Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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.
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
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-exileand request membership. (Requires a Google account.)Thanks.-- Aaron Margosis, The Eclectic Baboon
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.
Friday, June 25, 2010
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.
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
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
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.
GSAS M.A. '91
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 email@example.com.
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.
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
“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/
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.
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.
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!
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
[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.
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.
Thanks to John Ruscher for pointing that out.
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.
And maybe we cannot stop it, but at least we can go down fighting. Or emailing.
Last week station manager Burr Beard, presumably driven by either his shadowy overlords or by a malice rooted in childhood name-related trauma, announced some changes. The schedule is going to be rearranged, eliminating daytime rock and, uh, doing other stuff -- the details are not important. Also, the rock department will be creating a pool of songs to be put into rotation, requiring DJ's to draw from that pool for part of their playlist. Something like that. Again, the details are not important. What is important is that the DJ's are up in arms against this. Outraged, dismayed, heartbroken, demoralized -- our music geeks are hurting, and they need our support. Many are leaving the station, or considering it. And maybe they are being too sensitive, over-dramatic, cantankerous. Maybe some of them are senile and others immature. Prima Donnas hiding behind a microphone. Self-aggrandizing, autistic, secretly bald... one or two might live in a basement apartment with ten cats and a sex doll. Pretentious fanboys and misguided hipsters. Authenticity fetishists. Sweater people. Guys with pocket watches.
Yeah, maybe they are a just a bunch of self-important misfits.
But that is why we fucking love 'em. And even if a slim majority are relatively well-adjusted and reasonable, we don't want our radio station to be well-adjusted. We don't want it to be reasonable. We want to keep WTJU weird. Prickly. Anarchic. The one place on our radio dial where the music is played not because someone thinks we want to hear it, but just because some one actual living breathing human being wants to play it. Because I don't need to be told what I want to hear, what I need is for someone with a passion in their heart to share that passion with me and anyone else who cares to hear, through the music they play, freely over the airwaves, a gift. We need a place where such a thing is allowed to happen. A place where this chancy and unremunerative effort is respected and protected and allowed its free play. This is what WTJU has been. And this is what is being threatened now.
So the least you can do is send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Burr Beard's email is email@example.com. Maybe you should hit them both. Maybe you could even look up emails for other folks at the station to maximize impact. Tell them that you like WTJU the way it is. That you like the schedule the way it is (even if there are aspects of the new schedule that you may prefer -- its about the principle here, the schedule was not ordained by God and can be changed, but only in a process that is respectful of the DJ's and involves them and so then probably would not actually happen but so be it -- we should just say we like it the way it is). That you don't want to hear any songs in rotation -- pure freeform forever! That WTJU is a beloved institution that should not be meddled with lightly. You are concerned. You don't want to lose your favorite DJ's and their shows. You have donated to the station in the past. You don't know if you will in the future. You will kill a puppy unless Burr Beard immediately steps down and is replaced by Tyler Magill. And so on. The point is just to raise a stink, create a sense of public opinion, and to vent (but not to the point of unrespectability).
The office phone number is (434) 924-0885. Calling obviously has a bigger impact than email. It is the second step.
The third step is Direct Action. I imagine you could learn about that by listening for the coded instructions on Black Circle Revolution, or by simply getting a WTJU DJ drunk.
You should definitely keep aware and stay informed, preferably from sources more reliable and less tired than I am. Good morning and good luck to us all.
Dear Mr. Beard,
I write to you as a longtime resident of Charlottesville and central Virginia, as someone who has been an active member of the Charlottesville music and media community, as an alumnus of the University of Virginia and WTJU, and as a music journalist who now resides in Brooklyn, New York and continues to keep an eye on the greater Charlottesville community that offered me so many great things over my 23 years living there.
While living in Charlottesville and attending UVA, I started the local music website Nailgunmedia.com, which is now run by WTJU DJ James Ford and a few other volunteers and continues to be a popular destination for local music coverage. I also served as the Music Columnist and Online Editor at C-VILLE Weekly a year. During that time I had the privilege of hosting WTJU shows, first on a weekend night from 1-3am and then an afternoon show from 2-4pm.
