Tuesday, October 5, 2010

50. Burr Beard Has Resigned from WTJU

A letter the WTJU-all listserv received an hour ago.

To all members of the WTJU community,

We write to let you know that Burr has resigned. His decision was a great disappointment to us and we tried hard to convince him to reconsider, but in the end the tug of family concerns, quite understandably, trumped everything.

We also write to assure you of several things. First, the station will continue to operate with Rob, Jane and Gayle as the management team while we consult with University administration about next steps, including the hiring of a replacement for Burr. During this time, Rob, Jane and Gayle will be responsible for all of the station's operations. We are looking into the hiring of temp employees to assist them with specific tasks. And with the help of engineer Alan Williams, WTJU will continue to meet its FCC obligations.

Second, the Jazz-tober fund-raising marathon will go on as scheduled Oct. 11-17. With Burr's departure, some details were left unresolved, but the jazz directors and staff are confident that, if everyone pulls together, it will be a success. So, if you have time to contribute, as a pitch partner or phone answerer, let Rob, Jane and Gayle know. More will be coming about this from the music directors.

Finally, we hope to see a continuation of the energy, events and important changes that started during Burr's tenure. A few of those include the launch of the new website; recruitment of many new student volunteers at fall activities fair; a back-to-school barbecue and station tours for Lambeth students that resulted in volunteer applications; a welcome-back concert for students at the Amphitheatre; and a host of sponsored and partnership events that have reenergized everyone who works at WTJU.

Thanks to all for your work on behalf of WTJU. We will keep you posted about developments as they happen.

Carol Wood & Marian Anderfuren

I have no idea what's going on with Burr's family; I certainly hope that no-one is in any danger and that things resolve for him.

Of course, this now leaves us in a similar spot to this summer. The Office of Public Affairs says they want to continue building on all the momentum we have accrued over the last couple of months; I believe them. Of course, I'm gonna trust in God but tie up my camel, but what are you gonna do?

Now is the time to stay closer than ever to WTJU. The Office of Public Affairs, to be blunt, is having a couple of months I wouldn't wish on anyone. First, there was the PR cockup around WTJU. Then, the real blow: the suicide of Kevin Morrissey and suspension of publication over at the VQR. There has also been a recent crime spree around Grounds, and the question of whether students were warned in time or not.

All of this should place the problems at WTJU in some perspective for us - no-one has died, and no-one is grieving. We should be thankful, and save a prayer or supportive thought for the Beards. But again, to be blunt, the very fact that no-one is in mortal peril at WTJU relegates us to OPA's back burner, which means they need our help more than ever. Without our help, WTJU is going to get half-assed to death, and not because Carol Wood, Marian Anderfuren and the OPA don't care, but because they simply don't have time to deal with us in the fashion we deserve.

Hopefully, looking for the next GM, we can have greater involvement by the DJ community and our alumni. We re-energized over the summer, and it was great to see. I know that I stepped back over the last couple of months; it's time to get back in. Hiring a GM who understands our very unique position (freeform programming by experts in a challenging market) and our not so unique challenges for the future (establishing a presence on the web and ensuring that WTJU can continue as musical and informational curators in what is rapidly becoming a post-live broadcast terrain) is going to be just as crucial as it was last time when we hired Burr Beard. This time, however, I truly believe that we are all on the same page: staff, volunteers, alumni, listeners, University... the entire community. This is exciting.

Stay tuned. I will bring you news as soon as I can. If you have information that I haven't posted yet which you think is relevant, please send it to me at smilin.tyler@gmail.com.

Oh, and the best way to make your presence known right now? The same way as always: with your wallets. The Jazz Marathon is coming up, starting Friday. Donate. And with your donation, send a message. Tell them that you want to be involved. Tell them that you have expectations for the next GM, and say what those expectations are. Carol Wood was discussing, at one point, a $2 per day donation (the two dollar bill is the Jefferson bill, natch). That's a $520 donation. Think about it. Wouldn't it be great to show OPA and the new president of UVA how important WTJU is to the community by having a record-breaking fundraiser? I know that Radio IQ is just wrapping up their fundraiser, and we share a great portion of our listenership. If you donated to them, I can understand that. They fill many needs WTJU doesn't. But if you could dig extra deep for us, I know a lot of people who would be really appreciative.

Alright. As the roadie said, let's carve this turkey.