Fans of WRVU and The Best of Bread will recall our story on the Croftons' dismissal from the Vanderbilt radio station back in September. WRVU listeners may also remember questions regarding the station's future raised by both the show's dismissal and the Croftons' claims that station heads intended to pare down the number of community DJs. We were informed time and time again that The Best of Bread's removal was due solely to an equipment violation, and Director of Student Media Chris Carroll implied that there was no movement afoot to dismiss community DJs. Any such decision, Carroll informed us, would be made by the Vanderbilt Student Communications Board. Well, according to an email forwarded to the Scene, said board recently deliberated regarding the number of community DJs, and they've made a decision that will drastically affect the ratio of "non-affiliate DJs" (i.e. non-student/non-alumnus/non-staff DJs) to affiliate DJs.
Earlier this week, it came to our attention that The Mixdown, a show hosted by longtime WRVU contributor and Vanderbilt staffer John Brassil, had been temporarily suspended for an equipment violation similar to that of the Croftons. While we certainly saw this as an unfortunate bit of news, community DJs at WRVU informed us that we might want to hold off on reporting that, as something bigger might be in the pipeline regarding their tenure at the station. And today, an email was forwarded to the Scene from a community DJ wishing to remain anonymous. The email, sent from Vanderbilt student and WRVU general manager Mikil Taylor to the WRVU listserv, detailed the decisions made by the Vanderbilt Student Communications Board, or "the group who owns WRVU." From that email:
The Vanderbilt Student Communications board met yesterday and set a limit of 25 for the number of non-affiliated individuals who may participate as guest DJs at WRVU for the upcoming semester break and 2010 spring and summer schedules.
The board's bylaws stipulate that participation in Vanderbilt Student Media is limited to individuals affiliated with the university. There is, however, a policy that permits the board to make an exception, allowing for a limited number of non-affiliate guest DJs. The number of non-affiliate DJs allowed to participate will come up for annual review at the start of the new academic year.
The VSC board deliberated over this decision and discussed at length its primary mission to serve Vanderbilt students and how that aligned with its appreciation for dedicated non-affiliate DJs who have contributed their time and talent to WRVU. In reviewing the ratio of non-affiliate DJs to student DJs, the board determined it would limit non-affiliate participation to approximately 25 percent. However, the practical challenges of implementing a limitation defined as a percentage of participation led the board to set a limit of 25 individuals out of the roughly 100 DJs currently at WRVU, reflecting the board's mission to preserve opportunities for students, who receive priority. During the fall 2009 semester, about 50 non-affiliate DJs participated in WRVU.
A non-affiliate DJ is defined as one who is not affiliated with the university as a current student, alumnus, faculty or staff member.
There appears to be no policy grandfathering in longtime community DJs. Thus, it looks like both experienced and brand-new DJs will be required to submit via the same application process. Our source also informed us that, as they understand it, this ruling does not mean there will be 25 slots available for community DJ-hosted shows, but rather 25 slots available for the community DJs themselves. Thus, if your show is hosted by four community DJs, that takes up four of the 25 spots rather than just one. We emailed G.M. Mikil Taylor regarding the decision, and he gave us the following response:
There has never been a guarantee for any community DJ's participation at WRVU, under the previous or current board rule. The board has always made some exceptions for participation at WRVU, unlike any other Vanderbilt student media operation, to allow for some community participation. This change only puts a cap on the number of exceptions they can make.
The application process is mainly intended to give the board as much information as possible when making the decision. It won't be used to weed people out, but to choose the best shows, looking at it from many aspects, like what the show plays, how involved the DJ is at the station, and other things. No one wants to create a homogeneous WRVU sound, and I'm going to do my best to keep the highest quality and most diverse shows on WRVU. It's what makes us good.
Applications to be considered as a WRVU community DJ are located here, and they must be submitted "to the VSC administrative suite in Sarratt 135 by noon on Dec. 4."
Needless to say, this decision has raised some interesting questions. Will cutting the number of community DJs down to 25 truly increase room for student DJs? After all, there are spots currently being filled by automated programming. It doesn't appear as though students are clamoring for more spots, and they've (understandably) always had first dibs anyhow. As an extension of Vanderbilt's media department, the university is obviously entitled to run the station however they see fit. But if they cap the number of "non-affiliate" DJs drastically, removing beloved, long-running and well-received shows from their lineup, won't they be losing many members of the community as both listeners and supporters? While WRVU representatives have insisted to us that their decisions are in the interest of the students as well as the community, many non-affiliate DJs have expressed concern that they might be removed from the air simply because the station heads find the number of community members interested in hosting unmanageable.
We'll stay with this story as it develops.