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Feb 072011

In this episode:

  • THEATRE INTANGIBLE breaks into WRVU for one last in-station show!
  • A VSC BOARD MEMBER calls the COPS!
  • CODY BOTTOMS takes his clothes off for the webcam!
  • Trainee TERRY finds his broadcast voice!

THEATRE INTANGIBLE celebrates our 50th podcast by performing LIVE from our original home 91.1 WRVU fm on the campus of Vanderbilt University. As you might remember, I was kicked off of WRVU and permanently banned from the station. Luckily, my door key scan card still works. I’m joined Theatre Intangible’s first guest ever Cody Bottoms (THE MANPOWER), early collaborator William Davis (OH NO IT’S HOWARD), and ex-host of the also-banned WRVU show GET UP STAND UP Mark Anundson.

Things start off smoothly with calls from champion wrestler Jocephus The Shelby Street Brawler and WRVU’s POCKET NINJAS’ host Amanda Tucker. Things get a bit out of hand when Mark busts out the alcohol, we get a call from VSC Board Member Dick Shell, and a dj trainee hiding in the control booth becomes our “reluctant” guest. We barricade the door with the station couch and hunker down for an all-out siege.

We discuss VSC president Chris Carroll, Director of Student Media Jim Hayes, and since-resigned student general manager Mikil Taylor. Board member Dick Shell calls to complain and lets slip a shocking revelation about the sale of WRVU that you are most definitely NOT going to like.

Featuring call-ins by T.I. participants pimpdaddysupreme, Chris Rauh (Arclyte), Chris Murray and Craig Schenker (Square People), and Joseph Hudson (Dave Cloud). More calls from officer MacBeth, Officer Fritz, Hostage Negotiator Lieutenant McKinley, Amanda Tucker, Tiffany, Kurt, and trainee Terry’s mother Misty.

With music by T.I. participants Tim Kaiser, Ken Soper, Strotter Inst., Leslie Keffer, Anthony William Herndon, DaveX, pimpdaddysupreme, Lawrence Crow, Mark Anundson, and WORLD PREMIERE tracks by Square People Jazz Maturity and Lylas recorded exclusively for Theatre Intangible!

Special thanks to Brad Edwards, Sean Parrot, Ben Sullivan, Melody Holt, Tommy Stangroom, and most especially Jesse Perry. Mark, Brad, Sean, and Jesse are all podcasters too. Check out their many shows, including HAPPY FOR APATHY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARY, and MANGY DOG RADIO HOUR WHOOP-DEE-DOO.

If you like the show, tell a friend or write a review in iTunes. And without further ado, we bring you, the Theatre Intangible 50th Podcast Spectacular!

Subscribe via iTunes

Sep 182010

I’m not going to say I told you so. Vanderbilt Student Communications under the leadership of Chris Carroll wants to sell its FM license and move exclusively to internet radio. (Official VSC press release.)

This doesn’t surprise me. Carroll has already shutdown two student radio stations in his career. The situations are strikingly similar:

The “bomb” at Tulane was a six-week deadline to fix years of neglect. The ultimatum was given one week before finals and coincided with the dismissal of all non-affiliate deejays, people who had been at the station for years. According to many, these deejays were the most knowledgeable members of the staff and their dismissal made the deadline that much harder.

Both Tulane and USC radio staff said Carroll only encouraged students who had an agenda similar to his own. In both cases, students seen as Carroll’s “hand-picked” candidates lost, and Carroll behaved in such a way after the elections that made students believe he was acting out of malice and spite.

At both stations, station managers claimed that Carroll did not communicate his concerns to them until he dropped a “bomb” which forced them to resign, and which led to the dismissal of the executive staff by Carroll.   — “Force behind WUSC shutdown pulled similar coup at Tulane” by Alex Todorovic

The community-DJ cap of last year seemed like the first step of something far more insidious. Selling the FM license is the next logical step before a complete station shutdown. The VSC board cited that its main reason for pursuing a sale was a lack of student listenership. But then board member Mark Wollaeger contradicted that statement in this Nashville Cream article. What is the main motivation? Money, of course.

