This section will explain some of the overall philosophy that guides WVAU in an attempt to give you an understanding of the station.
What is WVAU?
In our earliest Constitution/Manual GM Lara Hogan defined WVAU as a 24-hour non-commercial music-based college radio station primarily serving the American University campus and student body. Funding for the station is derived wholly from student fees, as well as addition advertising revenue. WVAU continues the more than 60-year-old tradition of student radio at American University.
Thanks to this definition (and subsequent information) there are a few pieces of WVAU that are strictly set in stone:
“Serving American University”
All WVAU DJs and staff members must be currently affiliated with American University in some way. This includes but is not limited to students, graduate students, faculty members, and staff. Alumni, unfortunately, cannot have shows/work at the station.
WVAU’s music-exclusive programming model is immediately reflective of the liberal arts educational philosophy. By promoting non-commercial music on the radio, WVAU provides a variety of unique musical viewpoints and perspectives intended to bring the listener closer to a “musical truth”: that the world of music is virtually infinite and vaster than a person can hear switching on the radio or browsing iTunes and Spotify top-played charts. Therefore, it is the organization’s duty to excavate, explore, and celebrate the music that exists within this vastness, but may lie a bit below the surface.
Every show on WVAU must be first and foremost a music program. While WVAU does not ban almost any speechthe Executive Board does have the right to remove programming that is primarily sports/politics/gossip/news related. WVAU was created to allow musically enlightened or enthusiastic DJs to broadcast interesting sounds to AU’s campus and the world, for the sake of exposure, thought, diversity, and enjoyment.
College radio is a special thing in today’s musical culture. Unlike commercial radio, college radio is allowed to break the simplified format corporate regulations. WVAU seeks to embody the spirit of college radio and broadcast music that is avoided in other formats.
That said… Shows that primarily focus on music that can be heard on every commercial radio station (current/past pop hits, non-deep cut classic rock or 80s- 90s-and-today pop played on every MIX 102.9 station) will be observed and not put on the schedule.
Of course, there is a little wiggle room in this rule. Used sparingly, there is no harm in playing something that you have nostalgia for or especially love. It is up to the Executive Board to decide exactly where to draw the line though, and the key word is sparingly.
WVAU is open to all students and will not discriminate in membership selection on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, personal appearance, disability, marital status, family responsibility, political affiliation or source of income, or other rights secured by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The History of WVAU
Brace yourself, because I am about to debrief you on a quick history of radio at American University. It’s a frightening tale filled with bureaucracy, fumbling, license problems, hippies, and the internet.
On November 17th, 1947 President Steed Evans (why doesn’t anyone name their kid Steed anymore), Vice President Harry Hites and eleven other students formed WAMC on AM 590. The station consisted of “dramatic programs, forums, fashion events [on the radio?], musical shows and quiz programs.” Time had been specifically set aside for sororities and fraternities. Shows included “A Guy and A Gal” – a soap opera about AU students – and one half hour of Bing Crosby records.
As luck would have it the station shut down after two years of running because of a lack of funding. While the members of the Board had received loans from the Army Corp of Engineers, they had not been able to receive a steady revenue stream, and the costs of the station caused it to collapse. It wasn’t until 1950 that radio was brought back to campus with WAMU (no not the NPR station…you’ll see). WAMU-AM was extremely popular. The station’s most popular show came in 1951 with Going AWOL featuring Willard Scott (later a jovial weatherman on NBC’s “The Today Show”) and Ed Walker, who famously ran “The Big Broadcast” on WAMU. Ten years later, in 1961, the university took over the station and decided to make it into the public radio station WAMU that we all know today as the home to Dianne Rehm.
It wasn’t until the 70s that another student-run radio station sprung up. Known as WVAU-FM, the station didn’t have any control over its music (which was described as “fake Drake rock”). WVAU-FM later became famous for its coverage of student riots and protest in DC. The station got so popular that one of its shows was syndicated for a short time. WVAU-FM lasted until 1987, when AU closed it for renovations.
This is when everything fell apart. AU had decided that WVAU-FM was too costly to be broadcast to be aired all around the city so they decided to move the station’s focus towards the campus alone. After some shakiness WVAU/EAGLE102 was created. Unfortunately before the station could get fully up and running a rash of thefts, the near-suspension of its license for unfair hiring processes (they were dismissed) and the resignation of the General Manager created a collapse of the station. AU college radio was dead during the heyday of radio.
