Wednesday, September 19

I Watched My Radio Show Die Today

Today my radio show died. A year-and-a-half of building The Greenlight District on Cleveland's airwaves went down the tubes today. It's not because myself and my co-host don't care any more... it's because the station manager felt that allowing a computer to schedule a "formatted daytime program" would "significantly increase workplace listenership during the workday".

Apparently I missed the memo that said college radio stations are now the same as crap commercial ClearChannel frequencies.

When we started our show in the 3-5am time slot on Thursdays we didn't expect much of a response. Cleveland had another idea though, and soon enough phone calls came in from listeners all over town who loved hearing genuine human beings on the other end of the airwaves. It's been awhile since Cleveland radio contained messages about peace, freedom, love and acceptance... for far too long in fact the only messages have been about consumption, war and 'ten-cent wing night'. It's my belief that the human brain can only accept so much insincere dribble as what flows from the mouths of on-air DJs before it begins to reject them, to hate them. We offered the alternative - we invited our listeners into the studio with us to hang out, to feel free, to discover new and old music they may never have heard before. And we were rewarded for that sincerity in each of the fund-raising rounds that The Greenlight District was a part of. Our show grossed some of the highest receipts, not just because of our talent for obnoxious panhandling... but because of the diversity of our audience. We pride ourselves on breaking the established rules of radio, from our off-kilter music selection (imagine 1950's pop followed by 1990's gangsta' rap) to topics of conversation rarely breached on commercial stations (gay rights, religious overreach, crappy music on the radio). We don't accept labels for ourselves and our interests, and our show reflected that in the variety we presented and our refusal to be shoe-horned into the standard "[Fill In The Blank Musical Style] from [Boring Old DJ]".

That's all over today. The status of our show has been up in the air for two weeks now. Our time slot was rolled into the fascinating new 'formatted airtime' dreamt up by the station manager (one Mr. Mark Krieger, faculty at John Carrol University). Apparently ratings are the king of non-profit, non-commercial, non-NPR affiliated public radio stations... except that they aren't. The radio station's mission statement lists this major aim:

... the consistent delivery of unique and diverse radio programming that serves the interests of both the university and surrounding community. WJCU attempts to meet this goal by offering an eclectic mix of music, sports, poetry, ethnic, informational and public service programming not found elsewhere on the dial.
They are now failing the community, the legacy of WJCU and the local DJs who've devoted endless hours to providing alternative, entertaining programming to the community. The introduction of playlist formatting, of canned DJ spots (limited to rotating blocks of 10, 20, 30 & 48 seconds) among other changes severely limits the impact that this public institution can have on the community. The scatter-shot style of student-run radio is it's essence, the reason it's successful.

Sorry Mr. Krieger, but Clevelanders aren't going to tune in to more of the same corporate-styled playlists and computer edited DJs.

The music just got a bit quieter in Cleveland...


Anonymous said...

WRUW hasn't died yet. See if you can get Case to let you do a show; they might since you're a college student in Cleveland.

Chox said...

You know what, the rumblings of this latest debacle were detectable in 1990 when the call letters were still WUJC. So long as there are fucktards in charge at 88.7 (which has been the case since, oh, 1990) they're going to run the station into the ground. Just remember John Carroll is a Catholic university.

I agree with anonymous...see what WRUW has to say. You have an awesome show offering something entertaining AND unique, which is simply nonexistent above 91.9 MHz. Hopefully, however, they won't consider your show too "mainstream" (which it isn't) but sometimes they can be a bit snotty over in the basement of the Mather Memorial Building.

So in a nutshell, fuck those fucks. Do your thing. And remember...podcasts reach much further than Northeast Ohio.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments. Stretch those wings - be a Who - keep shouting "We are here! We are here! We are here!" - whether it's on WRUW, or a podcast, or something.

I've never heard your show - I live in California, in fact - but I have long been a fan of college radio; since I was in Jr. High, to be exact. I would click on my radio late at night after my parents were asleep and listen to the college music/talk I probably shouldn't have been listening to UNEDITED, thank you...discussions about sex and politics. It was wild.

This is my first visit to your blog - but it won't be my last. I hope to read that you're back on the air - in one form another!


A Who from the Bay