Campus radio (also known as college radio, university radio or student radio) is a type of radio station that is run by the students of a college, university or other educational institution. Programming may be exclusively by students, or may include programmers from the wider community in which the station is based. Sometimes campus stations are operated for the purpose of training professional radio personnel, sometimes with the aim of broadcasting educational programming, while other stations exist to provide an alternative to commercial or government broadcasters.
Campus radio stations are generally licensed and regulated by national governments, and so have very different characteristics from one country to the next. One commonality between many stations regardless of their physical location is a willingness — or, in some countries, even a licensing requirement — to broadcast musical selections that are not categorized as commercial hits. Because of this, campus radio has come to be associated with emerging musical trends, including genres such as punk and New Wave, alternative rock, indie rock and hip hop, long before those genres become part of the musical mainstream. Campus radio stations also often provide airplay and promotional exposure to new and emerging local artists.
Many campus radio stations carry a variety of programming including news (often local), sports (often relating to the campus), and spoken word programming as well as general music. Often the format is best described as a freeform radio format, with a lot of creativity and individualism among the disc jockeys and show hosts. A number of these stations have gained critical acclaim for their programming and are considered by the community in which they are embedded to be an essential media outlet.
Although the term campus radio implies full-power AM or FM transmission over the air, many stations experiment with low-power broadcasting, closed circuit or carrier current systems, often to on-campus listeners only. Some stations are distributed through the cable television network on cable FM or the second audio program of a TV station. Some universities and colleges broadcast one or more Internet radio feeds — either instead of, or in addition to a campus radio station — which may differ in format significantly from licensed traditional campus radio.