Tuesday, October 5, 2010

50. Burr Beard Has Resigned from WTJU

A letter the WTJU-all listserv received an hour ago.

To all members of the WTJU community,

We write to let you know that Burr has resigned. His decision was a great disappointment to us and we tried hard to convince him to reconsider, but in the end the tug of family concerns, quite understandably, trumped everything.

We also write to assure you of several things. First, the station will continue to operate with Rob, Jane and Gayle as the management team while we consult with University administration about next steps, including the hiring of a replacement for Burr. During this time, Rob, Jane and Gayle will be responsible for all of the station's operations. We are looking into the hiring of temp employees to assist them with specific tasks. And with the help of engineer Alan Williams, WTJU will continue to meet its FCC obligations.

Second, the Jazz-tober fund-raising marathon will go on as scheduled Oct. 11-17. With Burr's departure, some details were left unresolved, but the jazz directors and staff are confident that, if everyone pulls together, it will be a success. So, if you have time to contribute, as a pitch partner or phone answerer, let Rob, Jane and Gayle know. More will be coming about this from the music directors.

Finally, we hope to see a continuation of the energy, events and important changes that started during Burr's tenure. A few of those include the launch of the new website; recruitment of many new student volunteers at fall activities fair; a back-to-school barbecue and station tours for Lambeth students that resulted in volunteer applications; a welcome-back concert for students at the Amphitheatre; and a host of sponsored and partnership events that have reenergized everyone who works at WTJU.

Thanks to all for your work on behalf of WTJU. We will keep you posted about developments as they happen.

Carol Wood & Marian Anderfuren

I have no idea what's going on with Burr's family; I certainly hope that no-one is in any danger and that things resolve for him.

Of course, this now leaves us in a similar spot to this summer. The Office of Public Affairs says they want to continue building on all the momentum we have accrued over the last couple of months; I believe them. Of course, I'm gonna trust in God but tie up my camel, but what are you gonna do?

Now is the time to stay closer than ever to WTJU. The Office of Public Affairs, to be blunt, is having a couple of months I wouldn't wish on anyone. First, there was the PR cockup around WTJU. Then, the real blow: the suicide of Kevin Morrissey and suspension of publication over at the VQR. There has also been a recent crime spree around Grounds, and the question of whether students were warned in time or not.

All of this should place the problems at WTJU in some perspective for us - no-one has died, and no-one is grieving. We should be thankful, and save a prayer or supportive thought for the Beards. But again, to be blunt, the very fact that no-one is in mortal peril at WTJU relegates us to OPA's back burner, which means they need our help more than ever. Without our help, WTJU is going to get half-assed to death, and not because Carol Wood, Marian Anderfuren and the OPA don't care, but because they simply don't have time to deal with us in the fashion we deserve.

Hopefully, looking for the next GM, we can have greater involvement by the DJ community and our alumni. We re-energized over the summer, and it was great to see. I know that I stepped back over the last couple of months; it's time to get back in. Hiring a GM who understands our very unique position (freeform programming by experts in a challenging market) and our not so unique challenges for the future (establishing a presence on the web and ensuring that WTJU can continue as musical and informational curators in what is rapidly becoming a post-live broadcast terrain) is going to be just as crucial as it was last time when we hired Burr Beard. This time, however, I truly believe that we are all on the same page: staff, volunteers, alumni, listeners, University... the entire community. This is exciting.

Stay tuned. I will bring you news as soon as I can. If you have information that I haven't posted yet which you think is relevant, please send it to me at smilin.tyler@gmail.com.

Oh, and the best way to make your presence known right now? The same way as always: with your wallets. The Jazz Marathon is coming up, starting Friday. Donate. And with your donation, send a message. Tell them that you want to be involved. Tell them that you have expectations for the next GM, and say what those expectations are. Carol Wood was discussing, at one point, a $2 per day donation (the two dollar bill is the Jefferson bill, natch). That's a $520 donation. Think about it. Wouldn't it be great to show OPA and the new president of UVA how important WTJU is to the community by having a record-breaking fundraiser? I know that Radio IQ is just wrapping up their fundraiser, and we share a great portion of our listenership. If you donated to them, I can understand that. They fill many needs WTJU doesn't. But if you could dig extra deep for us, I know a lot of people who would be really appreciative.

Alright. As the roadie said, let's carve this turkey.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

49. A Letter from Antoinette Roades to Carol Wood et al.

This letter was sent before the Town Hall meeting. Ms. Roades' credentials are, frankly, eye-popping; her opinions should be considered by everyone.

To: Carol Wood, U.Va. Assistant Vice-President for Public Affairs
Marian Anderfuren, U.Va. Director of Media Relations
From: Antoinette W. Roades
Date: 9 July 2010
Re: Future of WTJU

Please accept this as a comment on the future of WTJU. As preface, I would note that I have some experience with both the issues and practical matters involved.


I have been listening to WTJU off and on for 50 years - on whenever I lived here in my hometown, off whenever I lived elsewhere. I began listening at 13. The station played a large part in building my enduring interest in both music and broadcasting. As a student at Barnard College, I joined WKCR FM at Columbia University. There, in 1967-68, I was part of a news staff -- along with future NPR anchor Robert Siegel and future ABC medical correspondent Peter Salgo -- honored by the Writers Guild of America for coverage of "Crisis at Columbia."

In the four decades since, my resume has included stints as an editorial assistant at Broadcasting Magazine/The Businessweekly of Radio and Television, assistant radio promotion director at WMAL/Evening Star Broadcasting, office manager and sometime producer for the Australian Broadcasting Commission's Washington News Bureau, administrative assistant and studio schedule manager for CBS Television's Washington Bureau, operations manager of CBS Television's Washington bureau for its five owned-and-operated stations across the country (a job I held during the hectic Watergate period), member of a team charged with developing a prototype for a daily local television news program at Northern Virginia Community College, press secretary of the 1976 Democratic National, member of the U.S. House of Representatives Radio and Television Correspondents Gallery, on-site anchor for live broadcasts of Richmond City Council meetings on WCVW (sister station of Richmond's WCVE Public Television), Charlottesville-Albemarle correspondent for WVTF Public Radio, and regular commentator on NPR's "Performance Today."

In addition, I have some familiarity with the University of Virginia. Besides growing up in its shadow and working summers in several of its departments, I have covered it regularly as a state correspondent for The Richmond News Leader and as local correspondent for WVTF, and also on occasion for such publications as Preservation News (of the National Trust for Historic Preservation). I have also written for U.Va. publications including Alumni News, Virginia Law School Report, Helix, and The Virginia Advocate (the bulletin of the project for the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution). And I have taught non-fiction writing in the English Department, the School of Continuing Education, and the Curry School's Young Writers Workshop.

So I take interest in WTJU not just as a local citizen, long time listener, and donor, but as someone who has had sufficient inside experience of both broadcasting and U.Va. to understand the station's assets and liabilities, the challenges it now faces, and the options that it may or may not have at this crossroads.


As has been revealed over the last few weeks of public conversation on this subject, U.Va. had ample opportunity at many points in the past to pursue a different course with its broadcast capability and its prominence both academically and geographically. In response, the University chose to let pass all such opportunity. That response allowed radio stations based at Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and in Richmond (where what became WCVE radio began as the station of Union Theological Seminary) to grow into dominant presences that today reach the majority of Virginia's population while also absorbing the lion's share of listener support in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and surrounding counties. That response further allowed aspects of U.Va.'s public face and prestige to be appropriated by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities via programs like "Backstory" and "With Good Reason."

So instead of growing and changing as it could have, WTJU became a function of the extraordinary amalgam of individuals that have given it the distinct character and distinctive relationship with the community that it has today. I love some of that distinct character. I dislike some of it, too. But I applaud all of the relationship with the community. And I am in awe of not just the continuity but of the consistent quality supplied to it by unpaid people with demanding day jobs and other weighty responsibilities.

Would block programming make for a better product? Probably. Would requiring every host to create a show at least once a week rather than less frequently help? No. It would serve only to run off most of the volunteers. Would dictated playlists be an improvement? Absolutely not. They would destroy a prime element of the station's value to its listeners.

Like it or not, through both general indifference and specific defaults over many years, U.Va. has ceded WTJU to volunteers who have never been indifferent and never defaulted. The University owns the frequency and the real estate. It does not own the voice or the identity. Can it legally pull the plug? Of course. Can it do that with moral impunity and/or without a public relations debacle? Not a chance. Could it continue WTJU staffed primarily with students? Given what I know of today's undergraduates, highly unlikely. Can it be abruptly converted into an entity that could compete head to head with WVTF, WMRA, and WCVE, not to mention WNRN and the wide array of commercial stations that saturate local air. Not unless the University is willing to invest millions of dollars to that end -- hardly likely when an overrun of a few thousand dollars is official excuse for the current crisis.

