One lovely Sunday afternoon, WRUR listeners were patiently waiting for a 4 p.m. Classical music show called “Classical Music with a Twist.” When 4 p.m. finally rolled around, there was silence. There wasn’t any rock music, any classical music show and certainly nothing in the form of musical sound. What happened?
Despite all the so-called positive changes that have been made to WRUR over the past year or so, many problems remain. A student-run radio station needs to have students on the executive board who are responsible, rules that will allow students to benefit and learn from the radio station and a commitment to use radio as an educational tool for its listeners. WRUR has failed on these accounts.
Being involved in running a radio station is a huge commitment. It includes being responsible for something that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also includes careful scheduling, maintenance of equipment, abiding of on-air procedures outlined by the Federal Communications Commission and a careful relationship with the public.
So far, WRUR board members have already shown a lack of responsibility on a number of these commitments. One specific problem deals with the key cards, which are the only way for DJs to access the studio. There is one door with a key card entrance into the station – there are technically two doors, but one is broken.
This is the only possible way for any board member or DJ to enter. Key cards can often lose their magnetic properties and will not work. When this happens, how does one get into the station? What if the programmed material is scheduled to stop, and there is not an emergency way to enter the station? Then there is dead air, a violation of FCC regulations.
Also, this key card entrance has been known to be unreliable with the cards. There are times when DJs must stand outside the door and try their key card for 10 minutes before the reader is able to read the card and let the DJ in. Sometimes, this is 10 minutes too late.
WRUR board members have been negligent in careful scheduling. Mostly, this just takes an honest effort to keep communication open between the programming manager and the DJs.
Maintenance of equipment has also been a problem at WRUR. For weeks on end, one of the three CD players was broken, and even though a maintenance form had been filled out, it took weeks to be fixed. Showing a lack of understanding with the use of the studio equipment, there was a note to DJs written by a board member reprimanding them for the poor use of the equipment. Whoever wrote that is not aware of the wear and tear involved when about 20 people per week use the same equipment, and the fact that DJs both want and need working equipment.
Furthermore, two beautiful turntables were purchased for DJs to use almost a whole school year ago. For the whole year, this equipment has not been set up and has not been used. Board members say that some records are below the sound quality requirements by the FCC, but have yet to find a way around this problem. However, WRUR’s library is full of terrific records that beg to be played, and many of the community DJs’ libraries are mostly comprised of records, limiting their selections.
The board members have also made it difficult for the public to be involved and supportive of WRUR.
Advertising costs for companies that would like to underwrite certain shows are enormously high, higher than many college radio stations.
Although underwriting is something that has only been available recently and is still in its beginning stages, WRUR should do all it can to encourage community involvement and support.
Over the past year, WRUR has rewritten its DJ policies. “Consistent programming” has been one of their major new ideas. Though any radio station should try its best to offer their listeners a reliable schedule to provide a set time for enjoyed shows and music, WRUR is first and foremost a college radio station.
This means that college kids will have schedules that change per semester. WRUR wants student DJs who can commit to a time slot for an entire year.
In addition, WRUR has moved their community DJs to the weekends and scheduled student DJs and previously recorded shows during the week. Most students will have an easier time committing to a yearly time slot on a weekend and not during this week. This policy discourages students from taking the opportunity of participation in their college radio station.
Lastly, WRUR has implemented a new rule for DJs, stating that they cannot do any on-air advertising. This rule is meant to make sure that some companies and organizations in Rochester do not get free advertising, while others must pay to underwrite shows.
However, in the case of Ruth Elaine, a WRUR community DJ, mentioning an upcoming jazz festival would have been related and would have given her listeners a way to expand the education they received by hearing jazz records. After all, WRUR is an educational radio station. She was told that she couldn’t mention the upcoming Rochester International Jazz Festival in her show, even when she played a record from an artist who will be performing at the festival.
Though WRUR has been successful in the purchase of brand new equipment, upholding many of the FCC regulations that had been broken in the past – such as the use of indecent language use on air – and cleaning and organizing the studio, there is still much work to be done.
Reguero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.