Radio Station Nearly Pushed to the Edge

A photo taken outside of WFNP’S radio room located in the Student Union Building. The station has recently seen a cut in their budget which has also resulted in a cut of staff. Photo by Rob Piersall.

Last semester, WFNP: The Edge, the college’s radio station, lost nearly all their funding after failing to submit the proper paperwork to continue acting as an existing club on campus. 

In turn, they were forced to register as a “new club,” where they only received a $2,000 budget for the semester. Naturally, they blew through it quickly. This is a huge step down from the $36,000 annual budget they were operating under prior to the paperwork mishap. 

After presenting before the Student Association board, they were able to recoup nearly $12,000, which was paid to Lightower Fiber Networks, a provider of telecommunications and wavelengths. This ensured that they were paying their contractual obligations to stay on 88.7 FM as to not violate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.

However, there were a number of services the radio station relinquished after losing a substantial amount of their budget. Additionally, the money they lost was recirculated back into general programming. This is money other clubs can apply for and receive. 

While we at The New Paltz Oracle acknowledge WFNP needed to charter, we believe the SA are responsible for spending money that is in the best interest of students. Stripping the radio station of important features and recirculating their money back into general programming for clubs who don’t necessarily need it as much is frustrating.

With that being said, the club’s executive board no longer receives monthly stipends and there is no longer an online stream meaning their broadcasts can only be found on terrestrial radio. Additionally, they had to lay off their daytime DJs, who streamed exclusively online Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They can also no longer have listeners call in as the phone lines were put out of service and if any equipment breaks, they have limited funding to fix it. 

In 2018, having an online stream is imperative. This is a dual blow, not only because they had to layoff their daytime DJs but because now the radio station’s only reach is local. 

Daytime DJs, in the past, would get a chance to learn the soundboard and be able to see the ins and outs of how the radio station operated before ultimately moving on to a nighttime slot where they could hit the actual airwaves. Having an online stream also ensured that people, wherever they were, could tune into the broadcast. Their reach went far beyond just the Hudson Valley. 

This could also negatively affect the radio station in the future, because now they are working with a substantially smaller crew of DJs. With daytime DJs in the past, it was easy to make a seamless transition to the nighttime because they already had the proper experience through the radio station. There are less spots to fill and less wiggle room. There are less people to choose from with adequate, experience because they just can’t get it anymore. 

Since there are now less slots to fill on the radio’s broadcast, there are less opportunities for people who want to pursue radio or digital media production and.or communications as a career to gain experience. The importance of clubs such as WFNP: The Edge, The Oracle and NPC-TV is to build skills to take into the real world. Many people who have graduated from New Paltz and have partaken in the media house clubs have gone on to have successful careers in those respective fields. 

We at The Oracle understand the importance of submitting charters for organizational and SA purposes, but losing nearly an entire budget and having your club set back for forgetting a simple task is a harsh punishment. While other clubs were also penalized, not every club requires the same amount of money to operate. The New Paltz Oracle also had similar technological issues submitting the charter and had we failed to resubmit, we would have also lost the majority of our budget and our ability to publish and distribute our newspaper.

The process for submitting the charter was not particularly user-friendly last semester and though it has been improved to avoid submission issues in the future, the damage has already been done. Although it is a simple task, which we acknowledge, WFNP: The Edge should have been able to meet, we believe there should have been more leniency.

The radio has a broad reach from students, faculty and staff and Hudson Valley residents alike and has been around for nearly 50 years; operating on a large platform that requires its employees to treat it like a job, not a club. Organizations such as The New Paltz Oracle, NPC-TV and WFNP: The Edge dedicate countless hours to our jobs and put out a product that caters to audiences beyond the student body. Every student is required to pay a mandatory fee that goes towards these clubs and to see such a prominent organization on campus lose such a substantial amount of its budget is upsetting. 

While there are different designations for clubs on campus, such as Tier 1, Tier 2 or service, different clubs should be viewed different in the eyes of SA. Although all clubs are important to the student experience, the media house clubs have their own offices and benefit both the members and the community. 

At the end of the day, we understand that WFNP: The Edge could have rectified the issue of their lack of charter form had they attended the bi-weekly Council of Organizations meeting in which SA listed the clubs that were to see them regarding their lack of charter submission. However, this is student’s money being used to fund clubs and it should be used in the most feasible way possible. 

The two offices also coexist on the same floor and some communication could have been made from either side to help solve the problem before radio took this big hit. 

Better communication must also come from within. The radio station must train future members to make sure all the proper steps are taken to exist on campus without problem. The same can be said for SA who had a huge staff turnover with a lot of members having to learn on the fly. Should they be taught and trained correctly, these issues will be mitigated; same goes for any other club or organization.

However, the problem still remains. Even if they are able to regain their budget in its entirety for the next academic school year, it will takes semesters upon semesters and hours upon hours of work by dedicated students to recover from one mistake.