by Steve Haruch
In last week's Scene, I sorted through recent goings-on around the possible sale of WRVU's broadcast license. (If you haven't been following the story, here's the skinny, briefly: Vanderbilt Student Communications, the independent body that operates WRVU 91.1-FM, is exploring a sale of the station's broadcast license in order to establish an endowment that would fund all Vanderbilt student media, including what would be an online-only WRVU; some people think that's a terrible idea. More on that here.) In that piece, I make reference to a list of questions sent out by VSC director of student media Chris Carroll:
... a list of questions that, presumably, the board would consider as it mulled a possible sale. Among them: "Is there an immediate alternative to fund an endowment?"; "Are there likely alumni or other donors willing to match or substantially match the sale offer?"; "Is the revenue potential presented by retaining the broadcast license equal to or greater than the offer?"; "Would the learning experience for students affiliated with WRVU differ substantively if the station's programming was online-only?" While the board has not released any answers, a group of WRVU supporters tells the Scene they're preparing their own item-by-item response, to be made public at www.savewrvu.org later this week.
Today, WRVU supporters posted their responses to Carroll's questions, at some length. Here's one:
2. Is the revenue potential presented by retaining the broadcast license equal to or greater than the offer? Are there changes that could be made to WRVU programming or management that would result in substantial underwriting income? What would be the probability of success of such an effort?
It isn’t clear exactly what the Board means here by “revenue potential.” WRVU is a “not-for-profit radio station.” By federal law, which is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the purpose of WRVU is to serve the community through quality programming, not to generate income. Although station underwriting is allowed, direct advertising sales are not. WRVU underwriting programs that have supported the station since the 1960s have not been utilized under the current VSC management, despite the fact that one new VSC professional staff position (Advertising Director) was created specifically for such a purpose at a current annual salary of approximately $70,000.
From underwriting campaigns to benefit concerts to membership drives, there are many funding possibilities for radio station WRVU that have not yet been explored. We believe that at least some of these possibilities have great potential.
Read the entire response at Save WRVU. In other opposed-to-the-WRVU-sale news, the Vanderbilt chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, the national music fraternity, issued an open letter to the VSC board, which reads, in part:
Our fraternity stands for the advancement of music in America and a loyalty to the alma mater. We believe that the sale of WRVU’s broadcast license is in direct conflict with these ideals because it prevents Vanderbilt students from being able to share their musical visions with a larger community and student audience. In addition, the dissolution of WRVU as a broadcasting radio station removes from the city of Nashville one of its only outlets for the work of lesser-known independent musicians, who are, as a group, underserved in the artistic community.
PMA join the Blair School of Music among the ranks of the open letter-writing Vanderbilt organizations opposed to the sale. If anything, public awareness of the issue seems to be at an all-time high, and if the crowd in attendance at the benefit show at Exit/In the other night is any indication, support for 91 Rock has spread far beyond so-called alternative media types.