That was 1990. In 1990-91 the station began to rebuild. Still located in the lower back part of what is now the Media Production Center (WAMU was upstairs back then), WVAU installed a low power, AM carrier current in the north and south dorms to replace outdated ones. By 1994 the station was shakily able to support itself. Unfortunately AU had decided to make a costly mistake for WVAU. Even though they promised WVAU a channel on the cable system so that the station’s FM signal could be heard, it hired a company that did not install the channel in the dorms. WVAU was forced to only broadcast on its backup AM channel, which also could not be heard in the dorms. It took a student movement lead by WVAU and The Eagle to get AU to give the station a channel.
The station soldiered on until 2000 when, like the bone thrown from that monkey in 2001: A Space Odyssey, WVAU decided to fly up and become a space station of internet radio. From its young birth as a blogspot page filled with horrible neon green to the present – WVAU has grown as an organization. It now has over 100 DJs and is constantly expanding. Who knows what the future holds for the station. Possibly robots. Maybe death. I don’t know I am not a fortune teller.
WVAU’s Organizational Structure
The Executive Board
This group serves as the committee which runs WVAU. They include but are not limited to: the General Manager, Music Director, Program Director, Web Director, Station Manager, Promotions Director, Events Director, Art Director, and Tech Director.
The General Manager oversees all departments of WVAU and runs the executive board. They serve as the mediator between the organization and AU’s multiple departments. All purchases, event requests, access requests, rule changes, organizational shifts, etc. must be approved by the General Manager. While anyone can apply to be General Manager, this position is usually given to a member of the Executive Board. The General Manager does not have any control over the staffing of different departments (i.e. Music Staff, Web Staff, Event Staff).
The Station Mangers is in charge of the day-to-day running of the station. They keep the station clean and organized, create accounts and maintain the digital library on Subsonic, get swipe access for all the DJs, and oversee the budget. It’s the Station Manager’s job that the Tech Directors have all of the equipment that they need.
The Music Directors (or MDs) are in charge of all the current music on the rack. They work with record labels and promotions companies to get various genres on the rack.They organize a system to review and introduce this music to the DJs. They may be supplemented with specific genre MDs.
The Program Director is in charge of the content of WVAU’s programming. They act as the liaison between the Executive Board and the DJs. They are in charge of creating the semester schedule, training DJs, keeping track of strikes and evaluating DJs shows.
The Web Director is in charge of WVAU’s website, which includes daily editing and publishing of articles. Additionally, they are responsible for promoting web staff’s content on social media.
The Promotions Director works with the Events Director, Program Director, Web Director and Art Director to actively promote WVAU’s programming and events, as well as overall brand and image. They also work with DJs to help promote individual shows.
The Events director is in charge of planning and organizing events for both the campus public and WVAU. This includes concerts, in-studio performances, open mic nights, movie nights, trips outside the campus and anything else they can think of.
The Art Director over sees the visual branding of WVAU and serves as editor-in-chief of WVAU’s zine, The Stream. They create any materials used by WVAU including event art, programming arc art, and merch.
The Tech Directors are in charge of ensuring that WVAU is up and running as well as helping set up for any sound-related events that WVAU has going on. This includes training DJs on the studio equipment and responding to tech problems.
The Music Directors, Web Directors, Art Director, Event Directors, Promo Director and Station Manager all have committees under them to help make their jobs less hectic. These include…
Music Staff- Review new albums for the rack
Web Staff- Write and update content for the website
Zine Staff- Create WVAU’s semesterly zine, The Stream
The WVAU Advisor role is to be filled by a faculty member whose values and ideals for non-commercial radio exist in general accordance with those listed above. While the role of the Advisor may take different forms under different administrations, the Advisor exists to provide continuity between administrations, taking the long-view and helping guide the organization meet long-term goals that may not be accomplished in a single year. The Advisor does not have any vote on the Executive Board, nor does the Advisor have any official power to intervene in decision making on behalf of the organization.
