During the COVID-19 pandemic, California State University Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) student-led entertainment network Otter Media was put on pause like so many other organizations and clubs at the time.
They went silent for a few years until CSUMB students Micah Stamps, Derek Rasmussen, Jacob Alfaro and Kah’maurie Norwood stepped in to become station managers and revive the student service.
As a cinematic arts major, Stamps envisioned using his creativity to impact the university’s students. Rasmussen, Alfaro and Norwood believed in that same mission and helped him rebuild Otter Media back from the ground up.
What started as a project to play their favorite music to the University simply evolved past an ordinary campus radio station. It aimed to become a network for students to unite and express themselves creatively to collaborate on student-led and run projects.
With February of 2023 marking their first anniversary since restarting Otter Media, they have been able to platform student voices by offering live shows through their radio station, the Current, via channel 74 on StreemeTV. They have produced TV shows such as “Radikitchen,” “Tales of Slaughtermedia” and “Game Show” for the Current while also throwing several concerts featuring local student artists and bands in “5th St. Festival,” “Monte Mash” and most recently the “Punk Show.”
Despite how successful they believe the Current and their events have been, Stamps and his station managers feel they must constantly prove themselves to the university.
“Last semester, we tried hard to get into a much better position,” said Stamps. “One thing that we keep running into is that we keep proving ourselves to all these different organizations and bureaucracies. One of the roadblocks we consistently run into is some of the weird rules Associated Students (AS) has implemented into how they do things.”
Otter Media relies on funding from AS to create much of the content they produce. As thankful as Stamps and his station managers are for the support, they feel that the process of getting events done at CSUMB is slow and arduous, which hinders their overall ability to create. Despite how they feel about the creative process, they acknowledge that their hard work is starting to be seen by the University.
“This semester, we’re finally seeing some of the benefits of the work we have put in. Until now, the work we have done has been entirely voluntary, with the university finally just deciding that we should probably get paid,” said Stamps. “We got approved a little bit of money to be able to spend some on some equipment, so the campus is definitely starting to invest in Otter Media.”
Stamps credits the success of Otter Media to what he believes is the most vital aspect of CSUMB, the students. Without the students, Otter Media would not be as successful as it has been, according to Stamps. He and his station managers believe that Otter Media has earned students’ trust, allowing them to make more content for the students that will help platform their voices and creative works.
“The craziest thing that happened during the Punk Show was that students were tearing the posters off the wall and keeping them for themselves because it was such a good memory. By making those memories on campus for students, Otter Media is doing the absolute right thing,” said Stamps.
He and his station managers want to champion student voices and continue giving them a platform to express themselves creatively without limitations. They want students to use Otter Media as a vessel for their work because they want the University to know that student voices matter and should be listened to.
“Student participation shows the University that they can’t make decisions without consulting students. They should have a seat at the table for major decisions CSUMB makes,” Stamps said. “It is important to have that strong student voice which we think Otter Media is helping show the entertainment side of.”