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WRVU Still Fighting to Save College Radio at Vanderbilt

Save WRVU Campaign Continues at Vanderbilt University

Back in September 2010, students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee were informed that the group that owns the student radio station, WRVU, was investigating selling off the station’s license and transmitter. The non-profit which controls WRVU, Vanderbilt Student Communications (VSC), has stated that they are seeking input about the possible station sale, but they have yet to make an official announcement about the future of the station. Some interesting perspective on the proposed sale can be found in a February 28 letter (and in the comments attached to that letter) in the Vanderbilt Hustler from the student members of the VSC Board. According to the letter:

“WRVU, like…all other student media operations at Vanderbilt, is owned and operated by Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc. VSC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, separate from the university. An eight-person board of directors, consisting of five students and three faculty members, controls the organization. Our funding comes from two main sources: Hustler advertising revenue and a portion of the student activity fees you pay each year.

If the 91.1 FM license, which is held and overseen by the VSC board of directors, is sold, revenue from the sale would be used to create an endowment. Interest accrued from the endowment would be used to support student media operating expenses in the future. WRVU would not go away if the FM license were sold; rather, an endowment would provide the station with the resources necessary to thrive in a changing media landscape…

Whatever our decision on the future of WRVU’s FM broadcasts may be, it will be made by a board controlled by students, with the intent of creating the best possible future for student media at Vanderbilt. As always, we are committed to looking out for both the students who consume our products and the students who create them.”

WRVU supporters have been working to build awareness around the situation at their station and their efforts can be found at the Save WRVU website. They are encouraging listeners to write letters to not only the VSC Board, but also to members of the administration and student government at Vanderbilt University. Over the weekend the Save WRVU crew was out at Grimey’s Records in Nashville for Record Store Day and was able to garner support from Chuck D of Public Enemy fame.

The final VSC Board Meeting of the year will be held tomorrow, Wednesday April 20; so the folks at the group WRVU Friends and Family are encouraging WRVU supporters (particularly Vanderbilt alumni) to write letters opposing the WRVU sale in advance of that meeting. Letters emailed to WRVU Friends and Family at wrvualum AT NOLO dot TV by 12 noon on Wednesday (Central time) will be printed and hand-delivered to the VSC Board. A list of other suggested recipients can be found here.

If you care about college radio, this is an important time to show support for WRVU, particularly in light of the recent sale of KTRU at Rice University and the pending sale of KUSF at University of San Francisco.


All Radio Survivor articles about WRVU can be found here.

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One Response to WRVU Still Fighting to Save College Radio at Vanderbilt

  1. Save WRVU Community Group April 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm #


    WRVU 91.1 FM is the oldest continuously running non-profit radio station in Nashville, and is Nashville’s ONLY non-corporate and totally independent voice for music and other totally unique programming. WRVU is the student voice of Vanderbilt University and Nashville’s “voice of the community.” We need to remain diligent to save WRVU. We need help to keep WRVU alive and broadcasting over the public airwaves. Saving WRVU is important.

    WRVU has been a part of Vanderbilt University and a part of the Nashville community for almost 60 years. Losing WRVU would not only be a tragedy for Vanderbilt University and its history, it would also be a tragedy for Nashville, Music City, itself. Now it is time to become active and do all we can to help save WRVU, not only a historical beacon but a current vital part of Vanderbilt and its surrounding community. WRVU 91.1 FM and Nashville are symbiotic.

    The station is currently up for sale by Vanderbilt Student Communications (VSC), the non-profit company that Vanderbilt spun off in 1967 to give all media at Vanderbilt FREEDOM OF SPEECH to print/say whatever they wanted (during the Vietnam War era) and very importantly, to shield Vanderbilt University from responsibility and liability. Unfortunately, the VSC has become something of a bad parent and wants to sell their most financially valuable child, WRVU, to use the money to fund their ballooning budget and fund the OTHER media at Vanderbilt. Their reasons given for selling ring false once researched, except for the financial reason. It is all about the money. WRVU itself costs a small fraction of the VSC’s yearly budget. Just over 1% of the VSC’s 2010 budget. While the VSC’s salaries take up a whopping 50+% of their current $900,000 budget. The cost of running WRVU varies slightly from year to year, yet, at most, WRVU only costs $75,000 per year to run, and that is probably an overestimate. The VSC itself has given the figures of a $10,000 to $75,000 per year cost to run WRVU. The VSC has also given no specific way to save WRVU. There has been no answer given to the question of “what can we do to save the station?” The only option the VSC have offered is to provide feedback to the VSC, the entity that wants to sell the station. After over 1000+ supportive letters were received by the VSC, they shuffled the deck once again and stated that only opinions of Vanderbilt students were what mattered to the VSC.

    WRVU existed for almost 20 years before the VSC existed. The VSC started in 1967 with one part-time paid staff member and 20 students running everything. The advisor was a professional journalist. One single part-time paid VSC staff. This continued for approximately 30 years, until fairly recently, but over the past 10 years or so, the VSC now has hired 7 salaried staff members who receive a total salary of more than $400,000 ($457,000 in 2008) of the $900,000 budget.

    There has been a lot of talk and statements that VSC and WRVU are not officially a part of Vanderbilt University. This is not true. For almost 60 years, Vanderbilt students created and built the value that WRVU now holds. The word “Vanderbilt” in the name “Vanderbilt Student Communications” is not a coincidence. In fact, the call letters WRVU stand for “We aRe Vanderbilt University!” Never forget that. (FRIEND & FOLLOW US!) (Follow us!) (currently the same as the next two sites) (currently the same as the previous and next site) (currently the same as the previous two sites)

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