WECB makes changes for wider audience

by Beacon Staff • March 19, 2008

WECB will come to the center through Channel 65, the station's closed circuit feed.

Using a remote control, front desk workers will be able to play WECB's programming as it is broadcast simultaneously online.,As of this month, WECB, Emerson's student-run online radio station, will begin broadcasting at the Campus Center in the Piano Row dormitory during the day.

WECB will come to the center through Channel 65, the station's closed circuit feed.

Using a remote control, front desk workers will be able to play WECB's programming as it is broadcast simultaneously online.

WERS, the college's commercial station, and ETIN, Emerson's talk radio network, both stream live online.

However, WECB, which broadcasts for 18 hours a day, is the only station that is solely online while the other two can be heard on FM radio.

General manager Jeffrey Penfield, a sophomore, said WECB's two previous means of broadcast reached a limited audience and that the change will gain the station more listeners.

He said WECB, known for its independent voice, will have to increase focus on Emerson events and tone down the free reign of its disc jockeys for the wider broadcast.

"We want to integrate into the community a little more, but the shows will remain the same," the radio major said. "That is, except for keeping it appropriate."

According to Penfield, if an Emerson official hears a swear word, the show will be reported and privileges for air time at the Center will be lost.

DJ Ren Long, a sophomore, co-hosts a free-form show called Aggrocrag on Saturday nights. During their time slot, they discuss movies and music and play their favorite songs.

She feels like the core of WECB is at stake.

"People are drawn to WECB because there aren't restrictions on what you can and cannot play," the writing, literature and publishing major said. "You used to have free reign, and now we're being restricted to songs without curses, and to cut down on the banter in between songs."

Along with the removal of swears in music and in student broadcasting, there will be a cut on free-form discussions and prank calls and a more rigid organization in play time and WECB ad time.

The official list of banned swears includes half a dozen specific words.

Digital Post Production major Matthew Nix said he feels this action will take away from the originality of the station's programming.

"There's nothing to be gained from this censorship," the freshman said. "WECB isn't meant to be a serious broadcast, it's to be a fun side project. If the listeners wanted professional radio, they'd turn on WERS...You throw in censorship, it stops being a communal experience."

Penfield said there weren't previous limitations because WECB was an Internet station. The new clean up is also due to the fact that WECB is funded by the Student Government Association.

The SGA controls WECB's budget and can take back the money it gives the station because of an infraction. Penfield said this would cause WECB to go off the air.

However, he stressed that there was no threat to WECB's entire existence should a rule be broken because of the station's good relationship with the SGA.

He also said WECB's content had rarely pushed these new boundaries anyway before being asked to broadcast in the Campus Center.

"I just wanted to be prepared so that we could eventually ask to be played all the time at the Campus Center," Penfield wrote in a follow-up email message.

Despite the new limitations, Penfield said the DJs will still have control over music selection.

According to its Web site, WECB, the college's first radio station, was founded 60 years ago as a commercial station. In 1998, it moved from 132 Beacon St. to WERS headquarters at 180 Tremont St.

WECB became known for its underground feel and for its welcoming of students with varied levels of experience to host programs.

Shows on WECB include a talk show called "Talking Trash with Mac Attack and C-Bone," a British rock program called "Anglophiles Unite" and a folk show called "Go Folk Yourself."

Genres of other shows include hip-hop, world music, indie rock, video game music, comedy, electronic/techno and jam band.

Penfield said WECB management knows the changes could make the station a better competitor against WERS and campus television stations like the Emerson Channel and WEBN.

Despite the opportunity, some DJs want to keep WECB's authenticity alive.

"I understand that WECB wants to sound more professional," Long said. "But if it tries to turn into WERS, I'll be really disappointed."