Although it’s the dead of summer, there’s definitely lots going on in the world of college radio. With students mostly on summer break, sadly, much of the news isn’t so great. As we’ve seen time and time again, often big announcements from administrators occur either right before or during summer and winter breaks. In keeping with that, it was just revealed that Colby-Sawyer College plans to sell the FM license for WSCS in New London, New Hampshire for a mere $4,000 to the Vinikoor Family Foundation. According to the purchase agreement, in addition to the license, the purchase price also includes the WSCS transmitter and antenna.
Although the Vinikoor Foundation is a non-profit, members of the group run some local commercial radio stations. Sheila Vinikoor is the owner of talk radio station WNTK-FM in New London, NH and Koor Communications (owned by Robert and Sheila Vinikoor) owns several translators in New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as country radio station WCVR-AM in Randolph, Vermont.
Plans for WSCS-FM are a bit vague. An educational statement included with the FCC filing states that the group will,
…provide distinctive educational programming and training opportunities to residents…Programming will include balanced, inspiring, and creative cultural and political programs that strengthen public dialogue and enrich the minds of listeners. We aim to create a community of listeners informed by high quality programs that address a range of interests and ideas…”
There have been rumors that Colby-Sawyer was contemplating a station sale for nearly a year. Some supporters of the college radio station have been posting pleas on Facebook. A May 19 post states,
The administration at Colby-Sawyer College has made the decision to close down WSCS 90.9 FM – the only non-commercial educational radio station in the Kearsarge / Sunapee regions. If non-commercial educational and local community radio is important to you, please contact the administration at Colby-Sawyer to express your concerns. WSCS is licensed to provide a public service to your community, and would be a great loss as an FM broadcast resource. Thank you for your consideration. Save WSCS.”
Attempts to contact staff at Colby-Sawyer, WSCS, and at Vinikoor Foundation were unsuccessful, but I will continue to follow this story as we hopefully learn more about the future of radio at Colby-Sawyer College.
Cal Poly Administrators Unhappy with KCPR Antics
In other news, KCPR-FM at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo could be facing an uncertain future after some DJs pulled some questionable fundraising antics in which they offered to send photos of their genitals. Cal Coast News reports that,
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Douglas Epperson said in an email shortly before the story broke that he saw no need to keep the station, which has been operated by students for more than 46 years.
‘I am beginning to believe that we should sell the radio license’ (we have had an offer),’ Epperson wrote in an email sent May 19. ‘What were they thinking and how could it go so far with the faculty completely unaware!!!’
Epperson confirmed in an email to Cal Poly’s interim Director of Media Relations Matt Lazier that also went to Provost Kathleen Enz Finken, that he had been warned earlier about conditions at KCPR.
‘I can confirm that the secretary approached me early this year regarding a number of issues,’ Epperson wrote on May 27. ‘One of these was her desire to be taken off the FCC license for the radio station and another was her concern about the lack of oversight provided for the radio station.'”
It’s disappointing to hear that the behavior of a couple of DJs is putting the station’s license at risk. I’m hopeful that KCPR will be able to continue as a student radio station, as its legacy is much more than one unfortunate incident. I was reminded recently that Weird Al Yankovich was a DJ at KCPR when he was first inspired to start creating songs parodying popular hits. I visited the station back in 2008 and have meet some of the staff and DJs in recent years and will be hoping for the best for the station’s future.
WRAS Staff Respond to GPB Letter
Last week I reported on the back and forth letters between two Georgia public radio groups in reference to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB)’s recent takeover of daytime FM programming over Georgia State University station WRAS-FM. In response to the public dialogue between Public Broadcasting Atlanta (WABE) and GPB, WRAS Atlanta Album 88 staff penned their own letter to GPB Chairman Michael McDougald. WRAS writes,
While the long-term impacts are yet to be felt, this intrusion into WRAS’s daytime analog signal has had short-term consequences on the morale of the staff as well as our impact on national charts. Not only is this a bad deal for students, especially since we were completely left out of the negotiations, but it’s also bad for the entire Atlanta area. GPB on WRAS duplicates 64% (in real-time) of the programming that can already be heard on Atlanta’s NPR Station (WABE-FM); it also duplicates 96% of overall WABE programming that is available via their FM and HD signals. We stand with Dr. Sullivan and the PBA Board of Directors in their assertion that this duplication by GPB, a state agency with almost half its funding coming from taxpayers, is a ‘wasteful intrusion’ into the Atlanta market–all at the expense of student opportunity.”
WRAS also points out that student fees have supported the student station over the years and that an allocation of funds to support a new transmitter was made without students being told of the future use of the transmitter by an outside group. According to the letter,
Because our station been built and supported 100% by student activity fees since the beginning, it seems that an individual stressing the importance of a healthy democracy would encourage allowing all stakeholders to have a seat at the table. Such a failure to include students in the negotiations of this deal is not only a bad reflection on GSU but also on GPB and is even more of an insult when considering that the new WRAS transmitter that GPB will be using (notably for more hours per week than students) was paid for in full with $313,098 in student activity fees. The committee that allocated these fees had no knowledge of your future intended use since GPB along with GSU did not include students in this decision.”
In the letter, WRAS also states that it will continue to fight this deal, arguing that, “While the GSU administration has heard our concerns and is actively trying to salvage student airtime during the day, our fight is not over. We are pursuing every route possible to ensure that this deal does not last, though things would end much cleaner for both GSU and GPB if one party stepped up to the table and gave back to students what is rightfully theirs.”
Also this week, WRAS supporters attended the GPB Board meeting. After they made some statements to the board, the President of GPB agreed to meet with WRAS staff. It’s unclear when this will happen, but it apparently comes after numerous prior attempts to schedule a meeting between WRAS and GPB. Updates about the situation at WRAS can be found on the Save WRAS Facebook page, Save WRAS website, and on Twitter at SaveWRAS and #SaveWRAS.
College Radio in Connecticut Gets Some Press
In better news, New Haven Living just ran an article highlighting a diverse roster of college radio stations in Connecticut. There are some nice profiles of WNHU-FM (University of New Haven), WCNI-FM (Connecticut College), WQAQ-FM (Quinnipiac University), WVOF-FM (Fairfield University), WSIN-AM (campus-only AM at Southern Connecticut State University), and WHRT (streaming station at Sacred Heart University).
We report on college radio news every Friday in our College Radio Watch column.
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