Dec 152009
 

Hey guys,

I am working on an open letter to WRVU about the recent community-member dj cap, and I thought I would provide the following for some perspective.  I wrote these words on the ~ORE~ Myspace page one week after my show was banned from WRVU.  It’s no honor to be the first show of 28 to be banned, cancelled or suspended in a 4 1/2 month period.  I don’t mean to lump our show into the travesty that is the community-cap.  I don’t agree with our dismissal, and I think the general manager’s philosophy advised both decisions; but the decision to cap the community member shows is a separate issue.

However, hearing how Chris Carroll (director of Vanderbilt Student Media) thinks all community-member dj’s are punks and that Mikil finds us to be a hassle to deal with (scroll down to the comment from Donnie Oldschool),  I look back in hindsight and wonder if that’s partially my fault.  When ~ORE~ was banned, my show’s participants and listeners really gave them hell.  They sent e-mails, wrote letters, and called Mikil, Chris, and other VSC members, complaining about ~ORE~’s cancellation.  We had really built a community of outsider artists — friendships were forged, relationships made, experimental bills booked.  For that to come crashing down, especially in a town where so precious few outlets for experimental/avant garde music existed — that was too much to take for the artists who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into ~ORE~.

Not long after that, Chris Crofton lost his show The Best of Bread.  That made it on the Nashville Cream blog, and all hell broke loose.  It’s no wonder Chris Carroll finds community member shows such a pain.  In our defense, the complaints from our and Chris Crofton’s listeners only began AFTER they removed us off the air.

More to come in my open letter to WRVU.  Here’s my original blog about our show’s cancellation:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

~ORE~ Theatre Intangible was banned from WRVU for last week’s show “Get It On With Dave Cloud.” The show featured legendary Nashville performer Dave Cloud playfully flirting with callers as a live band accented his spoken stylings. In short, it was a brilliant show. WRVU strictly enforces a rigid policy on sexually-suggestive material. To play it safe, I “bleeped” multiple sections of the show as they aired (we have a three second air delay).

The next day, I got a letter from the general manager, informing me that I was no longer welcome at WRVU. I later learned that he had listened to the RealAudio archive of the show, which bi-passed the delay equipment, therefore also bi-passing all my bleeps and exposing the show for all it’s raw glory. He heard what the radio audience didn’t hear. When I pointed out his mistake, he refused to take the evidence into account. To this day, no one at WRVU has made any attempt to obtain a broadcast version of the show to prove what was really played.   They’re acting like the key piece of evidence is immaterial.

I am including the actual letters at the bottom of this blog. You can also check out Startling Moniker’s blog about it.

Here are the original e-mails between Mikil Taylor, paid student manager of WRVU and myself.  Pay close attention to the tone of his e-mails.

Hello Tony,

It has come to my attention that some serious programming violations occurred during your show last night, violations I have verified. As you should have known, DJs are expressly prohibited from making sexually offensive comments on air, or knowingly allowing such comments to occur. Thus, I have no other course of action than to remove your privileges as a DJ at WRVU. Please note that you are no longer able to enter the station, and are no longer welcome at WRVU.

Thank you,

Mikil Taylor

__________
Dear Mikil,

I completely understand that you must deal with callers complaints delicately and respectfully. However, I do believe I deserve a chance to defend myself before you reach this decision. Please hear me out, and if you should still decide to remove my show, I will go willingly.

Please let me know what the specific charges are against my show. I will do my best to answer them sincerely and honestly.

Whether you choose to hear me out or not, please send me a reply stating that you received this. If you choose to not hear me out, please give your reasons.

Sincerely,
Tony Youngblood

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Hello Tony,

I have listened to your show from last night, and it mostly dealt with the guest DJ Dave Cloud. The violations of good taste and community standards are too numerous to count, but, just to name a few, there were instances of a caller talking about being pregnant despite only having sex “in the back door”, callers who appeared to be masturbating while Mr. Cloud read his erotic material on air, a caller asking about their yeast infections while Mr. Cloud asked if there was a foul odor emanating, mention of the naked, nubile young women who all wanted to talk to the DJ, and many many more violations. As you should know, you are completely responsible for any and all guest DJs appearing on your show, and you ignored your responsibility… Thus, your show has been removed from WRVU.

I do not believe that there is much to defend. Station policy has clearly been violated, and you must bear the consequences.

Thank you,

Mikil

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Dear Mikil,

I appreciate your prompt and detailed reply.

The only conclusion I can draw is that you must have reviewed the show from the RealAudio archive, which is not routed through the 3 second delete button in the signal chain. I know this because all of the examples of violations you mentioned were deleted by me with the 3 second delete key. I just listened to the archive to confirm that it does not delete the deleted sections. I also just called a friend who listened to the show via radio, and he confirmed that the sections WERE deleted in the radio feed. Another friend recorded portions of the show from his radio, and I can try to get a copy to prove when the delete key was hit if you’d like proof. This also suggests the very-disturbing possibility that every hit of the delete key in recent station history goes through the RealAudio link uncensored.