WVAU Executive Board Election Procedures and Official Decision Making Guidelines
In accordance with best practices established and observed over a course of time, voting power within the Executive Board, the body directly responsible for all official decisions and actions made on behalf of the organization, is to be evenly split between each member. Election of new Executive Board members is to be decided by the current Executive Board, with each member entitled to one individual vote. However, this voting method does not apply to decision-making processes outside of Executive Board elections. Power to approve purchases exists in the hands of the General Manager, who can veto any purchase request by a member of the Executive Board. Members of the Executive Board do have the right to overturn a veto, by calling an official vote on the purchase, and winning 3⁄4 of that vote.
The General Manager also reserves the right to remove members of the Executive Board if their actions violate the Three-Strikes policy, or they are unable to perform their duties adequately. In order to remove a member of the Executive Board, the General Manager must call a vote of the Executive Board. Barring the member in question, the removal can only be approved with a majority consensus.
Impeachment and Disciplinary Actions
Although offered as a final course of action for any dispute unable to be settled through Executive Board consensus, any individual with an official role in WVAU (staff member, DJ, Executive Board member) who has not violated the three strikes policy reserves the right to impeach the General Manager. Several actions must be met to do this: 1) Consultation and approval from the WVAU Advisor and 2) A majority vote from the Executive Board in favor of impeachment.
In the case of impeachment, WVAU will hold a standard election process to fill the position of General Manager.
Any member of the executive board or WVAU general body (DJs and Staff members) can be removed from the organization with approval from 80% of the executive board. This can be for any legitimate reason.
Any WVAU member at any public event (including WVAU sponsored events, parties or school function), behaving in a drunk and disorderly way, making others feel uncomfortable, or hurting others, can be subject to disciplinary action if deemed necessary by the executive board. This can result in a strike or greater severity measure depending on the consensus of the executive board.
Constitutional Amendment Process
In order to amend the WVAU Constitution, the Executive Board must hold an official vote, and gain an approval with 3⁄4 percent of the vote.
WVAU Rules and the Strike System
The Strike System
WVAU works on a 3-strike system. If you break one of the main rules as outlined below you will be notified that you have a strike. Here is the way strikes work.
1st Strike – You will be emailed by the Program Director telling you that you have received a strike, the reason for the strike, and a warning not to do it again.
2nd Strike- You will be emailed again by the Program Director telling you that you have received a strike. This time you must meet with the General Manager to discuss your two strikes and how not to receive a third one. This must be done before two weeks have passed since your notification (barring certain special circumstances) or you will receive a third strike.
3rd Strike- You are removed from the WVAU schedule, your swipe access is revoked, you lose access to Subsonic and your timeslot is given away. You will not be able to apply for a show until the following semester.
Exceptions to the Strike Policy WVAU reserves the right to remove any DJ/individual from the air/organization for violations of rules outlined below. Several items listed below will automatically result in expulsion from WVAU, no matter what amount of strikes you have.
1. Intentional Vandalism of WVAU property
2. Stealing/Borrowing without GM permission of WVAU property
3. Breaking American University policies, including but not limited to the use of alcohol or drugs
4. Having a show whose format does not follow WVAU’s music-programming basis
1. Eating or drinking in the studio
WVAU has a lot of very expensive equipment in the studio and we would like to keep it nice. If you need to eat or drink, please do it in the library and remember to throw out all trash after you are done.
2. Missing a show without notification.
You have been given a timeslot with the expectation that you will do your show in that timeslot. If you are missing a show for a legitimate reason you need to inform the Program Director at least 24 hours before your show starts. Sending out an email to all DJs asking for someone to take your time does not count as telling the Program Director. The Program Director has the right to give you a strike if you do not inform them before the 24-hour period.
3. Swearing on air
Though WVAU is not an FCC-regulated station, the organization does need to set up a professional face as the American University radio station. Swearing is not allowed on air unless…
a. It is the name of a band (Fucked Up) or a song (“Yo Shit Fucked Up”)
b. It is in an artistic context such as lyrics or a poem or something like that
c. You are reading a direct quote from someone who is relevant. Your friend’s messages to you do not count.
4. Missing a WVAU all-DJ meeting without notification
You are required to come to these meetings unless you give the Program Director notification 24-hours before the meeting. The same thing goes here as in the case of missing your show. If you have your show during one of these meetings you may choose to do either one, but you need to still let the Program Director know the situation.