I write this letter to you with a sense of urgency, which I think is very unfortunate. It seems that changes that you have proposed at WTJU are coming swiftly and surprisingly, and may be announced as early as this week. I know from many friends that are still actively involved with the station that many are upset about these potential changes. I recognize that changes are necessary, as fundraising and listenership has dropped and things need to be done to reinvigorate the station. You are in a terrific position to do that. But to offer such major changes under a short deadline and to leave many of WTJU’s volunteer DJs wondering exactly what is going on seems like a rash and extremely detrimental decision.
I could go into much detail about how I feel that selected and required rotations would be detrimental to the spirit of WTJU, both from the standpoint of a DJ and listener, but for now I will be brief. In New York, in addition to tuning into WTJU via the website, I listen frequently to freeform stations WFMU and Newtown Radio. Both are valuable precisely because they don’t have rotations or playlists, and I feel that WTJU is valuable for that same reason.
I would like to emphasize that, based on the information that I have received, it appears that changes are coming far too quickly and without nearly enough transparency or input, considering that WTJU is a station whose existence hinges upon the donated time and funds offered by volunteers and listeners. If not for my personal connections with people still volunteering at WTJU, I would not be aware of any proposed changes. I think such a lack of openness and involvement is disrespectful to myself and all of WTJU’s listeners. To learn that many of the station’s volunteers feel that they themselves are “in the dark” about what is happening is even more disturbing.
I hope that, if large-scale changes are in the works (as they seem to be), you and the other people guiding such changes will take a step back and realize how detrimental quick and drastic measures could be. You propose to increase consistency and readership, but enacting changes quickly and rashly could have the exact opposite effect, causing great damage the identity and support that WTJU now receives.
I recently talked with a friend who lives in Charlottesville and asked her about what she had heard regarding these changes. She mentioned that she would want the money that she donated in the last fundraising marathon back if that donation was not going towards the type of programming that she expected it to fund. I understand that neither she nor I may be fully aware of the process through which changes will be implemented or the full extent of the planned changes, but I think this is a striking example of why quick changes would be wrong. Many people have invested their time and money in WTJU, and suddenly redirecting and reconfiguring that commitment is rightfully upsetting.
I hope that you will slow down any large-scale changes to WTJU and welcome extensive input and ideas from WTJU’s many volunteers and dedicated listeners. To not do so would be a disservice to the station’s listeners, volunteers and the Charlottesville community at large.
I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth Stark and I was a rock DJ at WTJU from 1998-1999 and again from 2001-2003. I have lived in Brooklyn with my husband, Brian Campbell, also a former DJ, for the past 7 years. As a DJ I was always very involved, especially with the 1999 rock marathon, I have also come to down for marathons, and hosted marathon related benefits since I moved. We have also continued to donate to WTJU throughout the years.
I understand there are changes afoot at the station and wanted to write to you with my concerns. I have always fought for more rock programming during the day, not less. Rock doesn't have consistent daytime listenership because it doesn't have consistent time slots. You know, the whole 2-4 except on Fridays thing. But I have always found that this daytime slot is worth preserving, it is when many of the older DJs have the chance to present the very best of TJU rock. Among the many greats that have held the daytime slot are, Renee Crist (Ground Rule Double Dutch was the first show I heard on TJU and it ignited my love for the station), Rob Sheffield, Tyler Magill, Dominic Devito, Gay Church, Davis Salisbury, and, of course, Gold Finger. Daytime rock is essential and I urge you to please reconsider the programming changes. Just because one likes rock music does not mean they don't like to sleep.
I also understand that there is talk of a popular music rotation, a la WNRN. This absolutely flies in the face of everything the station stands for and will completely undermine the integrity of the station. A few weeks ago my husband and I were driving down 29 towards Charlottesville, and, as soon as we came into range, we tuned in to WTJU. Mysteriously creeping over the radio waves was a sermon set to electronic music (Tyler Magill's show). It was long and irreverent, and exactly the thing the sets our station apart. The music of WTJU is fueled by the DJ's passion and knowledge, not the CMJ music charts. It is a similar debate that takes place in media, long form vs. the soundbite. Music does not need to be consumable. Music needs to reflect the passion and expertise of the DJ. This is what the station has always stood for, and to move away from free form radio would be an absolute tragedy.