So why would a station shutdown seem imminent after selling the FM license? I was chief engineer at my college radio station WIDB. We didn’t have an FM license (still don’t). We broadcast through the campus television network and, starting in the mid-90s, through the internet. The lack of the license was the main cause of the station’s many problems, and it was apparent to everyone who worked there. During my tenure, WIDB never had enough DJs to fill its schedule and suffered from low DJ attendance. Advertisers didn’t want to bother with a non-radio radio station. WIDB would do nearly anything to get what WRVU casually wants to toss away.

WIDB has learned to survive as a non-FM station because they’ve been that way from the beginning. WRVU doesn’t know what they’re in for. First, you can kiss community, alumni, and faculty DJs goodbye. The primary reason for getting a show on WRVU is the audience that an FM license guarantees. Next, student DJ enrollment will dramatically decline. The VSC likes to maintain that students come to WRVU for radio education. In reality, they come for the same reasons the non-student DJs come — exposure. And while the board is correct in stating that radio will eventually whither, the sea change is still at least 10 years away. Even if all cars were suddenly equipped with internet radios tomorrow, WRVU still wouldn’t be able to keep its market share as internet only. Think about it. When you scan through FM, you have a few dozen options at best. Internet radio has no such limits. Only the absolute best will have any chance of gaining market share. WRVU is selling its golden goose.

After the DJs leave and the audience dwindles, the VSC board will cite lack of student interest and shutdown WRVU. And they won’t even have the integrity to admit the shutdown was due to the FM license sale. Earlier, I said WRVU didn’t know what they were in for. Let me append that. The VSC board likely knows exactly what it’s in for. This could be all part of a plan. Step 1: Community-DJ cap. Step 2: FM license sale. Step 3: Station shutdown. This would feel far more conspiratorial if it hadn’t already happened twice.

WRVU has a strong community presence, but I have to begrudgingly admit that the VSC board is correct when they say WRVU is not a community station. It is a college station. The sale could actually turn out to be a positive thing for the community if the license went to a true community station. WRFN Radio Free Nashville is the station that most fits that profile. But how likely would they be to get it?

I spoke with WRFN programmer and board member Scott Sanders about the sale. Scott is speaking as an individual and does not necessarily represent the views of WRFN. He had this to say:

WRFN will pursue this as much as a non-profit in this day and age can. Which is to say, not very hard. We do a great job of keeping a low power station on the air but to fork out millions would take a winning lottery ticket or a deal with the devil. It would take someone helping us with extremely deep pockets and that person would most likely need a return of investment at a timeframe that would be impossible to keep without ad revenue and other streams of income. WRFN is more about community building than profit taking.

The license would probably be a separate entity, if for some reason the universe plopped it into our possession. WRFN, as a non-profit corporation would most likely not be able to acquire the license and operate under it without selling ad time (the main revenue stream of radio). This would mean that we would have to set up a totally different corporation to operate a station under that license since non-profit organizations have strict guidelines to follow.

Now, it may not be realistic, but I can envision a community run, community supported station like WRFN (or even under our 501c3). It would be a huge undertaking but would be a really cool Kickstarter idea. People in Nashville that are interested could donate amounts to buy the license and the same people would then use truly democratic procedures to operate a radio station. Pipe dream I know, but it would be a great coup against the powers that want to monetize and materialize everything they see.

If the FM license is put up for sale, what will the buyer competition be like?

It’s hard to say what the competition will be like. As you already know, radio stations are having to cut jobs on all sides: mostly on air DJs. They automate just about everything at full power commercial stations now. So again it would have to be some deep pockets that buy it. I don’t think there are any local media companies that would have a shot compared to the big ones like Cumulus or Clear Channel but I think a smaller media company would be more interested than one of the media giants because a smaller corporation might want a presence where they have none. Despite the strong influence of satellite radio and internet radio, competition will still be strong because there is no more room for full power stations in the Nashville market or any other major market for that matter and that rarity makes it valuable. I could see a company snatching up the license, building a brand and an advertising base and then selling the station for a profit to a larger conglomerate.