Could the existing WTJU be made to pay its way while also holding an appropriate place in local ratings. Quite possibly, but not by August and not under threat of imminent death. Only incremental change effected over reasonable time by the sustained effort of committed parties -- current volunteers, U.Va. managers, community representatives, et al. -- can do that.

The swiftness with which this situation has been visited on all stakeholders and the dire terms in which it has been cast have inflicted damage as devastating and indiscriminant to WTJU's volunteers, listeners, and supporters as recent meteorological microbursts have inflicted on the local landscape. In both cases, clean up and recovery will take time. Meanwhile, however, there is an upside to this otherwise unseemly thrash. That is, awareness of the station has been raised radically. I have no doubt that thousands of people who never before tuned in have and will. I also have no doubt that many of those first timers will become contributors -- if, that is, there are future fund drives to which they can contribute.

WTJU's current financial shortfall is not a crisis. That U.Va. is treating it as one suggests strongly that minds have already been made up and that the station's fate is already sealed. I sincerely hope that is not the case and that U.Va. will prove it is not the case by giving the station's participants and supporters at very least a full year to clean up, recover, review, reconnoiter, perhaps reinforce, perhaps reinvent. That is the ethical course. It is also the efficient course. Most importantly, it is the course that would prove that U.Va. understands that it owns a unique entity that fills a small but valuable niche. And it would further prove that U.Va. respects the people who are WTJU as well as the diverse community that truly appreciates those people and the University for making them and their myriad talents available.

Please give WTJU time.

Thank you.

Antoinette W. Roades
Charlottesville VA

48. "An Open Note from the Charlottesville of the Southwest": A Letter from Joe Gross of the Austin American-Statesman, to Carol Wood

This letter was sent before the Town Hall meeting. I post it here because the points are valid and worth considering by all in this time of consensus-building.

My name is Joe Gross, COL '96.

At U.Va., I majored in English and lived at 2 East Lawn my fourth
year. I love the school more than I ever thought possible.

I am a reporter and critic with the Austin American-Statesman, the
daily newspaper in Austin, TX. I cover culture, both popular and not
so popular. These days, my brief is mostly books, movies, television
and a smattering of music. From 2002 to 2009, I covered the Austin
music scene full-time for the American-Statesman. I have written for
Spin, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and more. I love the life I've
been able to make for myself and my family.

I owe most of that to the educational opportunity and contacts
afforded me at WTJU, where I was a DJ for most of my undergraduate
career (end of fall semester, 1992 to spring 1996) and the co-director
of the rock department for about a year.

I've never been entirely convinced that the University knows exactly
how singular, how important, WTJU is for the students who choose to
participate in it.

I want to repeat that: as it is formatted now, WTJU is as crucial to the
fabric of what creates a University of Virginia education as any
academic department or Jefferson's architecture or the honor code. The
musical education that WTJU provided across the spectrum of rock,
jazz, folk and classical was absolutely essential to my liberal arts
studies. The connections made there have been invaluable to me during
my career. I have no doubt there a a hundred DJs that can say the same

Replacing it with a format that the University has been told might
make it more “accessible” is a bit like saying you want to replace the
Rotunda with something that looks like Nassau Hall because looking
like Princeton might increase donations.

As for replacing the multi-genre format with a format that would make
it the “the Austin of the East,” well, as someone who lived in
Charlottesville as as student and has actually lived in Texas for 11
years, Austin for nine and has followed Austin music for the better
part of a decade, I submit that this is an misguided idea at best and
something less savory at worst.

Both are amazing places. In fact, I, a Virginia native was all set to
go to the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. I visited U.Va. with
a very poor attitude. I wasn't interested in what seemed like a
frattish, self-obsessed party school. I wanted something more

WTJU changed my mind (I happened to visit during a rock marathon – I
took a program home and read it until it fell apart). It was the first
place I went after my father dropped me off at my dorm and one of the
last places I left. It symbolized everything I thought a Jeffersonian
education should be – well-rounded, interdisciplinary, creative and
challenging. WTJU's programming opened door after door after door for
me and many others.

And I love Austin. Austin and Texas has a rich history of tweaking the
conventions of country and Western music from Bob Wills Western swing
through Willie Nelson's music to today. It's no wonder “Americana” or
“AAA” is a popular format in Austin – there are strong regional ties
to the music.

But they are regional ties. They are what make Austin Austin. The
intellectual diversity present at WTJU is a product of the
University's public Ivy vibe, from the punk rock shows I used to go to
in Richmond to the indie rock that was present everywhere to the
bluegrass Virginia and D.C. is famous for to the jazz I grew to adore
and the classical I grew to appreciate. You guys have an educational
diamond in your hand that happens to have a layer of coal dust on it
and everyone seems to want to replace it with cubic zirconia.

It sounds like Mr. Burr has proposed a AAA format while also being a
AAA DJ himself. This is a bit like me saying we need to replace the
English department or the law school with a department entirely
devoted to something more profitable, say, mixed martial arts, and, by
the way, I have written the text book we will be using and I have a
mean right hook.

I'll be the first to admit that WTJU has never been all that good at
marketing itself and I'm wondering how much effort has been put into a
serious capital campaign for the station. I'm not talking about on-air
fundraising, I'm talking about serious money from big donors who have
an interest in keeping aesthetic diversity on terrestrial radio. I
suspect the answer is “none.”

(Though it's a little hard not to be cynical about this when the
University's capital campaign is hitting $3 billion and the total
budget for WTJU as it is now is less than $400,000. That's a very
small amount of money over which to sacrifice an institution as unique
as the Rotunda.)

I wonder how much effort has been put into keeping the format and
establishing a vigorous, working relationship with a local club or
venue, so the station can regularly sponsor shows and get its name out
there. I suspect the answer is “none.”

I wonder if the staff was ever told by someone from University
administration "Guys, you MUST raise more money. You MUST do it or the
station is changing for good?" I suspect the answer is "no."

You guys don't have a format problem. You have a marketing problem. We
seem to be in baby with bathwater territory here.

I'm not sure what to tell you about the issue of student
participation other than to say I was a full-time, undergraduate
student the entire time I was there. I wanted to be on the staff of
WTJU the way someone would want to be on a math team or on a
newspaper. And if anything, involvement with the local community is
crucial, raising the quality of the educational experience. Most of
one's life is spent outside of college. It's not a bad idea to get
used to working with people who aren't in it.
But you get the idea.

Thank you very much for your time. If you have any questions, do not
hesitate to call me or e-mail me. I have no doubt you will make the
right decision, one in keeping with the University's traditions of

Very truly yours,

Joe Gross

47. Brandon Collins on Working to Save WTJU

One of the unsung heroes of the effort to keep the soul of WTJU intact is Brandon Collins. He got in touch with me early, offering his knowledge of activism and organization. He has been a fount of great ideas from jump. If you've got a cause (and everyone should have at least one), this is a guy you want to talk to.

He got interviewed recently by the Examiner, and there's a video. Check it for nuts and bolts. Thanks, Brandon. Also, I owe you a pack of smokes. I ain't forgot.

46. Town Hall Meeting Wrap-Up

Words cannot express how grateful I am, how grateful I still am, two days after the Town Hall meeting.

Originally, the meeting was going to take place in a room for 80. I knew that wasn't going to be big enough, so just in case I packed up the trusty PA (the one that still worked after Tony chucked it down the stairs to remove some trustafarians from our practice space) and headed to Zehmer Hall. By the time I got there, they had already moved the meeting to a much much larger room. I imagined the organizers looking at each other and one saying, we're going to need a bigger boat.

When the meeting started, there were at least 160 people there, with more arriving every minute. Just looking around, I was awestruck.

Carol Wood opened the meeting with a brief breakdown of what we were doing. She reiterated: everything is on the table, and classical music was not going to be cut. General, and well-deserved, applause. Burr Beard got up and told us about our various downward trends, and seemed still to be a little... somewhere between defensive and petulant. He maintained that his plan was a good one. It was a good plan. Burr knows his stuff. There are a lot of stations for which Burr Beard's plan would have been just the thing. Just not for WTJU, not now.

One high point of the meeting came fairly early. A group of alumni represented by Marcia Doran (DJ name: Spot), Elizabeth Hull (That Girl) and Aaron Margosis (The Eclectic Baboon) got up and talked about the efforts their WTJU Alums in Exile group had made. In the brief time they had, they had been in touch with at least 70 WTJU alumnae (alumni? alumnusseses?). And they had, in that brief time, raised 20,000 dollars for the station, with the proviso that it would be given to the station only if "the soul of the station" were maintained. (I have since been told that the three people above raised 21,000 dollars, over 10 days, on the July Fourth holiday weekend. Suck that, Capital Campaign.)

Gonna just go ahead and type that again, because I enjoy typing it: seventy alums. Three weeks. Twenty thousand dollars.

Shortly after, Adam Silverman delivered what was either a low-level conceptual prank or an unasked-for attempt to scare management. He was roundly booed, and I kind of wanted to punch him in the face for his lame attempt to freak people out or whatever, but his stunt did have one positive outcome. Carol Wood said that WTJU was not for sale. This public declaration calmed a few vague fears some had had about 91.1's frequency being sold to religious concerns.

