College radio can’t seem to catch a break lately, even in Music City as Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has proposed selling its WRVU broadcast license and switching to an internet-only format. This comes on the heels of San Francisco’s KUSF announcing its shift to the internet after more than 30 years of being on air. In similar outcry to the one that arose following the KUSF announcement, Vanderbilt University’s alumni refuse to stand for the proposition and are protesting the sale of their alma mater’s license.
In September 2010, the Vanderbilt Student Communications (VSC) announced initiatives to move the 50 year-old student-founded station to the internet in order to sell the broadcasting license, which prompted a meeting between the VSC and the station’s staff. In response, 25 alumni wrote a letter to the VSC, followed by a letter backed by 50 alumni to Vanderbilt Chancellor Zeppos, both of which defended the importance of keeping WRVU on the air and not just on the web.
The VSC asked nine questions of the alumni regarding the station to which the alumni stated their case for keeping the license. The alumni made points regarding the station’s educational value as a training ground for those looking to join the broadcasting field, its service to the Nashville community at large and its internet-only format as cost-intensive rather than cost-effective. Moving the station to an internet-only format would also remove the regulations of the FCC, which would give less credit to those training under its influence.
WRVU averaged 28,500 listeners between July and October 2010, making it one of the nation’s top college stations, so the lash out against its sale comes as no surprise. A website dedicated to keeping WRVU 91.1 on air encourages those in support to write e-mails to the VSC and Vanderbilt’s influential community members to express their thoughts on the issue.