All that said, Vanderbilt would be best off keeping the license and using it, though I think as a non-commercial station they should be more community involved. That’s just my personal opinion. Radio is not dead and it is still a very viable and egalitarian medium that people still use concurrently with other types of media.

As the Nashville Cream article reported, Radio-Info.com speculates that the buyer could be contemporary Christian conglomerate K-Love parent Educational Media Foundation. If not them, then the buyer will be someone with deep pockets, as Scott Sanders suggested. The last thing Nashville needs is another Christian or Country station.

If you want to express your disapproval, you can write to the VSC board at the following address, but VSC has already proven that they don’t listen to community members. They ignored the vast popular consensus that the community DJ cap was a very bad idea. If anyone has the power to affect this decision, it is the students. Guys, its in your hands.

VSC Board of Directors
2301 Vanderbilt Place
VU Station B 351669
Nashville, TN 37235-1669

Feb 042010

Have you tuned into WRVU lately and noticed something strange?  You keep hearing the same songs and a whole lot of “Hi, I’m <insert burned-out musician> and you’re listening to WRVU” promos, but missing are actual live voices?   That’s because you’re hearing computerized-automation.  Because of the recent community-dj-cap, there are quite a few holes in WRVU’s schedule.  10am-2pm Tuesdays? Automation.  10am-1pm Wednesdays?  Automation.  12am till your hangover ends Friday and Saturday nights?  You guessed it — automation.

Surely this is an opportunity for WRVU to admit their mistake, beg forgiveness, and welcome more community-member dj’s back into the lineup.  Surely that’s what they did.  Let’s see how Programming Director Mike Fagan handled the schedule gaps in a letter to the staff:

Staffers, I would like to open you all to request a second show, or an extension to a show if you would like in one of the open slots. To view the open slots, please see the online schedule on the website. If your show borders an empty hour and you want to extend into unoccupied time, you may do that. You can also have a second show in one of the empty spots if you would like(1-2 hours). If you want to do either of these things, please email me the following: Current Show Name DJ Name Extension? New Show Name Requested Time Slot(s) Requests will be handled first come first serve. Please only request one additional show or extension for now. You may give multiple possible slots, in case the one you want gets taken before the online schedule is updated, but you will only get one. Thanks, Mike Fagan — Regards, Program Director WRVU 91.1 Nashville 615-322-FM91 (Tel.) 615-343-2582 (Fax) wrvupd@gmail.com

Oh fuck.

That’s right, instead of allowing more of the community-member dj’s back on the air, he’s asking the current dj’s if they want another show.  WTF?

I’ve stopped thinking this is simply inept management at WRVU.  These guys actually get some type of sadistic pleasure out of torturing their former dj’s.

One more reason to support WRFN  Radio Free Nashville . . . and, of course, the shows now doing podcasts.  🙂

Addendum 2-04-10 5:13pm:  I should point out this probably isn’t the fault of Programming Director Mike Fagan, and we shouldn’t blame him.  Likely, this decision came from the General Manager and/or the board of directors.

Relevant posts:
~ORE~ Theatre Intangible and WRVU
An Open Letter to WRVU
WRVU’s removed community shows and where to find them

Dec 292009

I just updated my Open Letter to WRVU with links to as many removed community-member shows as I could find, and I thought I would post them again here.  I hope to continually update this post when new information comes in.  If you’re a dj for one of the shows below, please e-mail any updated info to tony@theatreintangible.com or just write a comment below.  Some of the community-member shows are moving over to Radio Free Nashville.  Others are are becoming podcasts.  Check back often to find news about your favorite show.