If the mandated playlist goes into effect, we will be forced to seriously consider our allegiance and financial support of the station. I understand that many of these changes are inevitable, but please, please do not enforce playlists. It will be the end of an amazing community radio station.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your consideration.
Is not the enemy here. But the way to explain and involved the volunteer membership in that process is an audio-visual one.
Make a grid of the OLD WTJU program schedule; make it big enough for everyone who does a show to be visible.
Then make a PROPOSED grid of the future block programming.
Display individual shows so DJ's can see where they will fit in.
Make a Plan with People in the Plan. One picture can save a thousand hearts from breaking.
You seem very bushy-tailed and energetic about this. I wish I could share your enthusiasm.
Playlist-free has been WTJU's identity for over fifty years; doesn't it deserve a little more life-support before you toss it.
Where is the harm, the damage done to celebrating past musical tangents.
The basic issue @ WTJU is the genius of the individual DJ; this is what we uniquely offer. I'm afraid that we risk loosing many good people and compromising the talent of those that remain if we impose an overly aggressive playlist.
No one person can possibly hope to command sufficient knowledge to intervene in each show. Some amount of direction from above (you/UVA) may be tolerable but to over-routinize our offerings may be the demise of WTJU programming.
We are after-all a university/community radio station, not a commercial radio station. And our true value lies in the accumulated musical knowledge of the volunteer DJ's.
If you want to polish the professionalism of WTJU volunteers, do it with content---better technical skills for new DJ's, more complex production skills for veterans, better maintained equipment for all. These routinized playlists condescend to ourselves and our listeners.
I think this is a RED HERRING. The University of Virginia gets an immense bang for its buck at WTJU. If you calculate the worth of each DJ's contribution@$20 per hour, WTJU volunteer membership makes an in-kind contribution to the station of $1.4 million. There has been mention of the $150,000 that the University spends on WTJU salaries. If true, then the University's investment has been multiplied ten-fold.
My ideas about better fund-raising include:
a. sliding scale membership dues from $50 + per year, per volunteer.
b an Advisory Board that actively supports and cultivates prospective donors. Other Charlottesville arts organizations (i.e. Live Arts where I serve on the board) insist that their Advisory Board be both donors and fund raisers.
c. a return to 4 marathons per year, with mandatory membership involvement in all aspects of marathon organization, not just broadcasting.
d. fund-raising/underwriting staff position that replaces current underwriting-only position.
thank to all who are working so hard to keep our station alive.
best, ann porotti
Office of Public Affairs
I cannot believe what is happening at WTJU. After working with the Office of Public Affairs in good faith, all winter and spring, to ensure a smooth transition from Chuck to Burr, the 100 -plus DJ’s at TJU--many of them prominent citizens in the community-- are finding themselves summarily deprived of the shows they have built over decades. Many of these shows have developed a listener base on which the contributions to the station operating budget largely depends.
We do not blame Burr for this; we know that he is under intense pressure from the University of Virginia to somehow “improve” WTJU. But why were none of these ambitions to change the station shared with any of us who worked with you along the way? Instead an edict has simply come down that drastic schedule changes are now in place.
Of course, we all anticipated “some change” with the new Station Manager. But what you have done strikes many of us as using Burr as a stalking horse for some ambition that the University seems to have for the station, an ambition which it has not chosen to share with those of us who are the station.
I am also copying English Professor Jahan Ramazani, with whom I recently I had a conversation about his fond memories of working at the station as its first Jazz Director and about how much he enjoys its current programming.
June 21, 2010
To the WTJU community
From Carol Wood & Marian Anderfuren
In advance of this week's meetings, we'd like to provide some context to what's going on at WTJU and to explain a bit more about the road ahead. Our wish is to arm you with facts rather than conjecture and rumor.
As the staff, board members and volunteers who were part of the hiring process heard several times, the time has come to freshen the WTJU format, give it a stronger identification with the University, build listenership, engage more students and, as a result, improve its financial condition. Burr, who was the choice of all the search teams and has 30 years of professional experience, is the right person to lead these changes.
We are talking here about the very survival of WTJU. Its financial condition, to be frank, is not good. The recent fundraisers fell short of their goals, and funds had to be transferred to cover staff members' salaries. Before and during the general manager search, we had approval from the highest levels of University leadership to close the station down if we didn't see a reasonable path toward improvement. That very nearly happened, but, since then, the University has renewed its commitment, going so far as to fund some new and much needed equipment purchases with Public Affairs resources.
We have moved quickly – perhaps too quickly – and for that we apologize. Some of our early discussions needed to remain confidential. The change toward day-parting jazz and rock was made unilaterally; however, those who were part of the search knew that change was inevitable. We must make it easy for listeners to find the music they want to listen to, because building listenership is one of the keys to success.
The WTJU community is passionate and we want to draw on that passion going forward. Many of you have expressed an understanding of the necessity for the station to change in order to survive. Change is often difficult, but together we can make good things happen at WTJU for listeners, students, donors and underwriters.
We look forward to seeing you this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the first-floor conference room of 400 Ray C. Hunt Drive.
Marian L. Anderfuren
Director of Media Relations
U.Va. Office of Public Affairs
In my opinion, passion for music is the common bond all of us at WTJU share. It differentiates WTJU from all of the other music sources. It is a primary attraction for our listeners and for the musicians that come to visit because they know that at WTJU, it is all about the music. To dilute or even possibly forsake this WTJU pillar may cause the entire temple to fall.
Quite frankly, my personal passion for music is why I have given so much of my time to the station. When I am speaking on the air, besides the brief underwriting, PSAs and promos, I am talking about the musicians and their music and then I gladly get out of the way. Perhaps I am interpreting the document all wrong and allowing my fears to run amok within the void of information. I look forward to clarifications come Thursday about this and also about what I find to be the single most disturbing paragraph in the document:
It’s not enough to expose people to new music when it’s just a smattering of all kinds of music. We reduce the genres to only those with the same appeal, and then provide enough repetition, balance and diversity so we create cool new solid identity.
A note from Tyler: I agree with your points, and there is one word I see in your excepted text that I will be addressing soon. That word is "cool." I am worried that the freeform nature of WTJU is being sacrificed, uselessly, on an altar of putative cool. Not only do I not believe that the proposed changes will result in a "cooler" product, I argue that "coolness" was never part of WTJU's mission or identity.
- The formatting of this blog. I would like this blog to be as legible as possible to as many people as possible. If there are any suggestions you would like to make as to improving readability, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment after this post.
- The word choice of the URL. That the URL of this site is 'savewtju' is no accident, but I would like to make it clear exactly what I propose we are saving it from. We are not necessarily saving it from any one person. We are saving it from alienating it from the community of volunteers, we are saving it from alienating it from the community at large, and we are saving it from a stagnation that may be keeping it from reaching its full potential. All parties have valid points, and things that they wish to save or believe need saving.
- The word choice of the name of the blog. It cannot be denied that WTJU is, in fact, in crisis. The name of the blog reflects only this fact, and should in no way be considered a comment thereon. No fingers are being pointed.
What I want to do is create a new buzz of excitement in the community with our station. I want to get you known more in the community for the work you do at WTJU! People want to hear good songs, especially if they never heard them before and we are the station that plays them new artists, upbeat songs, quirky songs, - plus a memorable classic here and there and the right touch of repetition makes us consistent, reliable and memorable!
Radios strong point is repetition. Thats why commercials are repeated so often. Lets use this property to our benefit - when we sign up an underwriter that buys time many times a week. It also works when we repeat songs a number of times per week. We know this is the rule for commercial broadcasters. How can we make spin count and repetition work for us while still remaining fresh and non-commercial?
