Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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.


  1. Actually, thank YOU. You've been a lifeline throughout this process. Without your regular updates, and fair treatment of issues, this could have easily reached a much more unfortunate end.

    Without you, taking on this task like the A-Team or David Banner, we might not have a radio station today.

    In all seriousness, thank you Tyler.

  2. "We need your financial support, we need your manpower, we need your vision."

    Ok, financial support: have done, do and will continue. How do I offer manpower, and, maybe, vision?