Monday, June 21, 2010

2. "consistency.doc"

A great deal of the controversy generated by the proposed changes has to do with "consistency.doc," wherein Mr. Beard outlines his proposal to institute the use of playlists or rotations at WTJU. I disagree with this practice, for reasons I will get to after the document, which follows in its entirety.

The All New Consistent and Reliable WTJU

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 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.

In my view, the institution of a playlist will
  1. impoverish the richness and diversity of our programming,
  2. render us more vulnerable to the constraints of commercial interest, and thus
  3. ill serve the reflection of the broadest educational goals of the University, and the surrounding community that has come to rely on WTJU.
I, and I am sure many others, will come back to these three points and many more, in the future. For the moment, however, I have to get back to formatting the letters of Samuel Johnson. The content of consistency.doc, and the Mission of WTJU, are enough to think about for the moment.

1 comment:

  1. This document reads more like a multi-pronged plan of attack to turn WTJU into WUVA (or does WUVA even still exist?).

    One of the reasons I was with 'TJU for nine years was because it was about the music, not the djs.

    Drastically reducing the amount of music played, creating rotations, aiming for a mix of upbeat and/or quirky songs, and an emphasis on repetition all are things that, to me, would destroy the soul of 'TJU.

    Calling listeners out by name on the air . . . the thought that creeps me out.

    I'll close this with some lyrics written by Mark E. Smith, of The Fall:

    Right noise.
    We're gonna get real speedy
    You gotta wear black all the time
    You're gonna make it on your own.

    Cos we dig
    Cos we dig
    We dig
    We dig repetition
    We dig repetition
    We've repetition in the music
    And we're never going to lose it.

    All you daughters and sons
    who are sick of fancy music
    We dig repetition
    Repetition on the drums
    and we're never going to lose it.

    This is the three R's
    The three R's:
    Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

    Oh mental hospitals
    Oh mental hospitals
    They put electrodes in your brain
    And you're never the same
    You don't dig repetition
    You don't love repetition

    Repetition in the music and we're never going to loose it

    President Carter loves repetition
    Chairman Mao he dug repetition

    Repetition in China
    Repetition in America
    Repetition in West Germany
    Simultaneous suicides

    We dig it, we dig it,
    we dig it, we dig it

    Repetition, repetition, repetition
    Repetition, repetition, Regal Zonophone

    There is no hesitation
    This is your situation
    Continue a blank generation
    Blank generation
    Same old blank generation
    Groovy blank generation
    Swinging blank generation

    Repetition, repetition, repetition . . . .