If we play a weeks worth of music rarely repeating a song, very few people hear the great new song you just played. People tune in and out of radio every minute.
If a 12 song hour includes 4 songs from a playlist depending on the rotation you start creating familiarity. Suddenly artists even independent artists and songs become known to listeners.
This is how it will work:
We will call the playlist songs Currents. To create the right balance of repetition and diversity on WTJU, in the Jazz and Rock night-time programming, a 4 song Current list of new music will be required each hour. In a 12 song hour 4 Currents are chosen for you and 8 and are DJ and request chosen. We will rotate CDs, not singles, and we will report to CD/Artist charts, not singles charts. We want to use repetition to our advantage without creating a short playlist sound.
Music Directors will choose Current adds and drops weekly to impact new playlists each Monday. Two tracks from each add will be selected, 2 upbeat strong radio songs, including the CDs single if it is being promoted that way. Each time the CD comes up in rotation the DJ will play the song that wasnt played last. All Currents in all genres will be digital tracks in a new ENCO studio playback computer that will be in the on-air studio soon.
For Jazz, the 4 required songs will come from a playlist of 16 artists with current new releases. In 3 hours of Jazz per night, 12 of 16 Cds will receive a spin. Each night has a new starting point with the first 4 that were not played last night. Songs played last night will be heard at different times of the evening.
In Rocks 5 hours per night we can rotate 4 Currents per hour from a playlist of 20 new CDs. In a 5 hour night, the whole list will rotate once. The next night the list will be shuffled so different CDs will fall into totally different play spots.
You on the air, every week doing your show, helps to make you known and memorable to the audience. Programming a show yourself each week connects you with the people you want to reach. Interacting with the audience - picture yourself not able to handle all the calls you get! This all makes us sound better as a station. I want you to become total station-focused - working to support all our related shows - on one great station. Thats what more people will support with more dollars!
We can build household names out of our favorite new artists. I have done that with new no-name artists, and over 100 people came out to concert after concert of these people when I brought them to town in a market where these artists never played before.
There is already an audience in Charlottesville for alternative music artists, and WTJU deserves and will reap the credit for building the local music scene to its next new level. I want to do a live concert broadcast every week of different music. Artists will come to town to do concerts for us because of the spins we give them. Charlottesville can become the Austin of the East.
Its not enough to expose people to new music when its just a smattering of all kinds of music. We reduce the genres to only those with the same appeal, and then provide enough repetition, balance and diversity so we create cool new solid identity.
We rotate the music just right, create a weekly spin count we can report to the right music charts, the more interviews and shows we can do with artists, start raising the funds we need to, truly impact the community and have a great time doing radio with WTJU. This is my goal!
Key Questions and Answers for the New WTJU
Show me whos listening. How do you know who is listening from 5-8pm?
Arbitron show a downward trend in listening to WTJU. Currently on average only 7500 people listen each week. Thats the smallest audience of any non-comm station serving Charlottesville. Fund-raising has been on a downward swing at the same rate as the listener drop. The station gets very few calls about what they hear on the air, or calls for giveaways. Well give cds or tickets to anybody who bothers to call.
This said, the 5-8pm time has been one of the strongest listening times. So if a change from classical or folk to jazz in this slot retains some of those people, consistent jazz programming across the week will likely grow the audience.
This is as much a hunch as any Arbitron science but I make the next sections case by experience.
Show me how repetition of songs is better than DJ selected. How do you know what listeners will like?
Tasteful repetition of two songs per CD at a time at a rate less than half the songs played in an hour provides a consistent baseline to programming. It lets more listeners hear good songs. They will hear the song again later in the week. They will talk about the songs they like and the station that plays them. They will listen the next day to hear the good songs and new ones. They also will like the chance to win these new cds.
Repeating songs does more to benefit our favorite artists than just spinning the cd a few times a week. Increased spin counts and reporting to charts, labels and reps, gets us cds of the week to give away, gets us artists to interview at the station, gets us concerts with the artists to benefit WTJU.
