The WESN DJ Manual (fall 98 draft)
Why You Need This Manual
Congratulations on being named a WESN DJ! Now that you're one of the elite, you have some unique privileges as well as some responsibilities. The WESN staff made this manual so that you might be made aware of those responsibilities.
While there is no obligation for you to read this manual, there is an obligation to follow the rules and regulations, outlined therein. If those rules and regulations are not followed, you can (and will) be removed from the air waves, and ignorance will be no excuse since you have the manual in hand. The WESN emphasizes that this manual is not merely for new DJs; there are several new regulations and some have been modified, so it is essential for all DJs.
THE STUFF YOU MUST KNOW
This is the stuff that's really, really important - not that the rest of this manual isn't, but the following will get you kicked off the air, for a show, a semester, or for good. Most of these are in place due to either a campus policy or an FCC regulation, or are there to protect WESN itself. Read and heed. Explanations follow.
1. No food or drink in the studio area at any time.
2. Absolutely no obscenity on the air in any program material, spoken or musical. (Obscenity includes "the words you can't say on the air" as well as anything that graphically or explicitly describes sexual or "potty" functions or activities.)
3. Absolutely no smoking, drinking, burning incense, or illicit drug usage in the studio.
4. Vandalism of the studio, which includes breaking stuff, writing things on the walls or other surfaces, and anything else involving unauthorized modification of the studio environment, is prohibited.
5. Attendance at your show is expected, and "unexcused absences" will result in the loss of your slot. (Being late for your show counts as an unexcused absence.)
6. Theft of studio property will not only result in termination but in a report to the Dean of Students, which may result in criminal charges.
7. Do not alter the configuration or settings of equipment not directly relevant to your show.
8. Don't slander or insult any IWU student, faculty member, or potential member of the listening audience.
9. Clean up any messes in the studio when you're finished - put everything back where you found it.
10. You must play or say at least two legal station identifications during each hour (one of which must be at the top of the hour-see below for the definition of a legal station ID). Additionally, you need to play two public service announcements each hour, and three new songs (the latter only applies if your show is subject to the new music requirement; see the section on music selection.)
11. No more than four people are allowed in-studio during your show.
12. All music DJs are required to fill out a program log.
13. All shows are subject to preemption in order to fit in special programming items that may not fit during any other time slot besides the one in question. This preemption may occur with or without prior notice and will not affect the remainder of the DJs semester schedule unless absolutely necessary.
14. If new regulations are instituted mid-semester, questions or complaints are invited, but compliance is required of all shows unless exemptions are allowed by the executive staff. Ignoring a regulation is punishable by termination, regardless of how new the regulation is.
15. All DJs are subject to temporary or permanent removal from the station schedule by a member of exec staff with or without reason. All DJs must sign an agreement to this effect before going on-air.
Now that you know the rules, let's explain them a bit
No food or drink in the studio. This poses a threat to our equipment and our newly remodeled studio. If you must eat or drink during your show, that's fine, and we encourage you to do so outside the studio - in the foyer area outside the studio door, for example.
Absolutely no obscenity on the air. This goes for your program material as well as the things you say over the microphone. FCC guidelines define obscenity as anything that graphically details sexual or potty functions. Additionally, there are the seven words that cannot be said on-air. If you have a question about what qualifies as obscenity, ask a staff member. If you are on the air and are not sure whether something you are about to play qualifies as obscenity, don't do it. (Yes, you can censor material on the air, but only take this route if the song only has a couple of swears and you know EXACTLY where they are and how to perform the live edit.) We are not fooling around; one warning is all you get for program material, and swear once on the mic and you're out. Additionally, if you do something that offends someone and we hear about it, you will lose your show. We stress that this applies to all shows at all hours of the day and not to merely morning and afternoon programming.
Vandalism is absolutely prohibited. The WESN studio is University property; as such, IWU can and will press charges against a student who vandalizes the studio. No matter how cute it is to you, we have to maintain our studio for coming generations on a shoestring budget, and neither we nor our cameras look particularly fondly upon "clever" graffiti. Let's not even talk about how we feel about even more serious forms of damage to the studio, but we know you wouldn't think of doing such a thing. Right?
Attendance is required. The privilege of having a show means having a responsibility to be there. If you have a conflict with your show, you are expected to call the Program Director at least 24 hours previous, if not sooner. It is acceptable for you to find a substitute for your show but if you do you must still notify the Program Director and your replacement must be an authorized WESN DJ. If you miss your show without giving the WESN staff advance notice, you will be terminated. If you are running late, for whatever reason, please do the show before you the courtesy of calling ahead and letting them know, so they can plan accordingly and/or phone an exec staff member. A good idea in general is to be at the station at least 5-7 minutes before your show is to begin. You will need this amount of time to prepare the first few minutes of your show effectively.
