Friday, June 25, 2010

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.


  1. Good work Mr. Shea. You're, as always, totally on point.

  2. I feel like I've been making this case sort of hysterically for the last week -- it was the main substance of the letter I sent Beard and Anderfuren -- but I don't think a community radio station, or any non-profit radio station, should think of itself as after somebody else's listeners. In his open letter, Chuck said that we should put WTJU above our own shows, and that's true, but I also think we should put the health of the community above the health of the station that serves it. 500 people listen. If we change what we're doing and suddenly 1000 people listen, but 600 of those people used to be listening to NRN, we are doing less, not more, to serve the community. The job of a for profit station is to attract more listeners to itself. The job of a not for profit station is (or we must insist that it become) to attract more listeners to the radio in general. The mere fact that we are (or were) volunteers suggests that we are not in this for ourselves. The fact that the stations management is being paid for their work, I'm starting (sadly) to think, might mean that they are in this primarily for themselves, or their bosses.

    If management can come up with a format that will not only increase TJU's listenership, but increase the net number of people listening to the radio, I'm all for that, even if it means getting rid of music entirely. If it turns out that 10K people in this town only care about bull fighting, we should switch to round the clock bull fighting, because those people have nowhere else to turn on the radio.

    I'm no expert, but I think we're already offering the best mix of programing for the task at hand. Any listeners we pick up with format changes, it seems to me, would have to come from the audiences of people who already think of themselves as satisfied with the stations they listen to currently. We are not a business and we are better than that, both aesthetically and ethically. The people we need to attract are people who don't like anything else on the dial, and it may be that there are only 7,500 of those people in the area.

  3. When did 'TJU lose afternoon rock hours, and for what reason?

    Also, if we've reduced the fundraising marathons from four to two, I'd think that would likely have a negative financial impact, thereby at least partially explaining the drop in listener financial support.