Working with charts and the other radio stations that use them, many of them non-commercial, lets us know what they are playing, what is working in their markets. This will help us know what a good choice might be in our market. With directors choosing music and talking to the whole department I suggest monthly meetings - to talk about music you will help choose what is working and whats not.
Show me how to play the rotation and still have fun doing a show this way.
Are we having fun yet? Helping the artists, getting people to talk about the station, keep listening and telling their friends. Getting cds for giveaway and fund-drives. Getting artists to the station and in the community for interviews and concerts.
And the phone calls about the songs they hear, 5-10-15 callers for a giveaway, they will tell you who is listening.
Beyond the playlist to insure a great time on your show: Show listeners you are having a good time. Extend your personality. Open the mic and be heard! Do you show every week, and get subs for when you are away. Do giveaways and plan other reasons for listeners to call you. Get to know your listeners by first name and location. Talk to them by name on the air. Send a song out for somebody by name.
Create interaction all the time and you will build audience, know who is listening, and have a great time with the radio station!
Quarter Hour Maintenance
Top Legal ID, UVA liner
01 BBC News
06 Liner into music
15 UCA, PSA, Promo
30 UCA, Feature
45 UCA, PSA, Promo
Top Legal ID, UVA liner
All-5 minute features, UVA Today etc, move to 30 past on days they air
Live segments, no more than 25 minutes, must run after news or after features at 06 or 35.
Always enter and exit a break with some combination of roots 91.1 WTJU (one to all three words)
Keep you voice level equal to music level watch VU meters like watching your rear view mirror while driving. Punch the red every so often as you speak. Pot up past unity gain if soft-voiced.
This is more personality-driven than keep host out of the way of the music driven programming.
You are the programming, your consistent mix music, your good fund-raising are all part of the good programming blend on the new WTJU.
First of all, I laud Mr. Beard's desire to raise WTJU's profile. I believe that his intentions are good, and we should never allow our discourse to be poisoned with the sort of rancor that debases those we do not agree with to the level of idiots. This isn't talk radio, here; we are better than that.
With that having been said, I believe that Mr. Beard and the people who hired him are fundamentally misguided as to the nature of WTJU's mission, which is stated on the front page of our website (wtju.net):
WTJU presents original, rich, and diverse programming of music
and other forms of expression free from
the direct constraints of commercial interests,
reflecting the broadest educational goals of the University.
- impoverish the richness and diversity of our programming,
- render us more vulnerable to the constraints of commercial interest, and thus
- ill serve the reflection of the broadest educational goals of the University, and the surrounding community that has come to rely on WTJU.
I am going to try to remain as calm as possible about what is going on. To call myself neutral in the proceedings would be a lie, but I understand the need for perhaps a new direction at WTJU. Perhaps some wholesale changes are necessary. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I disagree with the basic tenets of what the new station manager, Burr Beard, is trying to implement. I feel that Mr. Beard is not proposing simple changes but a wholesale reorientation of WTJU's basic philosophy.
One of the larger problems many in the community have had with Mr. Beard's radical actions has been the sudden-ness and autocratic nature of them. So swiftly are things moving right now that many people are being asked to change what they are doing without knowing the basic facts. I myself was in that boat. When I heard the basics of the changes being... I won't say 'proposed,' but rather 'demanded,' I was sad but resigned. However, finally seeing certain key documents and hearing an overwhelmingly negative response from both the community of volunteers and the listening community, I cannot remain acquiescent.
Hence, this blog. As it stands, all changes being made go into effect on July 5th. That's not a lot of time. At the very least, I hope to make important documents and conversations known to all so that the public can make their own decisions. Anyone who wishes to post documents that they feel should be disseminated may send them to email@example.com. In the interest of fairness, let me stress that this offer is open not only to people I agree with. It is open to Mr. Beard, it is open to his direct supervisor at UVA, it is open to members of the community. While I have my own opinions, and strong ones, I feel that it would be antithetical to the spirit of the University of Virginia and WTJU to censor information for my own personal gain or for the gain of that which I believe in.