Then people started to get up to speak. If you still needed evidence of the passion and eloquence of the community in defense of free-form programming, the whole meeting was filmed and can be seen here. The video quality is blurry and the sound isn't great (lot of non-DJs not used to talking into mics), but there's sixteen youtubes of testimonial, all of it wonderful. I think someone is looking to transcribe it. Eventually, audio of the whole meeting will be put up on the WTJU site.

The whole thing went off far far better than any one of us could have planned. The support we have gotten throughout this entire ordeal has been phenomenal. That's good... because now comes the hard part.

It is always easier to set up and rally support in opposition to something or someone. It is a clear case of us versus them, and language and actions follow accordingly. Now, management has said, in public: we would like to be part of the dialogue you have started. Now, their plan has been shelved, and the plan that the volunteers have worked out should be seen as a foundation for what is to come. Now we start building consensus, and now we start implementing the changes we have proposed. And that is going to be the hardest part.

We need you more than ever. Eventually you're going to get tired of reading that, eventually I'm going to get tired of writing that, and eventually I won't have to write it any more. We need your financial support, we need your manpower, we need your vision. We aren't going to be able to implement any of the measures that will help the station without the support of the community. Get up, get involved, get into it as the poet laureate said.

We're having a rally at Random Row Books (corner of Main and MacIntyre) this Friday from 5 until 9. There will be bands, speakers, and more bonhomie than you can shake a stick at. I would love to see you there. Bring signs, dress breezy and be ready to (gaw do I hate this usage) network with each other.

You guys... y'all saved our butts. Thanks. I know we can keep the momentum going. With the continued energy pouring in from all of y'all, we'll be able to get through anything.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

45. A Retraction; More than a Reprieve, Less Than a Victory

My post last night, written at 12:30 in the morning and under the influence of a great show by Pantherburn, was symptomatic of what Alan Greenspan would call "irrational exuberance." I mis-read some very important documents. This post, bolstered by conversations with other volunteers and concerned members of the community, will better reflect what is actually happening.

Burr Beard's plan is, in fact, off the table. But the Volunteers' Plan has not replaced it. It will be presented at the meeting along with other suggestions. In short, everything is now open to negotiation. Burr has asked to join the volunteers in creating a new plan. Nothing is going to happen immediately, and (this is key) all final decisions will still be presented by Burr Beard, Carol Wood, and Marian Anderfuren to the Board of Visitors.

This is still excellent news. Lengthening the process will allow for closer scrutiny, from the students, from the volunteers, from the administration, and from the community. Given more time, and more input from everyone, the Volunteers' Plan (or whatever plan is created) can only get better. And given more time, Burr Beard and the OPA can really see what WTJU is. They have already seen how much the community cares when the station is in a crisis. Now they can see how much y'all care about us all the time.

Something to consider, again: WTJU is not a democracy. Very few radio stations are. But the folks who have the power have seen what happens when they act rashly, and with insufficient information.

With all this in mind, then, in italics and big old type:

We still need you at the Town Hall meeting Monday the 12th at 5:00 PM. We need you more than ever.

This is more than a reprieve, but less than a "victory." It's a lot closer to the latter than the former. This is a chance for everybody to become much more involved than even before. See you tomorrow night.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

44. The Volunteers' Plan Has Been Accepted; Burr Beard's Plan is Off the Table

In short: it looks like WTJU will remain free-form. The Office of Public Affairs and Burr Beard have agreed to shelve their plan, and the plan written by the volunteers, which can be found here, has been accepted. Mr. Beard has asked to join us and come in to the open process.

I am overjoyed. I will present more news as I can.

This is not over, however. We have a long road ahead of us. We need all of you to stay with us, to keep fighting with us to make WTJU as good as we all want it to be. We are coming out of a troubled sleep, and a nightmare woke us up. Now is the time to take stock and then start working.

But for the moment... my God. I am so happy. And I am so proud to be a member of WTJU.

Friday, July 9, 2010

43. More Information on the Automation Systems

Just received a note from Burr Beard as to the nature of the automation software installed last night at WTJU. The software is called DAD and the virtual CD deck is called Presenter. Information about both can be found at the Enco site. If there's anyone out there who is familiar with the capabilities of these programs, I would love to hear from you; e-mail me at smilin.tyler@gmail.com. It very well could be that this stuff is perfectly benign; it very well could be that this stuff wouldn't allow for a fully automated station with minimal DJ input (as is found at most professional stations). I have to point out that the timing of putting this stuff in couldn't have been worse, and that he didn't tell the DJs aforehand that he was installing it. It is also perfectly possible that I'm over-reacting, but speaking personally, I probably wouldn't have if I or the other DJs had known aforehand what was going on. The pattern of doing something and then only explaining it later under pressure is getting old.

42. Burr Beard's "Open Thought, Open Mind" Letter

Hello everyone,

My end of week email will be brief!

I am impressed and heartened by the seizure of new open process by listeners and volunteer air staff. The comments from the forum are heartfelt. The announcer's proposed renewal plan is strong and a show of commitment, a labor of love.

Please understand that the process has opened my mind, and heart.

My proposal is on the back shelf. I am looking forward to working with you on our new group proposal.



41. Burr Beard Installs Automated DJ System; Some Opinions in Lieu of News

With the big post having been made, the lines being drawn, the Town Hall meeting approaching, and only minor jockeying for position left, there's not much to report. The announcers are working feverishly, creating an alternative plan that will meet the OPA's demands while keeping the soul of the station. I've seen many drafts, but they remain just that; as soon as one is finalized, I'll share it here. The drafts are impressive. They are calm, without drama, they logically address every problem that has been suggested.

Well, a dearth of things to say has never stopped me opening my mouth, so here goes again. These come from several discussions I've had with other DJs. Those opinions that are unsound are mine, and those that are sound can be attributed to them.

Burr Beard's monomaniacal belief in "roots" programming as silver bullet for WTJU's financial success overlooks one crucial fact: there is no room in Charlottesville for another formatted radio station. Charlottesville already has over 30 radio stations serving her (source: here), and Charlottesville is the 230th-largest radio market in America, behind Elmira-Corning NY and behind Winchester Va (source: here).

Burr has had some success with his silver bullet, turning three community college radio stations into more popular media presences. He has been able to increase cumulative audiences, certainly. But he has never worked with a station like WTJU before. I can't speak to what the staffs at those stations were like when he got there, but I will dare say that they were not like ours. Our staff, to be short, know what it is doing with its programming. I believe that this is the first time Burr has dealt with DJs who know what they are doing, who care. I don't think he understands that. Certainly, he seemed taken aback, confused when we didn't just sign on to his cool new idea. He was confused that we might want more than one show to say goodbye to our audiences.

Of course, Burr was ready to go with his silver bullet from jump; he was ready to go with it on July 5th. He had not modified it one iota from the 5th to last weekend's secret meeting. He is not interested in changing it. That plan is the entirety of his professional identity; his career rests on presenting it as panacea. From his attempt to syndicate an Americana Top 20 (which can be found here) to his renaming of every station he can get his hands on to "Roots W___," everything depends on people buying in to him as a guru of Americana. So how can he modify his plan? It would be a repudiation of everything he claims to be worth as a hired hand.

A 30-year professional broadcaster, Beard managed stations since 1988, including WNCW-FM (which he founded) and currently WXLV-FM a full service Americana station in market #68. Beard was part of the beginning of Triple-A and Americana in the late 80's.

Anyway, as I was saying, he was ready to go on July 5th, and isn't interested in changing his philosophy. Anyone who could present alternatives has to go. And here is where his constant stream of offensive behavior starts to make sense. It would be easiest for him to have the vast majority of DJs quit; he only needs a handful of DJs to keep the station on the air, and he is also installing an automated DJ (ostensibly so that WTJU can broadcast from 3-6AM when no-one wants to be on air... uh-huh). The less DJs are around, the less hassle it is making sure everyone plays what he wants to play. So he has gone out of his way to disgust us. Pete Marshall walked, and Emmett Boaz walked over Burr's public derision of Pete. I've come close on a number of occasions. His disregard for the feelings and intellects of the DJs and the community they serve is staggering.

With this in mind, if you support WTJU, that means you are supporting the DJs. Have you been listening to a show for a while, but you've never called? Call the DJ. Tell them. And email Burr Beard at bb3vx@virginia.edu. Tell him about that show, how often you listen to it, something you'll always remember about that show, something you did when that show was playing.

Burr is determined to drive the DJs away, so he can say, looks like they really were just whiny babies determined to have their way or nothing. That's not true at all. In this time when management is actively tearing them down, remind the DJs that you care. Burr's way doesn't work precisely because at this station, the DJs care. No amount of chart research or demographic idolatry can replace that.

