Radio - Live Transmission
r e g m a u r e r &
r o b m c s w e e n e y
Capon, College Radio Director, WXJM 88.7 FM, James Madison University,
Rock Music Director, WBAR 87.9 FM (www.wbar.org), Columbia University
/ Barnard College, New York, NY
n’ Rob: Where does your budget come from? What kind of fundraisers
do you do?
Mark Capon: Our budget comes pretty much all from the school
and it’s a pretty healthy one. We don’t really do fundraisers,
but we do benefit shows for nonprofit and charity. We sponsor about
fifteen to twenty concerts a year--big and small and of all different
genres. On top of all this, we put on MACRoCk (Mid-Atlantic College
Radio Conference) every first weekend in April, which has about 100
bands and thirty indie labels. It is all independent, all student-run
and this is also in our budget, which is awesome. About 5,000 people
attend and we bring in A LOT of money for this, but we give it all
back to the bands.
Alex Farrill: We get around $20,000 a year from the school,
which makes up our operating budget. It seems like a lot, but some
college stations receive a lot more (WRCT in Pittsburgh, for example,
receives at least twice that). Last year was our first year with a
Fundraising Director position on staff, and we made about $11,000,
which was the most ever, but we spent that on wiring dorms with FM
cabling. We also do small bakesales, garage sales, penny drives and
we sell stuff like t-shirts, cups, and stickers. I’d say the
most important thing you can do money-wise is just to be frugal--don’t
buy paper, steal it; don’t buy t-shirts, silkscreen them yourself.
DIY or DIE! Also, if you can contact alumni, particularly extremely
wealthy alumni, they are often willing to donate money (it’s
tax-exempt after all).
n’ R: How responsive is the college to your requests and
M.C.: Our school is actually pretty supportive of us. Obviously,
we can’t please everyone, being an alternative-thinking radio
station in the middle of nowhere. We have our share of problems with
administration here, but generally they are supportive and understanding
of our cause. We have a lot of free reign.
A.F.: The college basically hates us because they think we’re
ratty punk rock kids who don’t go to class (which is kind of
true). It doesn’t really make a lot of sense because we’re
the largest student group at either Columbia or Barnard, and for all
the bitching and moaning they do about “community” over
here, we’re the best example of a community that exists at this
school. Overall, they make every small thing a painful process, but
we definitely kiss their asses a lot, because you can’t really
do anything without the--sometimes they’ll be really responsive
to you, sometimes they won’t.
G n’ R: How are you involved in getting bands to come
to campus? Do you have any established relationships with local clubs,
venues, galleries, record stores, etc.?
M.C.: Especially because of MACRoCk, we have to be very sensitive
about our relationship with local venues, record stores, booking agents
and bands around the country. We often have a hard time finding venues
to put on shows in Harrisonburg, and we have been very tempted to
pitch fits and cuss out locals who give us the cold shoulder–-but
we have realized that that’s not going to help anything. One
of our goals this year has been to bring as many solid, interesting
and eclectic live shows to Harrisonburg, whereas in the past there
has been a dry spell. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve brought
already this semester–-Of Montreal, AM/FM, Mates of State, Dead
Meadow, Q & Not U, Onelinedrawing, Damien Jurado, Les Savy Fav
and more on the way. All these in addition to MACRoCk!
G n’ R: Does college radio need to cater to an “alternative”
M.C.: I think the hardest thing about college radio is balancing
the desire to have a bigger and better listenership with the desire
to be a truly “alternative” media outlet. We are often
tempted to promote certain bands, labels, businesses, etc. that would
completely go against our reason for being in this community. It’s
hard to do, because having mass rejection for playing “weird”
music is frustrating...but at the same time, those people aren’t
going to hear that music anywhere else.
A.F.: Yes, college radio should offer an alternative to mainstream,
commercial radio. How would you be able to compete with the large,
local “modern rock” station anyway?
G n’ R: What’s your take on Internet broadcasting?
A.F.: While Internet broadcasting seems like the best thing
since sliced bread right now, your congressmen are in the process
of ensuring that access to the Internet “airwaves” is
only available to large, corporate radio stations with lots of money.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has successfully
convinced the Library of Congress to enforce a tax on Internet radio
which will bankrupt most small webcasters and prevent new ones from
going on air. Please visit www.saveinternetradio.org and help fight
the greedy, monopolistic RIAA!