Pump up the volume: Student input should help decide choices for campus concerts

Editorial Cartoon 10.5

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: Concerts on campus, such as the annual Homecoming concert, don’t always satisfy enough students’ musical taste.

OUR STANCE: Large-scale campus concerts should feature artists who have mass appeal, and students should have more input.

College students love to be entertained. And when entertainment is offered at such an affordable rate as it has been on campus, it seems that students would get excited about it. But that’s not always the case.

Relative to universities surrounding WKU, such as Murray State University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky, WKU’s concert line-up has been sub-par. Those schools have hosted Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, Drake. UK is featuring Atlanta rapper B.o.B. and pop singer Jason Derulo this month.

Our list of past artists includes The Charlie Daniels Band, Montgomery Gentry, Jason Aldean and Day 26, with Josh Turner on deck for Homecoming 2010.

Any concert is appreciated, especially because of all the work and planning that goes into such productions. But there should be more student input for choosing the artists so the hard work doesn’t go to waste.

According to Kenneth Johnson, the assistant director of student activities, the Campus Activities Board – the group responsible for most of the concerts on campus – has a concert committee that chooses the performers. Committee members suggest artists based on sales potential, and then the leadership team votes on the final artists.

The Herald suggests that CAB get more input from the student body. Johnson said there have been surveys done in the past, but most were conducted through CAB’s website, which has been under construction. Moreover, students may not know about the CAB site to be able to complete the surveys. A direct, face-to-face approach might be more effective.

Though Johnson said CAB aims to rotate genres each year, for at least the past five years, the concerts have largely featured country musicians.

We think CAB should choose artists who reach wider audiences. Usher and Beyonce transcend genres. We’d all go goo-goo for Lady Gaga. And surely CAB would make a huge profit from a concert featuring Justin Beiber. After all, ticket sales aren’t limited to those on campus; we can bet preteens from all over the state would rush to see him.

Hosting bigger headliners would put WKU on the map for quality entertainment. We know grand productions aren’t cheap. But CAB could partner with the Student Government Association, Alumni Association or other campus organizations for funding.

Aside from Homecoming concerts, artists including Eve, Lloyd and Lupe Fiasco have performed on the Hill. But because they were less expensive, Johnson said, they were not as widely advertised as Homecoming concerts. That could be among the reasons those shows were scarcely attended.

The Herald commends CAB and other student activity planners for hosting concerts, and we know they can’t please everyone. But if they knew who students liked and realized what better headliners could do for WKU’s reputation, we think they could come pretty close.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.