It seems a bit ironic that I, general manager of KCSB – the on-campus radio station here at UCSB – do not listen to the radio much. Then again, with corporations and media behemoths such as Clear Channel Communication controlling an ever-growing share of media outlets, where on the dial can I turn?

Enter KCSB 91.9 FM, a valuable, local alternative resource for student and community radio. It’s also a station you can join, not just as a listener, but also as an active participant.

It’s a bad sign when a radio station’s playlist is arranged with big words such as “demographic” and “focus group” in mind. Most music on commercial radio is just that – a commercial for the music industry to sell music and other products to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, these songs that are played on the radio today are marketed to the public with the expectation that they will be profitable. This mentality silences those artists who go against the grain, who create innovative, challenging and unique music.

KCSB’s attitude is different. With our wide range of musical genres – from hip hop to rock, from blues to jazz, from eclectic to world – it’s clear that we care about music, not profit. And, as the audiophiles that many of us are, it is a rare level of creative freedom to be given the opportunity to play the music that genuinely interests us.

More than just music, we value ourselves as a campus and community resource. Students and the community produce our news programming, focusing on local issues that sometimes go unreported by the mainstream media. Our sports department is a premium source for all Gaucho athletics, including exclusive live coverage of the men’s soccer team’s memorable championship run. From sponsoring university and community events to giving a voice to underrepresented groups, KCSB operates with the Santa Barbara and UCSB communities in mind. We provide a rare, hands-on opportunity to learn about media and broadcasting at a campus that lacks such a curriculum.

KCSB is a diverse community, one of the most unique and vital organizations I’ve had the privilege of joining. Yet, despite our various backgrounds and histories, we all have something in common: participating in a medium that gives us artistic independence and intellectual freedom.

So if you’d like to learn how to become part of this vibrant community, then join us at our winter orientation meeting. There is no need for prior experience; most people don’t have any. It will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. at Phelps Hall, Room 1260. Feel free to also visit us during our music sale next Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., near the Arbor in front of Davidson Library. Feel free to ask questions, and bring your post-holiday money: You can buy CDs, books and our tragically hip KCSB T-shirt.

We may be trying to promote our radio station, but we’re also out to make a fashion statement.