PS: On last thing. It should be noted that the last station Burr managed, WXLV in Lehigh, PA, wasted very little time in repudiating his philosophy after he left:

...WXLV has embraced the “Free Form” model of radio, allowing on air talent comprised of both students and community volunteers, to play the music they enjoy and can educate the public about.

One wonders what they have to say about Burr Beard. I plan on finding out, personally. It's interesting to note that a couple of days ago, Burr Beard's own webpage, where I and many other people found out about his history, has been taken offline.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

40. "So get in some licks, and hold your head up, and soon you'll be drinking from that crystal cup."

The title of this post is from the Silver Jews' song, "Advice to the Graduate." David Berman wrote it. He was a DJ at WTJU.

Well, I told you there was something big coming down the pipe, and so there is. Here, for your perusal, is everything from the side of the management: Burr Beard's proposal for the new Roots WTJU, and his schedule ,which includes no classical programming at all. When I posted his schedule yesterday, I thought that it was a starting point, something that might be discussed. There is no room for discussion in his mind.

At this moment, Carol Wood continues to say that we need an open mind, counsels that we must leave room for compromise. At this time, I don't know if we do, when it is clear that her man Beard will not budge.

Included also is the proposal agreed upon by the four departments at WTJU. I believe that we are fair and considerate. I believe the proposals show us willing to have open minds. I believe that our proposal speaks to management as equals. I believe that our proposal is just that: a proposal. I believe that our proposal is everything that their document is not.

Finally, included is a possible schedule tweak that would give us more easily navigated "striped" programming. It is tangible evidence that we are working towards a common solution.

This is not the end. There is the Town Hall meeting; there are online petitions; there is the official forum; there is Facebook; there are personal e-mails you can make. If it is, as I believe it is, the will of a community that WTJU remain programmed by the DJs; if it is, as I believe it is, the will of the community that we continue to play classical music programs like Gamut, like Dawn's Early Light, like the Sunday Opera Matinee; if it is indeed the will of the community as I believe it is that we remain as eclectic, as truly alternative, and as yours as ever... then management must know.

We must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The current DJs, the community, and WTJU alums from literally around the world have come together in an incredibly short time. I know that Burr Beard and his superiors were amazed by the immensity and the calm logic of the
response; certainly his erratic and insensitive behavior bears witness to that. Really the only thing we haven't had an answer for is management's refusal to listen.

Here then are the documents. I am also going to be providing a list of links and addresses. Remember that we must remain civil; it would be far too easy to let management paint us as whining children or obscenity-spewing cranks.

Burr Beard's Business Plan, handed out at meeting of 7/3/10
Burr Beard's Plan for Programming on "Roots WTJU"
The Announcers' Proposal - A Draft
A Possible Tweak, proposed by the Announcers, That Would Create a "Striped" Schedule

A New On-Line Petition to Be Sent to the BOV, Robt. Sweeney, Incoming President Teresa Sullivan and Outgoing President Casteen
The Free Forum for the Community to Talk to WTJU DJs (not the UVA one)
Keep WTJU Weird on Facebook
The University WTJU Feedback Forum
WTJU alumni can join the group WTJU Alums in Exile; it requires a Google account, but those are free.

E-mail addresses

Burr Beard: bb3vx@eservices.virginia.edu
Carol Wood, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs: csw8a@virginia.edu / cwood@virginia.edu
Marian Anderfuren, Director of Media Relations: manderfuren@virginia.edu
Robert Sweeney, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Development: rds2j@virginia.edu

Remember that there is a Town Hall meeting on Monday the 12th, at Zehmer Hall. It will be at 5:30. Come early; there isn't much parking, so try to carpool. We're working on some extra material for you. Know where Burr's coming from. Know where we're coming from. Make clear, concise points. Back them up with facts. Media will be there. Anything you say might make it onto television or into papers from as far away as Washington DC, so make sure that you would be proud to see what you've said. It is possible that we won't sway management, but if we can convince the undecided that WTJU is a cultural treasure that only occurs here in Charlottesville, that will mean a lot. And if we stay calm, cool and collected, it shouldn't be hard. Telling the truth is always easier than the alternative.

No matter what happens, this entire horrible affair has reminded me why I stayed in Charlottesville after I left the University. One reason is WTJU. The other reason is the people, the town.

Keep it broadcasting from the heart,

39. Letter from Carol Wood to the WTJU Staff

Hold on, started going off half-cocked again. There's more than I thought. News as it develops, and soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

38. Burr Beard's Proposal for the New Line-Up

A meeting was held on July 3rd. I didn't know about it. In fact, the vast majority of DJs didn't know about it. Nine DJs were present; nobody is sure (least of all the DJs themselves) why they were invited. Burr asked them to keep what was discussed at the meeting secret. They, understandably, refused to do so.

I have removed the rest of the post. I violated someone's trust in posting what I did yesterday. I have been making light recently of how heedless Mr. Beard has been in his actions, and of how insensitive he has been in pursuing his vision. I acted in much the same way. I apologize, from the bottom of my soul, for doing so. I hope to make amends, now and in the future.

Tyler Magill

37. Response from Scott Shisler, AKA DJ Goldfinger, in regards to the "Open Minds" Letter

After spending a few days letting this email sink in, I've been on a low boil. I've purposely backed off from commenting, instead absorbing the excellent ideas and encouragement that have been flowing into the various forums... particularly from those outside of WTJU. Those that look to the station for their information and entertainment are the crucial element, here. They certainly aren't shy about calling during shows for clarification and comments (and makes for interesting multi-tasking in the war against Dead Air).

In Burr's personal comments in his forwarded email from WNCW, he complimented the volunteers for their "passion and work". Just as important, I believe, is our "commitment": to the Mission Statement (our Book of Rules), to UVa, to our audience, and not the least to our love of music.

I take exception to many remarks made by his colleague in the space of a short few sentences. It's all very easy to make pithy assumptions about our motivations through what has been written in the press, but assuming that our primary concern is to "protect our own turf" so that we can "play whatever we like", is more than a little insulting.
I also doubt the opinion of those who spout impenetrable Arbitron lingo when they make value judgments about whether a show is "interesting" or not. That's up to the public that tunes in. Any paid ratings service that discounts listenership outside of the confines of Charlottesville and ignores the potential of live or archival streaming sounds like wasted money, to me.

So, to investigate from whence these comments originated, I logged onto the WNCW website. A well-designed, welcoming homepage (though painfully inadequate with posted playlists). Three frequencies from which they broadcast (in NC's "Research Triangle", as well). An iPhone app.
A pared-down schedule, with big chunks of NPR (that much-loved "repetition"!), seven hours of bluegrass. An upcoming dedicated spot to showcase new music. "Eclectic" shows relegated to the weekend. Not a mention of "rock"... and no classical or jazz in the lineup. And, it takes a lot of digging to find out who actually runs the station.

Not a fair comparison.

A comment By Bill Tetzeli on the WTJU Chat and Help Forum reminded me of a declaration during the OPA/DJ meeting, how the proposed "changes" were "the last roll of the dice". I keep thinking about how many changes we could have initiated over the years with cooperation from the University. How many ideas were shot down because they supposedly wouldn't pass muster with UVa?

It took years to get the "go ahead" to launch a website (yet, we are not allowed to link to the supplemental show sites of announcers), even longer to find a way to toe the non-profit line with respect to streaming. Once up, it faced the same fate as our broadcasts: if you knew about it, already, fine. NO Promotion. Word-of-mouth only goes so far.
There are huge opportunities to widen our listenership, and our "product" is already here... that is, if more of our best DJs don't head for the exits. That exodus is an irreparable loss--show hosts who not only worked to present educational and entertaining shows, but brought in the very musicians who make the music they spin.

iPhone apps. iTunes links. Pandora. Satellite radio. Expanded signal range. Setting up individual archived streams on the website for each department (culled from our Tape Vault) so listeners can listen to their favorite genre, whenever they want, from wherever in the globe they are (Ralph Graves' idea). Investment in real promotion (which should be pursued ASAP, since WTJU is finally a topic of conversation in the media. This adversity is an opportunity, while the public might actually know who we are, now). The possibilities are only limited by our imagination... and the Glass Wall of what the University will allow.

Personally, I'd trade our palatial studios for the ratty orange carpet at Peabody Hall if it meant that WTJU would endure.

WRNR's Mike "We Will Bury You" Friend came from WTJU, it should be noted (and was an alternate on Reggae Vibrations, when I joined... an experience not to be taken lightly)... and when he left the station to start his own, he immediately went to work to widen his audience (with translators to points south), to promote, and solicit underwriters... though his "methods" look suspiciously at odds with "non-commercial" status. Still, you have to give the Devil his due: he took us on, on a shoestring, and was off-and-running, right out of the box... though his underwriting methods are extremely suspect, and the programming is ever more indistinguishable for any other "alternative" station.

If we homogenize our programming by trying to be another NPR affiliate or WNRN, He'll be laughing all the way to the bank.


