The Western Carolinian, the campus newspaper, remains under the Division of Student Affairs, as do other UNC-system school radio stations such as WXYC at UNC-CH.
Mike Jackson, WCU alumnus and former president of the station, said he dislikes the new system.
“When I was elected director, I had three people run against me,” Jackson said. “We each gave speeches about our platforms, and then the student staff voted.”
Alumni have other concerns with the structure of the station, which was established in 1977.
Jackson said though the radio station has traditionally played Top 40 music, the faculty advisor plays mostly classic rock.
“They’ve abandoned the 25-year tradition of programming to students,” Jackson said. “I had an intern who was also the program director a few years ago, and when I asked him if he could get more Top 40 on the station, he said the faculty person wouldn’t allow it.”
Jackson said alumni of the radio station recently held a reunion that spurred the creation of a Facebook page — “Friends for a Better WWCU” — that supports the return of student-elected management. The page currently has 204 fans.
Paul Turner, a nationally syndicated voice-over artist who got his start at WWCU, narrated an informational video about the group’s cause.
“Local student-anchored news has always been a vital part of programming at WWCU, but it has been missing for about a decade now,” he said in the video.
Alumni such as Jackson and Turner are working to garner support for their cause, using Facebook and other media such as the campus newspaper.
“It’s a violation of the right to freedom of speech and programming,” Jackson said.
But Frank LoMonte, executive director of the national Student Press Law Center, said that was not necessarily the case.
“There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to where administrative oversight of a radio station belongs, so long as the station enforces a policy of student editorial autonomy,” LoMonte said in an email.
“Unless evidence emerges that the student leadership at the station has tried to change the content of programming and has been blocked, I don’t know that there is a real constitutional issue.”
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