Every other week my show is a live freeform improv. I attempt to showcase the provocative, the original, and the groundbreaking,.. but never the inappropriate. Most of the weeks, the improv is instrumental with no voices; but on rare occasions I develop a concept that involves voices. This particular show was intended to be a simple call in show with a very fascinating and interesting personality. Dave Cloud is somewhat of a local legend. If you’ve ever seen him perform live, you know how entertaining and challenging his act can be. I was attracted by his colorful character and thought he would make a fascinating participant. I very rigorously counseled Dave Cloud and the other performers before the show about what was appropriate material. I even brought up the story of the DJ’s who got kicked off the air because of discussing a “dirty sanchez,” telling my guests that it wasn’t enough to not say the 7 dirty words, that they must also not make sexually suggestive remarks. That being said, a live call-in show is much more difficult to control than a dj set. Early on I could see things were getting out of hand. I had two options. I could end the show early and dismiss the guest performers or I could ride the 3 second delete key. I chose to ride the delete key. If you had an air-copy of my show for review, you would see that I used the delete key at even the smallest hint of inappropriateness.

The delete-key notwithstanding, you might say that the more prudent decision would have been to end the show early or avoid a call-in show with such a risky guest. You would be correct. That is, of course, much easier to see in hindsight. Still, I made an error in judgment, and for that I am sorry. However, there is a big difference between an uncaring dj who has no regard for the rules and a rule-abiding one who made one mistake out of a hundred shows and tried to correct it.

I have been a dedicated and contributing dj for over two years at WRVU. No one values their show more than I do. I always take great care to leave the station in better condition that I entered it in. I contribute headphone adapters, ipod adapters, and mic clips when the station ones go missing (as they seem to do quite often). I pride myself in delivering a niche of music that is not otherwise being represented and in witnessing a growing experimental community that I helped build. I would never intentionally jeopardize that which means everything to me.

I was chief engineer at my college radio station WIDB in Carbondale, IL. I understand that complaints must be taken very seriously. When the station license is at risk, one must err on the side of caution. Better I lose my show than WRVU going off the air. Still, I stand by my claim that you cannot judge the over-the-air contents of my show by review the RealAudio feed (which does not preserve the muted sections). For proper review, we really need to hear an over-the-air copy. Yet, I could have used better judgment. Therefore, I suggest a compromise. Suspend me for a month, a semester, even a year if you see fit. It would be a hardship, but much less distressing than losing my show entirely. If a complaint was made, the complainer would be appeased; and I would be able to return to my show with the commitment to never let something like this happen again.

My show is not only valuable to me, but it serves a vital purpose in the community. It is a refuge and a conduit for experimental, avant-garde, drone, noise, and outsider musicians in the community. If it comes to it, I know I can count on support from participants, community members, and fellow WRVU dj’s with letters and e-mails addressed to the WRVU staff and advisers.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best,

Tony

______________

Hello Tony,

I did review the archive copy of your show, but I received the original complaint from a radio listener. Any time someone feels that WRVU is offensive enough to warrant a complain to me, then it likely warrants a complaint to the FCC. Those can not happen.

I understand that your show makes a point to sometimes veer close to the line, but in this case it went way overboard. Had it been a small and slightly risque comment that slipped out, I could be a little more forgiving, but in this case it was an hour devoted to making sexually inappropriate comments. I do appreciate you trying to correct the problem with the delete key in-studio, but it seems to me like trying to stop a flood by dropping leaves in, one at a time. Some inappropriate material got through, and unfortunately the consequences are severe.

Thus, I am withholding (sic) the termination.

Thank you,
Mikil

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It is simply unfair to terminate me without hearing the actual air-broadcast. You cannot verify what the listen complained about without hearing what the listener heard. By listening to the archive, you clouded the evidence pool with things that did not make their way into the air broadcast. Whether you ban me or not, the delay absolutely NEEDS to be placed before the RealAudio feed.

>>But in this case it was an hour devoted to making sexually inappropriate comments.

If you listen to the air-broadcast of the show and still reach the conclusion that it was simply “an hour devoted to making sexually inappropriate comments,” then I have failed in my attempt at absurd radio theatre. I never intended it to be an hour of sexually inappropriate material. But I again stress that I am not an evil careless dj trying to undermine the station policies. I made an honest mistake, and I’m trying to correct for it.

>>I do appreciate you trying to correct the problem with the delete key in-studio, but it seems to me like trying to stop a flood by dropping leaves in, one at a time.

How do you know? Have you heard the radio broadcast? Maybe it’s a honeycomb of holes with no offensive content making it’s way in. You can certainly make the case that such a show would be confusing and uninteresting, but that’s hardly a reason to ban a show.

Would you like me to apologize on air? I’ll do it. I’ll do anything you ask to make this right.

I find that sometimes e-mails don’t translate properly and that things can unintentional escalate. If you are willing, I would like to discuss this in person. When would be a good time that we could meet up?

Sincerely,

Tony
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Hello Tony,

What the listener reported was enough to revoke your show privileges. Since I also heard that on the audio stream, I have verified that the infraction did indeed take place. All of the other inappropriate parts of your show may have been deleted, but at least one slipped through, and your show was offensive enough to warrant a complaint.

I do not think there is anything that meeting in person would accomplish or change, as I have made my final decision. I’m sorry it had to come to this, but I must uphold the ban.

Thank you,

Mikil

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There it is for what it’s worth.