 40 disc jockeys who created their own shows, they came and went each term, and it took considerable focus to keep it going, he says.

The station had been in an "on-and-off" status for the past couple of years, and it went offline during fall term, said Danielle Mancuso of Student Life, which oversees Stevenson Union, where the station operated.

KSOC operates like a campus club, and when it gets enough members, it can return to streaming, she says. "It has a budget, and if students want to go back in and use it, they can."

"They had a good thing going years ago, but there were personal issues, people not getting along, so interest waned," said Bonnie Mannin of Student Life.

The station started in October 1998, but SOU discontinued its broadcasting degree in 2001, says Nelson, who was in the last class to win that degree.

"I don't know if we ever really had the support of the school," he says.

The station applied in 2000 for a low-power FM broadcasting license, but that didn't come to fruition, he says.

Nelson helped design a KSOC "night club" and put on "battle of the bands" in the student union, and it joined the College Music Journal, a trade publication enabling KSOC to receive gratis CDs, post events and interview music-makers for netcast, he says.

"KSOC was my baby," Nelson says. "We created a lot of lifeblood in the school for a while. We got a lot of events and concerts going. We were a fun group. At some point, the station just lost its direction."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.