Katherine Rye Jewell

Jan 9, 2024

Live from the Underground

A History of College Radio

University of North Carolina Press 2023

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Bands like R.E.M., U2, Public Enemy, and Nirvana found success as darlings of college radio, but the extraordinary influence of these stations and their DJs on musical culture since the 1970s was anything but inevitable. As media deregulation and political conflict over obscenity and censorship transformed the business and politics of culture, students and community DJs turned to college radio to defy the mainstream—and they ended up disrupting popular music and commercial radio in the process. In Live from the Underground: A History of College Radio (UNC Press, 2023), Katherine Rye Jewell reveals that these eclectic stations in major cities and college towns across the United States owed their collective cultural power to the politics of higher education as much as they did to upstart bohemian music scenes coast to coast.

Jewell uncovers how battles to control college radio were about more than music—they were an influential, if unexpected, front in the nation’s culture wars. These battles created unintended consequences and overlooked contributions to popular culture that students, DJs, and listeners never anticipated. More than an ode to beloved stations, this book will resonate with both music fans and observers of the politics of culture.

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Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine.
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