Wisconsin college yanks student LPFM off the air

NTC pulls radio station off the air
[Wausau Daily Herald]

The low-frequency community radio station WNRB-FM (93.3) has been taken off the air, Northcentral Technical College officials confirmed.

The station was shut down today after the college’s leadership decided the $75,000 budgeted for the year-old station would be put to better use providing educational and training opportunities in the community.

Station manager Dino Corvino sent out the following e-mail to radio station volunteers who helped to run and provide programming for the station.

“It is with deep regret we share that effective 12 p.m. Thursday, August 31, 2006, WNRB 93.3 FM, NTC’s community radio station, will suspend all operations and go dark.

“As the College moves forward, we must make critical decisions on the services provided to our district taxpayers. This was a difficult choice and one the organization did not take lightly. However, NTC must move forward with initiatives that can directly impact the educational needs of our learners, businesses and communities.

“WNRB and its many volunteers are to be commended for their professionalism and commitment to the spirit of community radio. NTC wishes everyone who has worked so diligently at WNRB the very best as they pursue alternative creative outlets.”

***

WNRB RIP
[by Bill Coady, Wausaublog]
You may have noticed by now the gaping hole in your radio dial at 93.3FM. In a sudden shocking move yesterday, NTC literally pulled the plug on the community station. Today’s story in the Herald states that the college did this because “WNRB is too far away from the core mission of the organization to provide education and knowledge,” according to Melanie Platt-Gibson, Director of Communications and Marketing at the college.

Unfortunately this seems to show a very narrow idea of what “providing education and knowledge” means. Yes, WNRB was not an “educational” station in the traditional sense of the word, but it provided a community voice that can be found pretty much no where else. The station carried Hmong programming every day and programming from Latinos Unidos. There were information shows, humor shows, music shows and alternative health shows. It sounded like “education and knowledge” to me.

Now, I have to admit my bias here, I was a volunteer at the station, and so provided some of the “education and knowledge” such as it was. But I volunteered at the station because I truly believe that community radio offers exactly that: “education and knowledge.” Even if someone produces a purely “entertainment show” on a community station, you will learn something. You will learn what one of your friends and neighbors is thinking and experiencing. You will never, ever learn this on a corporate, playlisted station.

When the station started up, I immediately recognized that NTC had given a great gift to the community. I was also afraid that they, not being a charitable institution, might rescind that gift at any time. Apparently that time is now.

Unfortunately, if the story in the Herald is accurate, NTC has gone beyond no longer giving a gift into the realm of hurting the community.

LPFM licenses are no longer being issued by the FCC (as a practical matter) and apparently NTC has simply turned theirs in. This is a great loss to the community. It would not have cost NTC very much at all to investigate if this license could have been transferred to another community group. NTC could have kept the license and acted as an umbrella to another community group. But apparently the license is gone and now most likely will never be replaced. A local voice may have been lost forever.

If so, that is a shame. And shame on NTC for doing that.

***

[a request for help from WNRB dj Mike Cannon]

With no warning, Northcentral Technical College (NTC) just shut down WNRB which has been running for a year plus. We will lose the FCC license if NTC does not allow us to transfer it, it already may be too late.

WNRB volunteers had no warning that this might happen, and are shocked
when we got the e-mail today telling us not to come in. The studios is locked, and all our CDs and personal items are locked away to.

Please help! contact the NTC President Lori Weyers, PH. D. at weyers@ntc.edu and ask her not to do anything that would put in jeopardy our license. There is no up and coming window to reapply for an FCC license, so if we lose it our LPN station will not be able to bring alternative community voices to Central Wisconsin. OR Lori Weyers PH.D. telephone number is 715-675-3331 ext 1060

Audio PSA

article originally published at .

I am Dino

Dear Everyone,

Just to be clear, I never sent the email. The tone of it was one that the volunteers saw through it instantly. I was relieved of my job, and in that instant the college used my email account to contact the volunteers.

I am sorry that I was not stronger.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey