Wondering who will be the next big thing in music? You might just see it on campus cable channel 93. MtvU, the first TV station catered specifically to the music tastes of college students, is entering its second semester broadcasting at GW.
The all-music station follows trends across campuses nationwide using campus radio play lists and an abundance of listener polls. MtvU prides itself on its ability to explore fresh talent and ideas. For listeners this means that some programming comes from independent label artists.
Big winners at the station’s first annual Woodie Awards included Modest Mouse, Coheed and Cambria and The Killers, acts that just recently broke into the mainstream and joined the ranks of the six major labels. Winners took home wooden statues designed and handcrafted by students, awarded solely through online and toll-free call-in polls.
As for the other nominees, many of whom have yet to reach commercial success, Ross Martin predicts, “They will.” Martin, the station’s vice president of programming, said that because mtvU is a network affiliate of MTV and VH1, they can “take an artist and blow them up,” he said, citing Franz Ferdinand as an example.
Martin described the college demographic as the most passionate and diverse, responsible for shaping the country’s music trends. But despite this influence, Martin said that before mtvU, college audiences were “underserved,” because MTV is geared more toward youth and VH1 towards older listeners.
“It’s nice to see something different,” said freshman Jarryd Pommerford, who added that he often left mtvU playing in his dorm. “I don’t think that many people watch it, but then again I don’t think that many people watch TV.”
Pommerford described himself as an avid music listener, saying, “What’s on MTV is pretty predictable. (MtvU has) a pretty fair mix of genres and a lot less pop culture.”
After a year on the air, mtvU broadcasts to more than 700 universities nationwide and is supported entirely by ad revenue. At each university, the station supports installation, service and additional televisions upon request. Major advertisers include Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Sony Pictures and the Coca-Cola Corporation.
Junior Tyler Coffey said he brought the service to GW after seeing it at a National Association for Campus Activities conference. The Program Board endorsed the venture, however it was more of an independent project led by Coffey and fellow PB chair Eric Weigand.
“It seemed a lot less commercial than MTV,” said Coffey, who cited increased involvement with contests and social activism as additional benefits in the University’s indefinite contract with mtvU. The station performs humanitarian efforts and scouts young talent across artistic mediums, offering professional opportunities to the best college bands, filmmakers and cartoonists.
“MtvU is meant to be a national platform for the expression and creativity of college students,” Martin said.
The station made national headlines when it recruited Marilyn Manson, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, John Kerry and other notable figures to surprise unsuspecting students with substitute teaching sessions. Martin said, “We would love to do (a Teach In session) with GW, but since we work with the professors, it’s always a surprise for students.”