Student station managers no longer paid at WERS

by Jackie Tempera / Beacon Staff • September 10, 2014

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Jack Casey

For the first time in seven years, student station managers at WERS, the college’s student-run public radio station, are no longer being paid for their work.

Since 2007, station managers have been paid $10 per hour for their work on the shows — vetting new music, scheduling anchors, and overseeing web writing and social media. Usually, the station has 12 student managers at a time, and they each work 10 to 20 hours per week, according to Jack Casey, the station’s general manager. 

Casey said he implemented the change in August in an effort to save the college money.

“It’s our way to take some of the pressure off tuition,” Casey said. “We’re trying to save the college money by trimming wherever we can in the budget.” 

Junior Alyssa Giannone said she was forced to quit her WERS job because of the change. She said she had just risen to the paid position of program director after a summer of work at the station. 

“It was tough for me to swallow,” the journalism major said. “I couldn’t afford to work there anymore.” 

As in 2013, the station continues to operate with a $1 million annual budget, over half of which is provided by Emerson. The remaining funding comes from donations and underwriting.

After urging from the college last fall, the station began to make changes in the hopes that it could become more financially stable, Casey said in an interview at the time. 

These changes included hiring a professional host, cancelling two popular late-night urban music programs, and choosing more consistent on-air talent. 

Cutting student salaries is the next step, Casey said. He said he was always “uncomfortable” with the idea of paying students because he didn’t want people to apply just for the paycheck. 

“We were always vigilant in reminding students that they shouldn’t expect or depend on the pay,” Casey said.

Since Casey announced the change at a manager’s meeting, he said he hasn’t received any complaints from students. 

“If they have a problem with it, they haven’t told me,” he said. 

Giannone said she was shocked to hear about the change, but thinks it could be positive for the station.

“It kind of levels the radio station to the rest of the country,” she said. “Not too many other students are paid for their work.” 

Victoria Bedford, a senior journalism major and morning show co-host, said while she was disappointed in the change, she understands the need to cut spending. 

“Hopefully someday they’ll be able to reinstate pay,” Bedford said, “but my understanding is that things havebecome financially tricky.”

Mary Kennedy, an Emerson alumna who now hosts a show on LA Talk Radio, agreed the change could be a let-down for students. 

“It’s a good morale boost to be paid for your art,” Kennedy said. “Even if it is a small stipend, it is an acknowledgement. When you take that away, morale is going to go down.” 

Liz Gilles, a WERS manager, said the change puts extra pressure on students.

“It is a difficult thing for students who depended on that for their source of income.”