Trust Me, Vanderbilt

Interesting post on the Orbis website (“Amplifying Vanderbilt’s Progressive Voice”), out of Nashville, by Meghan O’Neil concerning the proposed sale of the Vanderbilt radio station, WRVU. The station is actually owned by VSC, Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc., “a non-profit organization, separate from Vanderbilt, that comprises all of Vanderbilt student media, including ORBIS, The Hustler, and Vanderbilt television.”

According to the article, bean counter claims that everything is being done aboveboard, in an open manner, are belied by this:

WRVU staff found that the web domains,, and, had been registered by proxy on September 10 — five days before VSC announced that they were considering the sale. The urls currently redirect to a VSC web page which explains the proposed sale of the license.

Well, maybe that wasn’t such a smooth move:

According to [VSC chairperson Mark] Wollaeger, VSC staff registered the domains so that feedback could be sent directly to VSC. Wollaeger acknowledged that in retrospect, he believes that registering the domains was a poor decision by VSC. VSC director of student media Chris Carroll can be held accountable for the registrations, according to Wollaeger.

Carroll has maintained an antagonistic relationship with other college radio stations. In 1991, Carroll shut down WTUL at Tulane University. In 1995, he closed the University of South Carolina’s WUSC.

Besides backtracking, Wollaeger put some pretty stiff conditions that might head off the sale — despite some realities mitigating against the the station continuing online:

One audience member asked Wollaeger if VSC would keep the station if it could generate enough money to support itself. Wollaeger said that the money would have to be enough to not only support WRVU, but all of VSC.

WRVU staff also raised concerns about having to actually pay for music if WRVU became an online-only station. As a top-25 college radion station, WRVU receives boxes full of free music from record labels and promotion companies, often before the release date.

Switching to an online stream format exclusively could mean that WRVU would have to start paying large fees to record labels in order to play music. Wollaeger said the board would research this and take it into consideration.

So it’s back to the spin cycle for the bean counters. Just don’t expect anything to come out squeaky clean in this morass.


2 Responses

  1. […] With current budget shortcomings, Carroll has found it easier. The tactics at Vanderbilt are especially questionable, but with budget deficits it’s not the only college radio station on the chopping block. […]

  2. […] Check out an insightful post on Keeping the Public in Public Radio. […]

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