My apologies about the lack of information on some shows.  If there was any information Google-able, I put it here.  If you have more information about a show, send it my way.

The Best of Bread — Irreverent, balls-out, and genius.  Permanently banned because the host moved a web cam.  Has a new home at Nashville Cream as the podcast The Chris Crofton Show.
The Pajama Bar — DJ Naphtali’s journey into the Theatre of the Mind.  Pajama Bar could always be counted on for it’s thoughtful content & tight production quality.  Not renewed after alleged “snarky” e-mails.
The Mixdown — Suspended for a semester for moving a web-cam.  DJ John Brassil was one of the few people at WRVU that stuck up for my when my show was cancelled, much to Mikil’s dismay.  For that I owe him my gratitude.  John organizes the most excellent experimental review Buzz & Click each year.  When The Mixdown returns, it will be the only show playing occasional experimental music on WRVU (as far as I am aware).
Get Up Stand Up — Permanently banned for an episode that criticized WRVU’s dj cap.  Ironically, the host was resigning anyway (before the community cap results) and it was his intended final show.  Hosted by comedian Mark Anundson, Get Up Stand Up was the funniest (and one of my favorite) shows on WRVU.  Follow the link to check out the Mark’s most excellent blog Happy for Apathy.

Shows not renewed due to community dj cap:

Best Show Ever
Big Poppa’s Underground “Big Poppa has given the local rock scene a voice and an outlet in which they can be heard.” -Music City Mel, Publicist
Cat Beast Party – I regret that I have not heard this show, but luckily I can now listen via their new home on 107.1fm Radio Free Nashville Saturdays from 1-3pm.  Host Angie offered me some kind words when ~ORE~ was yanked from the air.
Dia Logos
Everything Else
Genre Blender
Global Eclectic
Global Rhythm
The Gummy Soul Show A soul review with a very nice-looking blog.  DJ Josh once had the slot right before Theatre Intangible, and he was kind enough to put up with the occasional throngs of guest participants that invaded the  station for our show.
Hi to Mom & Dad
The Inconsiderate Mixtape This great show has a killer blog with an innovative idea: “The goal of this blog is to share music i love with all i can. Primarily, i will be going through my cd collection alphabetically and writing about the albums i think you should all go buy immediately.”  You can also download WRVU-era and new episodes as podcasts.
Jazz Plus
Laser beam & Hurl City
Magical Mystery Show A revolving theme show. “Each week we select a theme, a genre, a scene, or an important period in musical history and discographize it. The well can never run dry in this massive world of music.”  You can download podcasts via the link above.
Nashville Mixtapes A fine show with an excellent blog about music.  Nashville Mixtapes has applied to wrfn and will premiere a podcast in January.
Needles & Pins Host Laura has quite the knack for programing Rock N’ Roll music that just makes you feel good.  Needles & Pins will be back as a podcast (and possibly on Radio Free Nashville) very soon.  They’ve been my Twitter buddy in these dark WRVU times.
Night Goat
Pickled Beats
Pimp’s Jukebox
Pocket NinjasThe best in indie, electronic, and asian rock!”  Oh, man, where do I start?  Pocket Ninja’s was the show that preceded mine during Ore’s premiere semester.  These ladies love music passionately and intensely, and I always looked forward to saying hi when I arrived at the station for my show.  As far as I know, Nashville no longer has a show that embraces Asian music and culture.
Positive Spin
Say Yes! to Music
Shalom Nashville — “A blend of non-mainstream Jewish and Israeli music worldwide, intriguing trivia questions and uplifting spiritual injections.”
Surface Underground A show about “bringing to light a slew of fantastic artists who are part of a blossoming scene in Nashville.”
The Switch is On
Toilet Wine
We Own This Town — Why WRVU would remove this show is totally beyond me.  Joe Baine Colvert & crew are tireless supporters of local music.  You really need to follow the link to check out their first class blog.  Subscribe to it to stay up to date on local concerts.

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