Scott Shisler aka goldfinger

Friday, July 2, 2010

35. Letter from Burr Beard: 'Encouraging Open Minds'

Dear Volunteers,

Another fine week of programming this week from Dawn's Early Light as I walked in though Danza Latina as I left for home after a hectic busy week. Haven't then been for all of us lately? Your passion and work for WTJU continues to amaze me! Thank you for all you do!

To encourage thought I am sending a nice email I received from a colleague from my old station WNCW in North Carolina. She came after I left, so I never had the pleasure of meeting K. C. [name changed by editor] until now by email...

Hey, Burr.

I just read an article about all the controversy surrounding your proposed changes at WTJU. I had an overwhelming case of the "deja-vu's! It all sounded very similar to some of the stuff we went through at WNCW.

I'm writing to express my support for what you're doing. It seems the on-air staff is too concerned in defending what they think of as their own personal turf to consider that your efforts will actually make WTJU more inclusive, not less so. In my experience as Assistant PD and PD at WNCW, I found that even though the djs chafed at being "told what to play" (even though required rotation was only 5 songs per hour), when they were given free rein they actually narrowed their playlists to only songs that they personally liked. And as a result, their shows were less interesting in general and the station's overall sound was disjointed and seemed to lurch from one side of the musical landscape to another, depending who was on the air.

Mark Keefe was probably the strongest PD WNCW ever had, and he strictly enforced rotation and playlists. During his tenure, WNCW's cume grew (according to Arbitron) to about 120,000 per week and a typical fund drive brought in around $180,000 or more. In recent years, the playlist has been discarded and there is a laissez-faire approach to rotation with djs basically playing what they like. The last audience numbers I saw (about 2 years ago) were at just over 69,000 cume, and the last fund drive brought in $98,000. Of course, there are other factors at work, such as weaker economic conditions, but still I think the trend is clear.

Obviously, you know all this. I just wanted to give you a shout out and say keep the faith. I hope the college is with you, because in my experience that is key.

K. C.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

34. Article at the "Keep the Public in Public Radio" Site

Keeping the Public in Public Radio is a site with a mission (according to them) "...to inform and educate public radio listeners, to expose national programming trends taking place at their local public radio stations, and to support local listener groups in their efforts to restore listener ownership to their stations." Hopefully, we aren't going to need to "restore" anything around here. They ran an article largely in the side of the old guard and it can be found here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

33. Hey Hey Hey, We're the Main Article in C-Ville Weekly

We didn't make the cover, losing out to an excellent painting of the American flag (July 4th and all that), but we rated not only the main article but also the letter from the editor-in-chief, Cathy Harding. She seems to come out firmly in support of the old guard, saying:

As you'll see in this week's cover story, UVA brass seem to believe that if WTJU were more predictable, then it would have more listeners and get fatter donations. Could be. But if a university isn’t the place to experiment with form and taste, then what place is?

Meanwhile, the article, which was written by Andrew Cedermark, is well-written and is a great introduction to the whole situation. Find it here.

32. Excellent Article Now Up at radiosurvivor.com

The excellent (and heretofore unknown to me) community radio site radiosurvivor.com, which bills itself as "[n]ews, views, and tough love for radio" has written an even-handed and excellent article about the current situation at WTJU which can be found here. Thanks to Nick Rubin for passing along the URL.

31. UVA and WTJU Organizational Charts

I won't say there hasn't been any progress in the last couple of days. The official WTJU forum (which can be found here) is back up and running after the horrendous storm last Thursday. People are starting to use the "unofficial" forum I created to give and respond to feedback in real(er) time; that can be found here. Finally, DJs are in deep discussion, as we decide what exactly we can do. We very much want and need your input so we can make good and informed decisions, so please avail yourself of the fora above.

Finally, the meat, or seitan if you prefer: here are the WTJU organizational chart and the UVA organizational chart. The former is not so important, as WTJU is a small organization. The latter, however, is interesting. I see no reason that appeals from y'all should stop at the level of Marian Anderfuren and Carolyn Wood. They have a boss: senior vice president for development and public affairs, Robert Sweeney. And his immediate supervisor is Leonard Sandridge. And so on. They may not be being fully appraised of the situation. They may not know just how important WTJU is. They probably have not heard our voices. They should, and must, know what our positions are.

There are some fairly major things coming up. You'll find out shortly after I do.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

29. New Google Group Created by Aaron Margosis

Passing this along, for all y'all WTJU alums.
If you are a former DJ or UVa alumnus/alumna listener who would like to help develop a formal response as alumni to the proposed changes in WTJU programming, please join the WTJU In Exile Google group. Go to http://groups.google.com/group/wtju-in-exile and request membership. (Requires a Google account.)
-- Aaron Margosis, The Eclectic Baboon

28. Letter from Aaron Margosis, WTJU Alumnus, to Burr Beard et al.

Hi – I am a two-time alumnus of the University (College 1983, GEAS 1988), a nine-year veteran of WTJU (1979-88), a remote listener, and a UVA and WTJU donor, and I would like to offer my thoughts.

I loved my time working at WTJU. My closest bonds to the University remain through WTJU. WTJU reunions are more meaningful to me than my class reunions. I cut my time short at my son’s baseball tournament in Winchester to attend Chuck Taylor’s retirement party.

I grew at WTJU and I watched many other people grow. Folks would join the station as 18 year olds, interested in one narrow type of music, and within a few years they would be exploring musical paths no one ever would have believed of them. Our listeners did as well.

I know that WTJU can succeed without major formatting changes, and especially without DJs being required to play pre-selected albums or tracks. I know because we thrived with great leadership in the early and mid-1980s with music directors like Cindy Gillen and Steve Harris. They increased our visibility in the community and in the music industry. They got major and independent record labels to send us tons of music and promotional materials, even while patiently explaining to them that we didn’t tell DJs what to play. When I came to the University in 1979, no one interesting ever came to play Charlottesville. By the mid- and late-1980s, we had major independent rock and jazz artists playing Charlottesville routinely. They came because we had a radio station that loved them and played their music. They knew us by reputation. We didn’t need rotations or “currents” – if the music was good, it got airplay. That can happen again.

I’m not writing to tell you, “We have to uphold and preserve the traditions we had when I went to school.” I’m nearly 50. I pretty much stopped absorbing new sounds ages ago. But a couple of years ago, I received a flyer in the mail promoting the upcoming Rock Marathon, and I saw that I could listen online. So I listened, through tinny computer speakers, until I couldn’t stand it anymore and hooked up a computer to my stereo. After the Marathon was over, I kept listening. And I fell in love. I fell in love with the DJs, and their shows, and the music they played. They have expanded my world all over again. I often work long hours in my home office, starting with classical music in the morning, and often still listening at 3am when the DJ cuts over to the BBC. I love Soulful Situation, Lady D and DJ Law, Black Circle Revolution, and of course Professor Bebop. I especially love Tuesdays when I get to hear Rhythm And Romance, Radio Freedonia, and Ye Olde Tuesday Night Rocke Show. But let me tell you about The Hep Imp Show. Have you heard it? It’s on at 1am on Wednesday nights. Probably not a lot of people listening at that hour, and probably a lot fewer half an hour later. It is very difficult listening – it’s abstract noise, not made from normal musical instruments. I can’t say that I’ve ever liked the show; but I feel compelled to listen. I’m always stunned that someone created and captured those sounds, and published them for some audience somewhere, and Chris (the DJ) believes in it and plays it. And I feel enriched by it. Yes, this is art that appeals to a small audience, but I never would have heard those if not for WTJU. Back in the 1980s, we had Boris Starosta and The Space Cadet Music Show – kind of the Hep Imp Show of its day – completely foreign to most ears back then, but it had an audience, and the entire community was enriched by it.

Now, I feel as though a close friend is about to be killed while I watch. This doesn’t have to happen. I know we can come up with ways to improve the station that don’t require the radical changes that have been proposed and that continue to harness the tremendous passion that you’ve witnessed in the past week. I would like to help with that in any way that I can.


– Aaron

Friday, June 25, 2010

27. Erratum

Boy do I feel like a pud. I mentioned in the notes and here that Emmett Boaz was the host of Leftover Biscuits. He is, in fact, a co-host with Peter Jones, as Mssr. Jones has kindly pointed out. An error on the internet... it happens, but when it does, it is corrected immediately! It's the law.

Other errors that have been brought to my attention:

-The Constantine Donation has been recently discovered to be somewhat fraudulent, so we're recalling all the popes. We hope this doesn't mess up your Sunday.

-When I advocated that "first, we kill all the lawyers," that was a typo. I meant to type "first, we chill all the layers"... which many of you figured out, since it appeared in the middle of my Rootin' Tootin' 7-Layer Ranch TasteQuest recipe.

-I'm sorry I called for the annihilation of nature. That was a mistake.

26. Forum Created

I have created a forum to go along side this blog and the official WTJU information site (which can be found here). This should allow DJs and community members (for any purpose I can think of, if you are reading this then you are a community member) to better speak to each other in more of a"real-time" environment. Ideally, dialogue will help everyone clarify their opinions, or even sway them. The forum can be found here.

