The ABCs of VSC

According to this post on insidevandy.com, the fate of student radio station WVRU may be in the hands of student board members who are drinking the Kool-Aid of a “student media endowment” as propounded by the station slayer, Chris Carroll. This would be used to prop up print journalism at Vandy, at the expense of student-run radio. Heedless of any reasoned argument advanced heretofore, these cub reporters seem dazzled by some brave new world of journalism — despite the fact, noted here, that more than 25% of journalists have lost their jobs in the past decade. Radio, on the other hand, is as popular as ever, according to industry studies.

As more and more media consumption takes place in digital form, we as an organization need to remain relevant and provide students with skills and training to cover the campus as well as we possibly can. Whether the future means high-definition technology for VTV, enhanced features for InsideVandy.com or multiple online streams of WRVU, as student demands and interests change, we need to be in a place to support them.

Since the start of this academic year, five colleges around the country have divested their radio stations. Unlike every one of those schools, however, all the revenue from a possible sale of 91.1 FM would be invested back into student media here.

This is clueless. They should take their digital heads out if they think that high-definition bull corn will rule the world of journalism. And it’s a tired old assertion that because other schools have dumped their stations, it’s a good idea. We should, then, banish all unions and revert to a benevolent serfdom since Wisconsin is showing the way.

The responses to the article contain many of the same arguments that have been ignored to date by those seeking to cash in on what students have built over the years into a vibrant part of the Music City scene. There seems to be a dogged determination to evade or ignore what has been presented in rebuttal to the overbroad assertions of those wielding the cudgel. Is an unspoken, noisome reason for this equivocation what they perceive as an “undesirable” element associated with this radio station?

so many questions
— if they’re in such desperate need for funding, and acfee hasn’t decreased . . . doesn’t that mean that the hustler ad revenue is down? which means that paper media is the one that’s becoming irrelevant, not radio? — a bunch of the student vsc members are directly involved in the hustler . . . isn’t that a conflict of interest? seeing that the hustler has so much to gain from the sale of wrvu? — wrvu already streams online. i fail to see how it could stand to benefit from being online only, it’s only cutting down on listenership methods. — as previously stated, which colleges have dumped their stations? — HD VTV? what’s the point? i’m sorry, i truly believe in everybody’s right to express themselves, but i have never, ever seen anybody watch VTV. most people i know don’t even have televisions . . . if anything should be on-demand online, it’d be VTV.

Shutting down radio for clearer TV?
HD VTV. Seriously? As an undergraduate, I’ve never seen another student’s TV tuned to VTV. Though I’m completely lacking statistics to support this, I’m guessing that VTV is mostly viewed from the clips posted to the Vanderbilt website, in which case, perhaps VTV should be the outlet switching to a completely online format.

More of the same
From the point of view of an alumni, I think what is most disheartening about this letter is that it does not advance the discussion one iota from where it has been since earlier this Fall.

Alumni and Friends of the station have tried desperately to engage in a public dialog with the VSC Board, yet our efforts are met with answers that they are still deliberating, they are still weighing public feedback, and they feel that they need to explain again the structure of VSC and how it is their decision and how they only have the best of intentions for all Student Media.

Students hold a majority on the VSC Board and the VSC is nominaly a seperate organization from the University, but that doesn’t absolve Board Members of their duties to act in the best of interests of the students that want to participate in media production. Acting in an open and transparent way means letting your stakeholders understand exactly what you would expect to come of a sale.

Alumni and Friends have consistently raised the point that an endownment funded from proceeds of a station license sale would undoubtedly be marginal in size on an annual basis and could probably be just as easily established by developing a rigorous sponsorship and listener support model.

Membership on the VSC Board is not something that lasts forever. Students need to ask themselves whether they feel the Board is doing a good job representing their interests and think about whether it is time for change and new leadership… leadership that will be open and transparent about their vision for supporting and serving students who are interested in media production.

Addenda
Note that none of the student members of the VSC Board have any connection with WRVU. You would think that the VSC Board would have representatives from each of the major VSC divisions — WRVU, Hustler, Commodore, etc. — and indeed that was the case only a few years ago. But this was changed. So there is no official representation of WRVU on the VSC Board. Five students who are all or almost all (I think all, but am not certain) affiliated with print publications like the Hustler will vote along with faculty members on whether to gut WRVU in order to get more money for print publications like the Hustler. Does this seem fair to you? Does this seem like how a decision should be made about the killing of a radio station that calls itself the student-run voice of Vanderbilt University? Do you think that Chancellor Zeppos, as he has done so far, should stand back with his hands raised and say that this decision is entirely in the hands of VSC, which, by the way, gets about half its funding from student activity fees? Do you want your student activity fees going to a VSC whose product has diminished but whose staff remains large?

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2 Responses

  1. […] […]There seems to be a dogged determination to evade or ignore what has been presented in rebuttal to the overbroad assertions of those wielding the cudgel. […] See Keeping the Public In Public Radio for Complete Article… […]

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