Monday, June 21, 2010

7. Excerpts from a Letter from Ann Porotti to Burr Beard

I think we should slow this process down, but if we are going to continue apace here are some thoughts on what I see as the three central issues.

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


  1. Well said, Ann. To share my perspective: when I think of all the change we've advocated just in the past year, I find it downright insulting to be accused of being irrational and against *all change* now that we're criticizing these suggestions.

  2. I just heard about this, and I am in shock. Playlist-free is THE core attribute of WTJU and has been for as long as I can remember (I started at the station in 1979). Playlist-free is the reason I tune in all the time - has put me back in touch with music again. Playlist-free is the reason I contributed $150 last year (plus a matching grant from my employer). Ann is exactly right: such an important feature of the station shouldn't be discarded so casually. There are ways to fix the issues at WTJU without breaking WTJU.