25. Notes on the Meeting of June 24

Well, several people made it out through another Storm of the Century, and thanks to all who could make it. I don't think much new was learned. We did get to hear from and meet Mr. Beard's immediate supervisors, Carolyn Wood and Marian Anderfuren. Ms. Wood, especially, held forth at some length. Mr. Beard was her hire; when he was hired, she didn't even know whether WTJU was going to remain broadcasting. In fact, much was made of that decision. I thank her for sticking her neck out.

Other than that, not much was new. We got to see the fabled Arbitron graphs, which unfortunately I can neither get nor reprint due to their copyrighted nature. We saw that listenership tended to hover around 500 people at any given time, with one notable exception being during Leftover Biscuits, when listenership spikes to 2,500. Hopefully we can get Emmett Boaz (host of LB) back on the air.

The need for consistent daytime programming was stressed. This would involve having a single primary daytime format, which would be the end of daytime as we know it. Rock as we know would be on late at night. The weekends would be programmed differently, perhaps more in order with what they are now. I pressed Mr. Beard to speak to whether the single primary daytime format would be AAA; he said it would not be. He also said that my belief that WTJU would be going up directly against WNRN and WCNR was misguided, that he never claimed that we were going up against their formats but rather going after their listeners. I see this as good news.

Danny Shea, a rock DJ and promoter/booker for the Jefferson Theater, asked Ms. Wood at one point: we've heard over and over what's wrong with WTJU. What is right? Ms. Wood said it was obvious that WTJU was doing something right or else it wouldn't be there; that WTJU was an invaluable resource, that we should build on that. Danny pressed the question: what are we doing right? Ms. Wood was unable to provide a specific response.

I have fairly detailed, and mostly intelligible, notes up here. I have not had time to edit them for clarity, nor to be honest will I. It seems that the Next Storm of the Century had a present to drop on our house: a small but spunky tornado. Everyone here is unharmed, and there is no damage to my house, but a 60-foot catawba tree has been uprooted, and a two-story shed was uprooted and moved a foot or two.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

24. Official WTJU Forum Up. I Think? Maybe? Pretty Sure.

Navigated through a couple of pages to get to this: The WTJU Forum. Apparently I was the first respondant as well. Not sure I like the language in a couple of places. For example, under "Increasing revenue" it asks, "How could twice-yearly on-air fundraisers be more effective?" Well, for one thing, I've looked at the numbers and the way they could be more effective is by going back to the old four times yearly. The language kind of shuts that option out. But as a whole, it's pretty good, if somewhat hard to find,

So here it is guys: your direct line to the powers-that-be. Use it. Be concise, be on-point, be even, be intelligent. Tell alumni. Tell anyone you think might be interested. Publicity is, right now, on the side of the old guard.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

23. Letter from Rob Sheffield, WTJU Alumnus and Critic, to Marian Anderfuren and Carolyn Wood

Rob Sheffield hosted the Description Without Place show in the 90's, and his book, Love is a Mix Tape, describes living in Charlottesville and being a DJ at WTJU during that period. The book was a New York Times bestseller. Rob Sheffield has also had his criticism published in a variety of magazines, among them Details and Rolling Stone, for which he was also a regular columnist. Rob was one of my DJ-ing idols. His show and others, such as Ground Rule Double Dutch and Frolic Diner, taught me what a wonderful responsibility to the listener DJing should be.

Dear Ms. Anderfuren, Ms. Wood, and fellow friends of WTJU,

My name is Rob Sheffield. I’ve been listening to WTJU for 21 years, ever since I started grad school in 1989. Now I listen online while I’m working, usually the afternoon rock shows, here in Brooklyn. WTJU has been the most crucial influence on my life as a music listener, my knowledge as a music journalist, my work at Rolling Stone, and everything I write. As you know, this station and its volunteers are listened to, supported, and treasured around the country. I live in New York, where there’s lots of radio--but there’s nothing like WTJU anywhere. The bond between the station and its listeners is unique. I went down a few years ago to help with the 2003 marathon and ended up marrying the rock director.

I’m writing to express my concerns over the proposed changes to the station, from my perspective as a listener. I am grateful to you for reading. I am also grateful that the University has decided last night to open these proposals to discussion and deliberation, rather than rushing them through. As they stand now, these well-intentioned proposals have potential to do long-term damage to the station as a reflection of the University’s diversity and uniqueness.

We listen to WTJU because it has roots--it’s rooted in the University, the University’s educational mission, and the University’s community. It isn’t programmed. We listen to Professor Bebop and Rhythm & Romance and Nowhere Near and Reggae Vibrations and Radio Wowsville and Broadcasting System because they’re NOT playing the same songs. We don’t really tune in for chatty personalities--we get plenty of those on commercial radio. We go to WTJU for what we can’t get elsewhere.

The diversity and uniqueness of WTJU are its strengths, rather than weaknesses--especially in 2010, when the radio market is more crowded than ever. When I want to listen to programmed radio, I have literally hundreds of options at my fingertips, from Sirius’s XMU to Charlottesville’s own WCNR, stations that do their jobs extremely well. I choose more often to listen to WTJU because its local volunteers go well beyond what is possible with programmed radio. There’s no reason to believe that WTJU could or should compete with these stations, with skimpier resources, at the expense of its own audience.

The proposed “New WTJU” seems to mean writing off the core WTJU audience, starting over from scratch, and hoping a different audience (of the same size, or greater) can be manufactured. It also means hoping this audience is ready to pledge money for what they can hear on other stations. But perhaps, in the immortal words of Edwin Starr, “there’s got to be another way,” a more practical way. And if increasing student involvement is a goal, confining rock shows to late night would seem to be a move backwards.

WTJU is a major part of the University community’s presence in the world at large. When I moved into my current apartment, my neighbor asked if I was from Charlottesville--she heard my voice in the hallway and recognized as a WTJU voice. One Friday night last fall, my burrito delivery guy asked if I was from Virginia--he recognized the Professor Bebop show coming out of my laptop. That’s what they call “brand equity,” and WTJU didn’t grow it overnight--it earned it over the years, through the sacrifice and devotion and commitment of its volunteers. It’s part of the University’s brand equity, too. It’s worth building on.

In your eloquent and informative June 21 letter, you summed up WTJU succinctly and, I think, brilliantly: “The WTJU community is passionate.” I agree, and I hope WTJU can continue to inspire that passion. I’m very grateful to the University for deciding to open the discussion, and I’m confident that discussion will help the University make the wisest decisions possible.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time and your consideration.


Rob Sheffield

GSAS M.A. '91
WTJU '89-'00

22. The Comments in The Hook

Many of you have of course already checked out the article in The Hook's online site, but check out the comments section... over 70 posts and counting!

Remember, if you want to submit something to the blog, be it testimonial or reminiscence, pro-freeform or pro-new way, please send it in to wtjuincrisis@gmail.com.

21. James Ford (WTJU Rock DJ, nailgunmedia.com) Weighs In; An Exhortation to Perfect Yourself

Not a fully neutral piece, but well-considered and largely without rancor, can be found here. James urges involvement from the community that WTJU serves, and makes some excellent points, especially in this area: if you are getting in touch with WTJU or Marian Anderfurer, it serves no-one to be rude or hysterical. We aren't the Tea Party, and if I'm going to whack someone upside the head, it's going to be some jerk on "our side" who's just looking for an excuse to cut someone's propane lines. Anyone who answers the phone at WTJU or UVA deserves to be treated with the same respect you would treat any other human being you're having a discussion with. Actually, given the average national level of discourse, let's try and speak to each other even better than we normally would.

So far, the vast majority of public opinion seems to be on the side of keeping WTJU more like it is now than was suggested by Mr. Beard and the Office of Public Affairs. I think a great deal of that has been everyone's even tone. Thanks, everyone, for not acting like wild-eyed freaks. We may have actually surprised some people who don't know anything about WTJU; these people might be checking us out. In fact, I'm sure that, with the increased publicity we've been getting, our listenership is up. Now is the time to bring your very best game on the air. Not that any of us phone it in (although I have spent large chunks of shows lying on the floor, for various reasons, from time to time), but this is a time to truly think about what you're trying to do with your radio show, and broadcast your masterpiece. We play music we love. Let's show everyone what that means, and why it's such a valuable and unique asset WTJU has that is nowhere else on the dial for hundreds of miles.

There's still no new blog up at the WTJU site. Hopefully this means that they are considering and reconsidering what to say, and not just looking for the perfect picture of a kickin' rad youth wearing an RHCP t-shirt.

Oh, and I might as well plug: if you want to say hi to me (I'd enjoy meeting any of you I haven't met yet), my band will be playing at the Twisted Branch Tea House on Saturday. I bet if you identify yourself to anyone in the audience, they will thank you heartily for being a DJ at WTJU.

