The Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at UNLV recently welcomed Ashton Ridley as the new general manager of KUNV Radio 91.5 Jazz & More.
Ridley previously worked at College of Southern Nevada (CSN), where he served four years as manager of multicultural affairs. Before working at CSN, Ridley spent 15 years with Las Vegas public radio station, KCEP-FM, starting as an intern while in high school. He worked in several areas at the station – everything from radio broadcasting to budget management and interim general manager.
“We’re excited about Ashton’s vision for public radio and his understanding of KUNV’s unique role as a professional public media operation and academic laboratory for student broadcasters,” said Kevin L. Stoker, director of the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.
The position brings Ridley back to UNLV, where he earned his bachelor’s degrees in both communication studies and workforce development. He also obtained a certificate in nonprofit leadership from the UNLV School of Public Policy and is currently enrolled in the school’s doctorate of public policy program.
“As a result of my experience at KCEP, I’ve always wanted to pay it forward and give back in helping students gain professional experience while in college,” Ridley said. “KUNV Radio provides opportunity to serve the community and mentor future communication professionals.”
KUNV-FM and its sister stations, Rebel HD2 and HD3, are self-supporting public media operations that offer students professional experience in audio journalism, announcing, production, marketing, research, and promotion. Rebel HD2 features student-produced music programming, special events, talk shows and sports coverage. Nearly 100 student employees, interns, and volunteers work with the school’s FM and HD stations.
“Public radio is home for me,” Ridley said. “To be able to be in public radio and in higher education takes it to the next level. While a student intern at KCEP and trainer for the Bob Bailey Internship Program for high school students, I learned the importance of hands-on training and gaining real life experience.”
Ridley takes the reins of an FM station that has more than doubled its audience and audience share in the last year. According to August Nielsen ratings, KUNV-FM ranks among the top 25 stations in the Las Vegas market with an audience of 123,300 in August and a market share of 1.4. In the past year, the audience has grown from 71,000 to more than 100,000, with market share ranging from 1.0-2.0. The station’s innovative music format, “Jazz & More,” combines familiar hits with upbeat contemporary Jazz. Weekend programming includes Pamela’s Place, Reggae Happenings, the Little Grass Shack, and the Lion’s Den.
The Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies enrolls 458 students and offers concentrations in journalism writing, audio and video production, social and digital media, sports media, integrated marketing communication and media studies.
In addition to his role with KUNV, Ridley will collaborate with the school’s other media operations, including UNLV-TV and the Rebel Media Group social media agency. As a faculty lecturer, he’ll also teach an audio class and help manage the school’s concentration in audio production.
“There’s the community connection to radio. That’s what drew me in. It’s being able to make that connection because music crosses everything and brings people together,” Ridley said. “Music can cross politics, conflict. It provides a bridge.”