Never leave the studio unattended unless you are a "last slot" DJ. If the DJ after you doesn't show up on time, wait until they do show up. If they aren't there within a few minutes after the hour, call them and call members of executive staff until you can contact one (Start with the program director and station manager). They will either find a replacement for the missing DJ or give you "emergency instructions" to keep the station on the air. Leaving the studio with "dead air" is just about as bad as not showing up for your own show and will be punished similarly.
Don't mess with any equipment you shouldn't. This is common sense. If you don't know what it does, you could easily screw up everything for the DJ's after you until a staff member comes to fix it.
Don't Insult or slander students, faculty, or university affairs on the air. You don't know who's listening, so this is generally unwise. We have had plenty of students embarrass themselves on the air, where they assumed their "friend" or professor wasn't listening.
Clean up after yourself when you've finished using the studio. Put away carts, and throw away any trash. Furthermore, be especially careful to pack all your CDs. Our DJs have had the recent bad habit of leaving some of their discs in the station and then wonder why they aren't waiting for them when they get back!
During your show, you must either play or say a LEGAL station identification (which must contain ALL of the following information: "This is WESN, 88. 1, The Far Left FM in Bloomington" twice an hour. Of these two ID's, one absolutely MUST be within five minutes of either side of the top of the hour (i.e. between 9:55 and 10:05).
No more than four people are allowed in the studio during your show. This is to prevent on-air confusion and slipups and to prevent damage to the studio from inexperienced guests. The studio is for broadcast and is not designed as a place where you and your friends can get together once a week. Please keep the number of guests to a minimum and don't invite anyone down unless your show depends on their presence.
All DJs are required to fill out a program log and to mark new and requested material.
(Blank logs are always located in the studio. If we run out, call a staff member, and use a blank piece of paper for the time being.)
From time to time, a special programming broadcast may conflict with part or all of your normal show time. In this situation, WESN staff will attempt to contact you in advance, but this may not always be feasible. Please be patient with us in these situations - we are not trying to take away your personal air time, merely placing the special broadcast where it will fit. If we call you in advance, it will not be necessary to show up in the studio until the time when the special programming is scheduled to finish.
Special guidelines for first-in-the-morning and last-at-night shows
This year is a first for WESN - we're going to 24-hour programming. When the station is not inhabited by live DJs, our compu-cart "jukebox" will fill the wee hours of the night with delicious WESN tunes. These are some important notes for the DJs who will most be affected by the all-night playsuits system.
FIRST-IN-THE-MORNING SHOWS If things work as intended, there will be music playing from the computer when you arrive in the studio. Cue up your first song, wait until the time remaining display shows that the present song is about to end, and start your first song while fading down the computer input on the board. Then stop the computer, clear the play list normally, and add your own "carts" when necessary. It is especially important that you show up on rime, since the computer's playlists do not "run over." If you are late and the music has stopped, be sure to play the station sign-on before playing your first song.
LAST-AT-NIGHT SHOWS You will need to start the computer on a prescribed play list after you play your last song and station ID. Each week, the WESN staff will generate a special set of play lists for overnight play and place them in a special folder. Depending on the night of the week your show is held, you will load a playlist which will always have the same filename, and press play as soon as you are finished. (We will tell you the filename at training, don't panic.) Then, turn down the in-studio monitors so as not to disturb our upstairs neighbors. The computer will continue to play songs until the first moming DJ arrives.
IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU START THE MACHINE EXACTLY ON TIME. Do not run over your allotted slot, and do not assume you can go home early. The machine's playlists are designed so that legal necessities like station ID's will be played in the proper chronological spot, and not starting the machine at the time your show is supposed to end will throw this off, which might get us into a heap of trouble.
Professionalism may sound lame, but it is essential to keep your listener base, and to make sure that station has a consistent supply of listeners that continues to grow. Professionalism does not mean that your programming is boring, or that your show does not have a sense of humor or personal identity; rather, it means that your show does not irritate people. There are only a few principles of sounding professional on the air that you need to keep in mind.
1. Don't make inside jokes or obscure references. If you know you have friends listening, that's cool, but that does not mean that you don't have additional listeners. There are probably many more strangers than friends listening. In order to ensure that WESN does not sound amateurish (or even "pirate-ish"), you must keep the broad audience in mind.
2. Keep banter to an absolute minimum. It's good to name the songs you just played, to say the time, to thank a caller, or even make a brief joke. It's not good to spend five minutes on the air, giggling and joking with your in-studio friends, talking about a TV show you saw last night, or stuttering and stumbling for no reason. Say what you need to, and go to your next song. Anything else will cause the listeners you had to change the station in search of music.