5. Not playing rack spins
Unless you are a special case you are required to play either 4 or 8 rack spins during your show depending on the length of your show.7 These songs cannot be all from the same album and you must send the Program Director what you played within 24-hours of your show.
6. Arriving late, leaving early/late from your show without notification
DJs are required to arrive 15 minutes before their show to ensure a smooth transition. If a DJ is noticeable late they may receive a strike from the Program Director. Also, if a DJ needs to arrive to their show late or leave early for a valid excuse they need to inform the Program Director as soon as they possibly can. There is also not an excuse to go over time if there is another show on. Taking time from another DJ can and will result in a strike.
7. Untrained Co-Host
All main co-hosts must have been trained by a member of the Executive Board before they are able to be a co-host. Individuals who are regularly on the program can be considered co-hosts and strikes may be given following warnings.
8. Offensive and inappropriate speech on air
Though this is subjective, a General Manager or Program Director can give a strike to any DJ whose program is deemed offensive on air. For instance, racially/sexually offensive slurs are never okay to say on WVAU’s airwaves, even as a quote. Inappropriate topics, or language that promotes hate or violence towards individuals or groups, need be avoided.
9. Program Director/General Manager discretion
Though a first time offense will receive a warning and not a strike, should these behaviors continue the Program Director or General Manager may feel the need to give a DJ a strike for these activities:
Mentioning how many listeners a program has
Complaining about non-public figures (DJs, friends, professors)
Balancing talk and music.
Associating WVAU with negative content, criticizing another DJ or the station on social media.
It is fine to bring guests onto your show. Bring your roommate, family, band member, boyfriend, girlfriend, or spirit animal, whatever. Remember this, however, any guests that you have on your show are your responsibility and if they break any of the rules you will be the one receiving the strike. Also, as guests they are no trained to be a host of a WVAU program, meaning that theyshould not use any of WVAU’s equipment. Unauthorized use of the board/computers/CD players may lead to you receiving a strike. Also be sure to evaluate how many guests you have on one program. Five is at most the greatest number of people to have in the studio at one time given the space restraints.
Notes on the Rack
The Rack is one of the most important parts of the whole WVAU system. In it is the lifeblood of WVAU’s musical tricks and treats. As a DJ you will get to know the rack well. Let’s begin your introduction here…
What is the rack?
The rack is a continually updated group of new CDs found either in physical form near the board or in digital form on Subsonic. Everything on the rack was sent to WVAU by record labels in order to get their music on the air. Without these albums, WVAU has no way to show the College Radio Journal (CMJ) that we exist and are continually broadcasting new music. Without the constant updates from the rack WVAU simply ceases to exist and our status as an official college radio station (and all the album perks that come with that status) would be revoked.
The Rack Basics
DJs are required to play 4 (1 hour shows) or 10 (2 hour shows) songs from the rack every show that they do. These songs cannot be all from the same album.
It is very rare for a show to be exempted from being required to play rack spins. In order for that to occur the show must be completely designed around a format that prevents any possible rack spins to be played on the show. So far this has included one single format – classical music. If your show is punk, metal, rap, general world or indie this exemption does not apply to you. It also does not apply to shows designed around certain decades of music. Unless it is some 20s ragtime, you can find music on the rack that would work for the format.
Suggesting additions to the rack
If a newly released album is not on the rack presently you can request to have it added. If you can supply an official, legal copy all the better. WVAU can only put on the rack the music that it receives, so if it receives an album from you that could work they’d be happy to put it in the system (they’d be even happier if you wrote a review of it as well). You can also recommend labels for the Music Directors to bug.
Your favorite album/genre not being on the rack is no excuse for not playing rack spins. This is a great opportunity for you to put your own personal touch to WVAU. Get suggesting/contributing!
Every single album on the rack is reviewed by either an Ass MD or its submitter. This may mean that a review isn’t as positive/accurate as you may want it to be. You can do something about it! Submit your own counter review to the Music Directors and they will evaluate it and put it on the album as a response to the original review. It is a great way to get your voice heard.
Thanks for reading! As a member of WVAU, you are expected to uphold the conditions of this constitution.