20. No News: Neither Good Nor Bad, Just No News

I apologize to anyone reading this blog for information, who may have been checking here today. There isn't any news to speak of at the moment. The Folk Department had a meeting last night, and I'm waiting to see people's notes from that before I pass anything along. Other than that, an earthquake in Canada, the fear that oil is falling from the sky in Louisiana, and an absolutely heart-stopping American goal in stoppage time. We live in interesting times, to paraphrase the Chinese curse.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been getting in touch. WTJU stays with a person, because everyone who has ever been at WTJU has given of his or her heart, and that has never been more apparent in everyone's letters.

So, I don't know what's going on, past what was put given to the press last night. The promised blog going up over at the official site (wtju.net) has not as of 3:15PM EDT gone online; keep checking. One thing that I CAN announce is that I have no desire to wrap this space up when the official blog goes up. This is swiftly becoming a very useful nexus of information, and I believe that is a check keeping things honest. No matter what the outcome of all this is, I want the dialogue to be as clear and direct as possible. The last thing I or, I believe, any of us want to see is games being played on either side.

No news is not necessarily good news, but it gives us time to step back, take stock of what has happened, prepare ourselves for whatever might happen next, to perhaps look over those letters we have not sent yet and edit them, or apologize for something you might have said in the passion of the moment. I have never been more proud to be a member of WTJU than I am right now.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

19. "Christmas to End Yet Again": A Letter from Charles W. Taylor III to the WTJU Staff and Volunteers

(Charles W. Taylor III is, of course, the former General Manager of WTJU, who stepped down a couple of months ago.)

“Christmas to End” is a reference to an email sent station-wide by a volunteer when I posted my comments made during a meeting discussing changes at WTJU in the mid-2000s. As in the current situation, announcers declared the end before hearing the complete proposal. This note includes a bit of history and a warning about pre-judging a proposal before it’s actually presented for discussion. Please also note that I have NOT read Burr’s preliminary proposals and specifically didn’t want to before writing this. Whether I agree or disagree is not the issue. Please attend Thursday’s meeting with thoughtful, pertinent and succinctly prepared support or viable counter-proposals or comments.

Look for a moment at the whole and not just the parts. Please give Burr Beard your utmost attention. Listen carefully, cogitate, consider seriously and engage. Research and negotiate…but ONLY with all knowledge at hand and weigh everything carefully as if the station’s future depends on it. Please note that I support Burr's right to present his proposal for discussion because of what I know about the Division of Public Affairs investment in WTJU (attention, time, money and more) and the fact that they heeded most if not all of MY recommendations for WTJU.

A little history: In 2000, through the generosity and support of the University of Virginia, WTJU moved out of the stinky-rug basement of Peabody Hall and into a $450,000 facility upgrade at Lambeth Commons. We spent another $125,000 (that we borrowed from UVA) in equipment upgrades. In 2005 that loan was paid-off and I began meeting with groups of you to enable growth and change at WTJU to ensue in 2006 after the above reduction of financial risk.

It would include: Reducing fund drives from four to two; taking a hard look at programming; looking at the location of various programs and adjusting them just as I did in the mid-to-late 1990s; and adding more news and public affairs. The goal: continue the transformation of WTJU from the “college radio station” model to a full-fledged “community station” model.

If you search U.S. “college” or “campus” radio stations the first entry is the wiki page for “campus” radio stations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_campus_radio_stations#United_States. Please scroll down and read how the world at large views WTJU. Then next search “U.S. Community Radio Stations” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTJU. The difference in the two wiki entries for WTJU is that an “insider” wrote the “community radio” overview. A “college” or “campus” radio station focuses on freedom to do whatever you want to do on air and if listeners don’t get it, so be it. On the other hand, participants at “community” radio stations ask the question “how can I serve and ENGAGE the community including the under-served?” Please note that in the best case scenarios the CONTENT of programming may be the same whether following the “college” or “community” model. It is the care, presentation and interaction with your audience that is paramount in the latter. It is also requires an awareness of what else is being offered in your community.

Aside: the University of Virginia HAS a student “campus” station, KISS-FM (i.e. WUVA) founded 10 years before WTJU. WTJU on the other hand, though originally all-student, was intentionally envisioned by its founders as a more community-focused radio station.

If KISS-FM is the college radio station then what is WTJU? Many of you have heard me use the phrase “hybrid” and indeed there are several university and college stations around the country that consider themselves “hybrids” stations. Truth be told, a hybrid is just a baby “community radio station”. It is a more advanced waypoint on the road to adulthood.

In 1993 when I got the job at WTJU I hit the road running. It first took a few years of putting out the fires that had nearly led to the demise of WTJU in 1992. Throughout that time I continued my radio shows (“From a Whisper to a Scream” and “Uncle Chuck”) until 1997. But in 1997 I intentionally gave up all my on-air shows and switched from saying “my radio show” to “our radio station”. Was it hard? Oh, yeah. But moving the station forward was more rewarding and I wanted to devote more time to that.

WTJU’s membership in the NFCB http://www.nfcb.org/index.jsp since the late '80s and my attendance at 10 of the conferences…the last two as NFCB Board member…has helped me see the bigger picture and the importance of stations becoming more beholden to their community in order to thrive. It was that realization that led to my actions in 1997 when I changed my focus from inward to outward.

Now, around the country in both the college AND the community radio world, many, if not most, stations are going through some variant of the process that is knocking at WTJU’s front door. That’s because the majority of them…as was true of WTJU…were only able to endure about one year of downturns in financial support before they realized they had to tighten their belts and focus their programming more carefully to survive the current challenges to the economy.

WTJU is not unique in having turmoil during these transitional points in growth. For instance, the host station (KFAI, a “community” station) of the recent NFCB conference in Minneapolis was going through the same transition as WTJU literally while we were there two weeks ago.

It may come as shock to those of you saying “This change is all about MONEY!” but it COSTS MONEY to run a radio station. And as the money has dwindled over the last few years the consequent effect it’s had on equipment and other things has been noticeable. All of radio, whether commercial or noncommercial, ultimately depends upon listenership support, advertising revenue, grants or donations. Our CPB grant, which accounts for substantial support is for “service to the community,” which includes news, public affairs and related. But ultimately, intelligently-presented and entertaining local programming delivers listeners to your doorstep and they will donate to support that.

So why are stations around the country making programming changes or adjustments NOW? Because of the economic downturn of course. Those making change care about the future of community broadcasting first and foremost and realize that it may require some degree of sacrifice.

What is the typical consequence when a station cannot reinvent itself? In the last three years I’ve become aware of other stations both “college” and community that were having the plug pulled by their managing boards, overseers or owners. It continues to be regular occurrence for college/university stations in particular. I would be severely disappointed if it came to that because of an unwillingness to change in any way or form.

Some of you have asked whether I left WTJU because of my increased responsibilities to the University. That is part of the truth. When I was distracted from my duties at the station during the last three years the old tug-of-war between those at the station who want it to remain a “college radio station” and those who are ready for a community station begins anew. Anything unrelated to music suffers and comments from listeners ignored. News and public affairs shows are treated with contempt. “Do we have to do PSAs during the fund drive?” The fact that people even ask such a question illustrates how far we’ve drifted from serving the community. And alternating hosts? I can’t find evidence of that at any other station, yet it is status quo at WTJU. It is NOT good programming.

Burr has 30 years of experience just as I do…but his has the advantage of time being spent at several stations. He also has the advantage of a fresh look and is the station’s BEST BET to survive even another year. He’s coming to a station in a broadcast market that is about as competitive as it gets: you’ve got program variants of WTJU offerings upwards of eleven radio stations with WNRN and “the Corner” having the biggest impact. “Serving your audience” includes understanding the area market. Corrections or changes to programming, when done creatively and with accumulated knowledge and feedback, is the key to moving forward.

So I ask that each of you look inside yourself and ask these questions:

1. “Do I love my show or the radio station more?”

2. “Is it important to have diversity of membership reflecting the community of service (including people of color)?”

3. “Should programming serve the community or serve my own interests?”

4. “Do I want to stymie every change proposed at WTJU or participate, negotiate and propel WTJU to the next phase: great programming supplemented by greater financial support?”

When stations go through this process it is not easy and I won’t tell you otherwise. But most are astounded at how great it is to still have incredibly cool programming…not offered anywhere else…that brings in financial support for the station and doesn’t require propping up from the University.

Finally, this is NOT the University compelling you to be something. I’ll repeat what I stated at the beginning of this note:

It is a sincere attempt to assist the station to grow into its potential. Look for a moment at the whole and not just the parts. Please give Burr Beard your utmost attention. Listen carefully, cogitate, consider seriously and engage. Research and negotiate…but ONLY with all knowledge at hand and weigh everything carefully as if the station’s future depends on it. Because it DOES.

You have a fresh leader succeeding a worn-out leader. Take advantage of that and move the station into the future. Give me a chance to attend the 60th anniversary of WTJU.

