The organization celebrated their first broadcast on Jan. 13
The WCNU team watched on in anticipation during a celebration in the Madison Room here on campus as the first broadcast started. Sounds of Auld Lang Syne were met with cheers from the members of the club. These cheers turned into smiling faces as the song melted into “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen.
After over two years of radio silence, WCNU is back on the air.
For many on the team, this occasion is cause for celebration.
“I’ve been working this since December 2016, so seeing us back on air is amazing,” said president of WCNU Nikhil Sharma.
“It’s very nice to connect to the CNU community creatively again, and it’s very nice to provide that framework for other kinds of people, as well” said Miller Bowe, Vice President and host of the Hamburger Party radio show on WCNU.
The two years the organization stopped broadcasting were anything but silent, however. Filled with research, meetings and asking for help from alumni and friends, the executive board, made up primarily of seniors, worked hard to bring the station back to full broadcasting capabilities.
According to Sharma, Bowe and WCNU’s Business Manager Tyler Melone, the reasons for the stopping in broadcasting were threefold. The first and most easily explainable were technical malfunctions.
“A piece burnt out in a sound board,” Sharma said. “We got it repaired.”
But this “small fire,” as Sharma called it, was only one simple reason they were off the air. The last two reasons were more complex.
“It’s always been a struggle to pay for licensing, software, server space, streaming and it’s a student organization so we’re all poor,” Melone said.
As a student organization, WCNU has had financial limitations that stopped their broadcasting. However, this year they were able to gain needed funds. As of now, the organization relies on money from their own pockets, profits from dj-ing events, grants from the university and generosity from alumni. One such alum, Zach Whitten, the former president of WCNU, donated a portion of the necessary funds to get the station back on air.
This lack of funds, though, was only compounded when it came to the attention of members of the executive board that proper licensing fees were not being paid in years past. Beyond that, regulations were also not being properly followed.
This problem was going to take more than a little fundraising and fixing of a sound board.
“There’s a lot of intricate knowledge of licensing that has changed since the last time we were on air that it was necessary to stop broadcasting to educate ourselves on the intricacies,” Melone said.
During the majority of their time off the air, the organization was educating themselves on exactly how to manage these regulations, many of which had changed since their operations manuals were last updated. They were also learning how to manage certain liabilities.
One such regulation is the performance complement which regulates the amount of songs you can play by one performer during a certain period of time. This was especially difficult to follow in WCNU’s past given their status as what Sharma describes as a “freeform station,” a station that switches from host to host without having a constant overseeing producer. However, given their time and planning on this, they have developed a system which they feel confident.
“We’ve done enough research that we now feel confident we can run a radio station in a legal way,” Melone said.
That said, for many on the team, these problems were not just ones of chance, they were due to the lack of constant leadership for the organization. Lacking a faculty advisor, national board or alumni group, many of these fees, regulations and technical skills are difficult to remain constants in the organization when those that know them are constantly graduating.
“It’s a huge responsibility and it’s really really difficult to understand everything on such a technical level and hand that off to someone that has no training or background potentially and expect them to do everything,” Melone said.
Although they have attempted to find a faculty advisor to ease this particular struggle, Melone shared that they haven’t found the right fit yet.
“The professors we’ve spoken to, whether or not it’s been concerns from past administration of WCNU, there’s also the consistent point that it’s not their speciality and unless it figures into their research or their normal course of work they don’t have strong interest in taking a leadership role,” Melone said.
But even through this, the small fires, the financial limitations, the stress of pouring through complex copyright law, there was something that kept Sharma, Bowe and Melone fighting for the station.
For Bowe, this fight was so others could experience the joy of being on the radio. “Freshman year doing my radio show was probably the most fun I’d ever had. Me and my friend Jeremy would spend an hour just rambling. Even though we didn’t have much of an audience, it was a great experience, and I want people coming into CNU to be able to have that experience, with a bigger audience.” Bowe said.
For Melone, the fight was what kept him going. “WCNU is very hard not to become prideful of. We have this huge thing, we’ve been working really hard for. There has to be a terminus. There’s no point in stopping because every break through is like an adrenaline rush.”
For Sharma, he wanted WCNU to be something important for the University. “I want the administration of WCNU to be hardworking and professional, but I want WCNU to be a center of counter-culture, so to speak. It should be someplace different.”
Through their fight the station is back on the air and has big plans for the upcoming semester. From new shows to events and even to collaboration with other CNU clubs and organizations, they are happy to finally be able to share their organization again.
“We’ve had a long history of almost doing what we’re supposed to do, and we’re fixing that into doing what we’re supposed to do” Sharma said.
The station is currently broadcasting at wcnuradio.com.
Those interested in becoming part of the organization can contact them at their email email@example.com, chat with members during Tuesady Tunes in the breezeway, or drop by the station during executive members’ office hours.