01 March 2008

KSCL Manager Speaks Out

The following is an edited version of an article in Feb 29th's Conglomerate, Centenary College's student-run newspaper. The original is available on their website.

KSCL 91.3 FM, Centenary's radio station, has seen tremendous growth in the past year. Late last summer, we launched a blog and podcast. We've cleaned up our program schedule and posted this online as a Google Calendar. We've produced several interviews and posted them online. We've dramatically increased our education in broadcasting content and presentation. I'm extremely excited to be part of our growth. I'm happy to have influenced it.

While KSCL has become one of the "hippest" radio stations in northwest Louisiana, we have run into many brick walls. One problem has been the lack of support we receive on campus. Student media are often quickly forgotten on campus. SGA* forgets we exist. First-year students barely know anything about us. We're not on the priority list of many areas at Centenary. For the radio station, students pass up opportunities out of apathy or lack of interest, or both. Any student can apply to have a radio show. Any student can check out equipment to record interviews or present their research. We have an international reach with our website and a large physical reach with our FM transmitter. Still, students pass up these opportunities. While this is disheartening, we have other issues.

The largest problem that KSCL faces is a financial one. KSCL received the same amount of money from SGA as it did three years ago, before the upgrade. The upgrade expanded our listener base to the highest number in over 30 years. That's student-run media reaching a potential half-million people. Imagine the possibilities. Yet, receiving the same nominal budget isn't catching us up to our growth.

Running off the same budget has created many internal problems. For instance, we haven't been paying our staff reasonable wages. Our music director regularly clocks forty hours a week reviewing CDs, updating charts, reporting to record companies and promoters, and informing DJs of updates and news. Is it right for us to only pay the music director for eight hours a week (at minimum wage)? KSCL cannot afford to pay the music director more than eight hours a week, even though it's a raise from previous years. We've had to make serious cutbacks, all at the expense of our listeners and our college.

Another example is our ability to stream over the Internet. The chips have fallen into place. The financial resources have not.

After spending a year with these problems hanging over my head, I'm done. I cannot see how the station can grow if the college, and namely student fees, aren't "tuned into ninety-one-point-three." If policies are not amended, expect my resignation. There is no point in running a student radio station for the college if our student-fee percentage isn't allowed to grow when we grow. It is impossible to ask so much of the station's staff while giving so little in return.

The fiscally responsible move for KSCL is to shut down in May and reopen in the fall as school resumes. Shutting down KSCL will hurt the radio station's reputation in the community. This is Centenary's reputation, too. Shutting down the station could also grab the eyes of the FCC, which could mean fines to the college. However, it seems impossible to run the station if there's no hope from the school for the future. I vowed to never close the station, but I see little alternative.

The one alternative I do see is a commitment from SGA to reorganize student fees and distribute them fairly, justifying every penny. This is the only assurance I need to run the station throughout the summer. I understand SGA cannot do anything 'serious' to the student fees this semester, but there is next year. Commitments for the future can be made.

I propose that SGA review student allocations to Homecoming, CAB, the Media Committee, and all other areas receiving student fees. I propose that SGA pay media heads fair wages, as opposed to the sixty-seven cents an hour I currently receive. Student Fees should be justified! As a student, I put blind faith into the hands of SGA to promote this campus and encourage growth at our college.

I'm extremely hopeful for the future. I've put countless hours into KSCL making the best possible radio station for the students, college, and Louisiana. I now leave the future up to my fellow students.

*SGA is the Student Government Assocation on Campus. SGA regulates the majority of student activity fees totally about $115,000 a semester.

I enjoy your feedback, send responses to jschleus@centenary.edu or comment below.
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Sammy said...

Although I partly agree with some of the things said, I think you may be looking in the wrong places for the responsibility to the station. One, the station is getting to the size that it's almost out of "students" hands. SGA can't continue to increase their funding of media in tremendous ways. Centenary is already expensive enough for students as it is. KSCL needs to become it's own entity. I do believe however, that someone at the college should be helping with fundraising, but in the community, now within the school. It's time for KSCL to become the community radio station that it now is. It's time to leave Red River Radio in KSCL's dust (and kissing KSCL's ass). Has any underwriting been done yet?

Schleuss said...

Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate it very much. And the simple answer to your points raised is: well, it's a really complicated matter.

Before I go any further, you'd probably be able to get more by visiting the original article hosted on the Conglomerate's website. As of posting now there's 24 comments on that article with several questions raised and even more replies.

Here are the allocation breakdowns for Fall 2007 (student fees):
Activity Fee/Student $135.00
Number of Students: 849
Total Student Activities Fees: $114,615.00

CAB: --------- $29,799.90 (26%)
Yoncopin: ---- 23,324.15 (20.3%)
SGA-Resolutions: 16,538.94 (14.4%)
Pandora: ---- 12,298.19 (10.1%)
SGA-Office: -- 9,329.66 (8.1%)
Conglomerate: 8,905.59 (7.8%)
KSCL: -------- 6,361.13 (5.5%)
Film Society: 5,512.98 (4.8%)
Fighting Squirrels: 2,544.46 (2.2%)

As you can see, there's a lot of diversity as far as fund distribution goes. I believe that student fees should be lowered, and some of these areas should be reviewed.

As for the community side of things, yes, while KSCL has grown tremendously it is wise to remember the community members that made the upgrade possible. Several donors pushed thousands of dollars to that upgrade. The community is doing its part. My concern is for KSCL's bottom line. What does it take to run the radio station? The student allocations haven't changed and KSCL share of the pie hasn't increased even though we've grown. Imagine a future where the manager can't underwrite or gain money from the community. KSCL would most likely close down for lack of funding. I want to avoid this as much as possible.

And finally (this is all very summarized), KSCL belongs to Centenary College. They own the license. The college creates an amazing environment where students can control the radio station. This promotes the college to prospective donors and students. There is extreme power in student media, one just need to look at NIU for a recent example.

Again, thanks for your support and comments. And check out the congo's website and get into that discussion!