If you turned on 91.5 KUNV-FM at 10:20 a.m. on July 27, you heard a cover of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by saxophonist Dave Koz—a tune indicative of the smooth jazz typically broadcast on UNLV’s radio station at that time. If you tuned in exactly 12 hours later, however, you heard “Brill Bruisers” by indie stalwarts The New Pornographers, which is neither smooth jazz nor the station’s traditional weeknight fare.
Two months ago, KUNV quietly swapped out its Monday-Friday nighttime smooth-jazz programming for a six-hour, student-curated show called The Nightshift, divided into two-hour blocks of indie rock, underground hip-hop (including Friday-night institution Word Up) and non-commercial electronic dance music. This complements The Rebel, KUNV’s college radio-style HD radio/online station, and the also left-of-center (and recently retooled) Saturday-Sunday programming, which includes Neon Reverb, formerly the sole indie/punk content on KUNV proper.
So why are students now granted so much more access to KUNV, especially when CSUN—UNLV’s student government—doesn’t even fund the station? Credit UNLV brass. “The University has considered the value of the radio stations and it’s one area we can provide more service to students,” says KUNV general manager Frank Mueller.
While Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies students had been running The Rebel offshoot for five years and working with professional staff to some degree on KUNV’s main station, it wasn’t enough. “Some say they love what they have, but they’d love to have more,” Mueller says. “With the additional programming, it allows us to satisfy them.” He adds that students will have an even bigger role when the fall semester begins, thanks to new broadcasting courses and opportunities to produce and beef up KUNV’s news content.
They’re not the only ones who benefit, of course, as the entire student body now gains programming more relevant to its tastes, and the Valley’s underserved terrestrial radio listeners can hear music beyond commercial formats.
Mueller notes that the new student-friendly schedule is only somewhat like the Rock Avenue era during the ’80s and ’90s, when indie/underground music also dominated KUNV’s evening airwaves. “The learning opportunities and the integration of what [students are] doing on the air, and what the school of journalism is doing to prepare them for professional career advancement, go beyond the traditional idea of a college station where they hang out and have a good time,” Mueller says. “We want them to feel enriched.”