Typically in this, my little window to the world, I have been writing about legal and economic issues concerning the music and intellectual property industry. Today I want to narrow my focus on a radio station: Vanderbilt’s WRVU.
VSC (Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc.), the governing body of Vanderbilt University’s student media, recently announced that it is considering moving the venerable radio station to an internet address and selling its broadcast band. The presumptive rationale is that data shows that a large number of college students only listen to radio on the internet.
I am not sure if the student population is relevant here. When I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, we routinely ignored the programming on WRVU, although the station did produce local luminary Fred Buc of Lightning 100 fame during that time. It was only after I graduated from Vanderbilt that I discovered the great service that the station offered the Nashville community. Over the past quarter of a century, I have enjoyed the station’s programming, from blues to bluegrass (“George the Bluegrass show”), from jazz to funk (thanks, Doyle), from honky-tonk (thanks, Heather) to politics (thanks Mary and Freddie), from Ken Berryhill (the world’s oldest country DJ) to 91 Jumps, the Friday morning R&B show (a staple of my listening diet).
I cannot begin to tell you how much new music I have been exposed to on 91 Rock. I first heard some of my oldest friends and clients on WRVU. Nashville first rock scene in the 1980’s would not have happened without WRVU. I was reminded the other day that a bunch of us young (at the time) local music biz types were instrumental in helping WRVU with benefit albums and concerts back in the day. I still discover great new and old music, local and otherwise, on the station.
The idea of listening to radio on the internet reminds me of ham radio enthusiasts using their hobby to dial in strange and wondrous lands. The data be damned. This data ignores most of us adults who, for better or worse, do most of our serious listening in the car while commuting and running errands throughout our day. To ignore such an important facet of the Nashville community seems to be an abdication of the station’s not-for-profit charter, and foolish for a university that already has a difficult time relating to the city at large. We always took WRVU for granted, but it may have been the university’s best ambassador to the Nashville community at large.
For what it’s worth, we should all take a minute to urge Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc. to reconsider this intemperate move. The University is still soliciting public commentary at the bottom of the page of this link: