Save WCDB Weekends

DJ LoFi Lobo exercised some subtle caution on his Twitter account yesterday, stating; “there’s a storm brewing at WCDB..could be tornado, could be drizzle. Stay tuned.”

It has since been revealed that a handful of weekend evening shows have been implicated by a recent decision of the e-board members of UAlbany’s campus radio, WCDB-FM.

The e-board’s majority ruling this past Sunday was in favor to join an agreement with the Albany Legends, the basketball renewal effort spawning out of the now defunct Albany Patroons.  The Legends are not associated with the University at Albany (unlike WCDB, which has been broadcasting at UAlbany since 1978) and are the first minor league team in the Northeast to join the Independent Basketball League.

As per the agreement, WCDB is to broadcast their content during weekend hours Friday-Sunday from 6-10pm, and will unfortunately conflict with the time slots of popular weekend shows.  Weekend slots are prime hours for shows, and are what one student worded as “pre-game music,” and several station members aren’t available at alternative time slots.

Two of the main DJs facing implicated scheduling issues include recent winners in Metroland 2011’s ‘Best Of’ readers’ poll, LoFi Lobo and Deep Children.  Lobo ranked in at #1 Best Local DJ, with Deep Children posted up at #2 for Best Local Club DJ.  In accordance with the building momentum of Deep Children’s new monthly residency at Fuzebox (#1 for Best Dance Club/Dance Night), for one example, the audience has rightfully made it clear it is going to go where the good music is.  That is why WCDB should be concerned about losing some of its highly ranked shows.

Although the agreement with the Albany Legends won’t completely replace programming, (nor is it the station’s intention to do so), there will be times during the semester, such as programming in the Spring and early Summer months, that could result in DJs choosing to take their music elsewhere.  Lobo’s show might not be directly interrupted at this point because his time slot is currently at 10pm, but given the surprisingly strong support of the editorial decision to even entertain such an agreement should have all station DJs aware that their shows and beloved station has the potential to change in the future.

The Albany Legends would act as an agent in helping WCDB to obtain a new listenership in accordance with the new content as well as work with the station in obtaining underwriting.  The intentions of the agreement seem to be good, but is sure to get drowned out along the way.  Especially given the flood of comments on the Facebook event.

The Facebook event, posted by a station alum member, was, for many DJs and WCDB supporters, the first mention and knowledge of the vote and has resulted in many people voicing their opinions and petitioning against the decision.

The college station’s broadcasting mission is to be an alternative to mainstream radio (run by students), avoiding the playing of any ‘top 40’ songs and existing as a place for content that is unavailable on other stations across the airwaves.  WCDB has operated for 33 years within the means of its annual budget, without depending on commercially interested funding support.  Those in favor of this agreement expressed that the station isn’t “selling out” by broadcasting these sports games, but given that the team itself only has one popular connection to the university (the recently signed former UAlbany forward Scotty McRae) there has been speculation of alternate motives buried below the recent vote.

WCDB has been on the hunt for sports broadcasters specifically, but this doesn’t appear to be the answer.  One thing’s for sure — this risk might not be worth the reward.  Sure, Albany Legends will pay for travel and expenses to have two WCDB DJs flown across the US for away games and get incredible first-hand experience with professional sports broadcasting, but is that experience (outside of Albany) worth losing the audience of two local talents that have undergone significant growth in the community’s independent music scene?  Is this new audience of the Albany Legends coverage (the players moms? Who else will be tuning in?) worth tapping into at the expense of turning away WCDB support for DJs who have made WCDB their roots since 2009?

I reached out to Albany Legends CEO Steve Miller earlier today and he responded by ignoring the raised concerns of WCDB members and students alike.  Instead he sent along the organizational, athletic mission of the Albany Legends. (It’s threefold!  For more information, please see www.iblhoopsonline.com.)

Both Miller and the current General Manager for the station, Ryan Farrell, skirted the opportunity to chime in on this matter.  Additionally, Farrell, given his position at the station, abstained from the vote.

The current program director at the station, Andrew White, has expressed that he doesn’t want this to be an opportunity for people to “hate on the sports department,” and that the purpose of WCDB is to “allow everyone to be on the radio no matter what they do.”  The Albany Legends however don’t fill the void lacking in the sports department — and that is coverage of UAlbany sports specifically, after all WCDB is the appropriate outlet for such coverage.

Andrew also stated that if you cant make it to the meeting but want to have input at the meeting to email him at programdirector (at) wcdbfm (dot com).  Andrew vocalized that he would be more than happy to read statements on the author’s behalf at the upcoming e-board meeting this Sunday.

In the meantime, feel free to share with us your concerns or jump into the already existing discussions over on the Facebook page, but for now, guess we’re all just gonna have to take one out of Lobo’s book on this and stay tuned.

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