Chuck Taylor

18. Letter from Burr Beard, Carol Wood and Marian Anderfurer to All

June 22, 2010

To: Volunteers, staff and friends of WTJU

From: Carol, Marian & Burr

Yesterday, we wrote to you acknowledging that, in our drive to bring change to WTJU, we sent the train too quickly down the track. Today, in response to your concerns, we write to clarify how we want to move forward.

We're re-setting the process to bring you and your ideas to the table while still not losing sight of those three key goals of increasing listenership, student involvement and revenue.

Programming stays as is for the time being. The goal will be to introduce "the new WTJU" this fall, around the time students return and in advance of a fall fundraiser.

This is your invitation to help shape WTJU.

A blog will be established on Wednesday, June 23, on which you will be able to express your thoughts about key issues facing WTJU. Watch the WTJU home page for the URL.

The all-station meeting will still be held this Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in conference rooms A&B at 400 Ray C. Hunt Drive in the Fontaine Research Park. In addition, a town hall meeting for anyone, including members of the community, will be held on July 23, location to be determined. Again, watch the home page.

The blog will remain open until July 23, with a target launch date of "the new WTJU" on Aug. 23. Any business plan will be delayed pending the outcome of this process.

As we said yesterday, the WTJU community is passionate and we want to draw on that passion.

Finally, please take a moment to read the letter below from "Uncle Chuck," who weighs in on the prospect of change at WTJU.

Thanks, all.

17. Response from Burr Beard to the Proposals Made by the Rock Department

The proposals can be found here, in post 15.

Hi Colin,

Here are my responses to the points below.

1. There will be no further program time modification. The rock hours are 10-3am weeknights and weekends 11-3am.

2. Albums will be the basis for rotation, not songs.

3. Strong pairing of DJs can host single shows

Thanks to all the rock DJs – I think we had a positive, heartfelt, though sometimes heated, meeting!


16. Message from Mark Mayo Sawicki to the WTJU Rock List

For what it’s worth, here are my impressions of the situation and the message sent at the Rock Department meeting. This is not meant to offend anyone, just be a realistic take away.

1. WTJU has not been run very well as a station. You can make the arguments for why this is (some of which may be valid), but the fact is we do not have ownership of the station (it is owned by UVA) and our opinions/suggestions which have not been implemented in the past by previous management will most likely not be implemented in the future, hence the hiring of Burr Beard by UVA to set a vision and goal for the future of the station. Can suggestions be voiced? Absolutely, but I think it is naive to believe that you are somehow going to stop these changes from being implemented.

2. Some people have made Burr Beard the focus of their discontent. I do think Burr is being the strong arm of UVA, but it is UVA which is insisting on the change and which have worked behind closed doors. If anything it is the university (or more specifically OPA) that should be the focus of your frustrations. The mission statement of the station is changing with the new management, new programming and new goals. Burr is just the tool the university is using to achieve their goals, which you can rightfully infer is to make money and ultimately use the station as a platform for marketing themselves to a wider audience. It’s nice and idealistic to believe that all of us don’t have a price which we sellout and still find ourselves morally acceptable, but the fact is we do. Are you really willing to make a personal judgment on Burr without looking at yourselves as well? It’s a double edged sword; my guess is a lot of TJU-ers either get a paycheck from UVA or use the academic reputation of UVA to move forward in life.

3. Since the vision and goals are changing, the staff is expendable, the shows are expendable and the audience is expendable. With the change some staff/shows will be lost (due to personal decisions and programming decisions), but other staff/shows will be brought in to the new vision. With the change some listenership will be lost, but other listenership will gained. It is elitist and obtuse to think that you are not expendable just because of your tenure at the station. WTJU will not be the station it has been for the past 50 years; yes it is unfortunate but necessary to achieve UVA’s ultimate intent.

Obviously lots of us (including myself) disagree with some aspects of the new vision, its’ implementation and goals, but as I said we do not own the station. It is not our decision that these changes be implemented; we are being afforded the opportunity to voice some recommendations and still have an outlet for our artistic expression. I am not saying that this doesn't deserve some push back, just that we need to be realistic of our role in the new WTJU organization.

Let's be reasoned and productive in our conversations.

-Mark (Brother Jimmy "The Truth")

Monday, June 21, 2010

15. An Outline of Points Discussed Tonight at the Meeting Between Burr Beard and the Rock Department

(These were compiled by Rock Director Colin Powell and sent to the WTJU mailing list.)

Hi Burr,
Thanks for coming out and talking with us tonight; I appreciate your willingness to discuss Rock Department issues with us on such short notice. Per your request, I'm summarizing here the changes that we propose to your current plan for rock programming.

1. Modify the proposed schedule -Give Jazz another hour, move the 8-10pm specialty shows back to the afternoon, where their (quite dedicated) listenership is more established.

-This gives rock the opportunity to run three full shows (9p to 3a), and Jazz the opportunity to run two. Will probably provide quite a bit of goodwill from both departments.

-Our proposal also provides consistency – only two departments will be working past 5pm. Results in a much cleaner, easier-to-understand evening schedule (jazz in the evenings 5-9, rock at night 9-3).

2. Modify the proposed rotation - albums should be the basis for rotation, not songs. We are much more willing to work for a system in which a group of albums are rotated, not specific songs.

-This provides a sense of repetition and consistency within our programming without removing a DJ's sense of choice.

-Consistency builds itself organically– we naturally seek out specific tracks of our favorite records.

3. Keep alternate DJs

-we can work on better pairings, if this is the problem. most pairings are very consistent, and we can make sure that all of them work very well.

-DJs will be required to record promos together, mention each others shows, and adhere to rotation – DJ alternates keep track of what the other is playing.

-alternating is convenient, liked by volunteers, gives more chances to participate.

-more open time slots attract more potential DJs.

this appeals to:

student DJs with volatile / uncertain schedules.

out of town DJs who must travel long distances to do their shows.

DJs with full-time jobs that can't commit to a two hour block of music every week.

14. A Message from Burr Beard to WTJU Speaking to the Need for Celerity

I appreciate all the civil, coherent and thoughtful ideas put forth online today.

[name of recipient removed]

The need to move quickly on the proposed program changes is necessary to build interest and audience for a fall fund drive. The summer is a perfect time for such change, the new programming and older programming in new time slots will have time to work out the kinks and grow strong before students return in the fall, venues get busier with live music and everyone feels the renewal of the fall season. That's why public radio fund drives occur in the fall and why the year's most succesful fund-drives happen then. 90 days would put us right at fund-drive time to launch what probably would never happen. Forgive me for my candor, but change, major enough to meet the goals of the university, probably would not happen in 180 days with a committee of over 150 well meaning, invested and good people such as yourselves.

13. A Wonderful Quote from A Person Of Some Local Interest

The source material for our music had more to do with going to the University of Virginia. That was when I got into Can and the Clean and the Velvet Underground. Before that, I just liked dumb teenage punk. I thought Social Distortion was high art.
-Stephen Malkmus

Thanks to John Ruscher for pointing that out.

12. What AAA Radio Formatting Means

One of the terms that is starting to be bandied about is AAA. Mr. Beard, in the tonight's (6/21/10) meeting, mentioned that he had helped to create the AAA format, and wishes to use a similar template at WTJU, in all departments. While at no point did it seem like he wanted to change WTJU into pure AAA, it seems that we are headed in that direction.

The following are links to pages that describe what AAA is. Anyone interested in seeing one possible outcome of the changes going on at WTJU would do well to check them out.

Notice the "Triple A Buzz Cuts", featuring acts and songs such as Fat Freddy's Drop doing "The Raft," R.E.M.'s "Throw Those Trolls Away" and Dr. Dog.

Here, Clear Channel makes a press release announcing the appointment of a "National Adult Album Alternative Liaison/Director."

"According to MacLeash, "Clear Channel has taken the lead in not only reducing commercial spot load, but in continuing to think outside the box when it comes to launching new music formats. Clear Channel has signed on at least 5 AAA stations in the last two years and I hope to use my experience in this format to make all our AAA stations the best they can be for their respective markets. The beauty of this format is that no two are alike since each is tailor-made for local markets. I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative thinking!""

An interesting interview with Meg MacDonald, voted "
Triple A Independent Promotion Executive of the Year as voted on by Radio and Record labels at R&R."

"I think that’s why AAA (Adult Album Alternative or “Triple A” Radio) has exploded over the last ten years. AAA stations are the stations that broke Dave Matthews, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. It’s the only format in radio that is currently growing. They have more flexibility in what they play; because they’re independent. Some are commercial stations, but many are non-commercial “listener-supported” public radio stations."

Finally, one must do what all the other high-schoolers are doing and go to wikipedia.

It should be noted that in the first article above, there is a list of AAA stations. One of them is WNRN. Mr. Beard said repeatedly that we are going to be completing directly with WNRN; indeed, when I personally mentioned that doing so would be foolish, that people don't listen to WTJU to hear WNRN when they can already hear WNRN, which is so successful a radio station that it basically blankets three markets, he said that he wanted to beat them and "The Corner" at their own game. One more link: the homepage for 106.1, The Corner.