3. Listeners don't care about technical difficulties. (Most probably won't even notice!) If a CD is skipping, fix it as soon as possible and don't talk about it on-air. If you let one or two obscenities slip through, for God's sake, don't draw attention to it (And for that matter, if there is a song that has far more obscenities than you thought it did, fade the song down IMMEDIATELY and start your next one.) There is no need to apologize for your mistakes, and doing so may make your show sound especially amateurish.
4. Continuity is everything. When you talk, make sure that the next song begins as soon as possible after you finish speaking. When going from one song to the next, especially with two CDs, do your best to make the transitions smooth. If you know one song ends instantly, start the next one immediately afterward. If the song ends with a slow fade, try to follow with a song that fades in, and crossfade the two. When preparing to talk, if your lost song fades out, begin talking before the song is completely finished. Try to find new ways to get your programming as tight as possible.
5. Keep your show well balanced. This is a broad guideline that pertains to everything you do on the air. It can mean anything from talking in the right places (talking every five minutes and talking only every hour are equally bad booboos) to finding the right pattern of musical styles for your show (death metal followed by Billie Holiday is something best attempted by expert DJs), to making sure your PSAs and station IDs fall in the right place. Pace your show properly and you won't hear any complaints from the station's listeners.
6. Here's a simple one that a lot of people overlook: use the program log from the DJs that came before you. This helps ensure that you don't play the same songs within 15 minutes of each other. It's not a good idea to play music from the some bond closer than two hours apart, so if you absolutely must play that Tool song, try to gauge exactly when the previous DJ played it and space your show appropriately.
7. Try to compare your show to other radio stations in the area. This does not mean that the music played on your show should reflect modern commercial radio; rather, it means that you are following a general outline that ensures you will not turn the average listener off. Whenever you talk (or do anything "funny") on the radio, ask yourself the important question: "Would I want to hear someone else doing that on the air? Would my friends want to?" This may help you to determine whether you are being clever or merely idiotic.
All DJs should check the designated area in the studio where information pertaining to new policy will be posted. We will try to notify DJs via email as well, but any new policies must be followed as though it were outlined in this manual, so failure to check in the studio before going on air will not be an acceptable excuse.
To get on air, you must sign an agreement stating that you understand all the regulations and agree that you may be terminated from your show by a member of WESN executive staff for violating a station regulation, or for any other reason. Please make sure you understand the regulations in full before signing this agreement. If you follow the rules and use common sense, you will likely have your show for as many semesters as you choose to keep it.
Using the Equipment
WESN is becoming more high-tech all the time, and this year we'll be adding more new gear than ever before. Some of it is there to help your show - or the station sound better, and some of it is there to satisfy an FCC regulation or two. There's no point in describing the new gear in detail here - for one thing, we don't have most of it yet. (Don't worry, we'll be holding training sessions again as more of it rolls in.) But there are some things you need to keep in mind whenever you're on the air. These things will keep your show sounding good and ensure the DJs following you sound good too.
1. Your levels are extremely important. By levels, we mean the reading displayed on the VU meters on the mixing console. If your levels are too quiet, listeners will have a difficult time hearing the program material, and may change the station as a result. If your levels are too loud, everything will sound distorted and unpleasant, and a lot of the music will be "missing." Unless you are playing classical music, the meters should average around 0 dB (the boundary between "black" and "red"). With classical music or quieter pieces, you should make every effort to ensure that your levels are at least making the meters move in quiet sections and not "pinning the meters" in louder sections. For rock, if you're playing a piece that has an extremely quiet intro or beginning, you may wish to cue to a section with more relevant musical material, or do a fade-in.
2. Stay in the digital domain as much as you can. It is extremely important to bring as many CDs of your own as you possibly carry You may have a request that you cannot fulfill with station materials on hand, or you may find yourself playing the same songs in the station's collection every show. However, try to avoid bringing your mix tape collection along with your discs. Cassettes are the worst sounding format that one can use on the air, even worse than vinyl. In order to keep station sound quality and continuity high, it is important to remain in the digital domain as much as possible.
3. DO NOT ALTER THE CONFIGURATION OF THE STATION COMPUTER IN ANY WAY. This is very important to make sure that the computer runs properly as a virtual cart machine. The "cart playback" program we use is highly processor-intensive and is very fussy about other programs getting in its way. Do 'not make any changes to the settings for the WinAmp program, attempt to run additional programs while using the program onair, or try to install or remove software or files. If the computer crashes or has other difficulties, call a member of exec staff as soon as possible. We closely monitor all activity (including file access and new file installation) on the machine in a number of ways to ensure that it continues to operate properly. While we know that it may be tempting to check your email while on the air, don't try to set up the machine so you can do so (you'll fail anyhow). The machine's purpose is to crank out the tunes, and nothing else.
4. If something seems broken, don't try to fix it yourself, even if you know what you're doing. Call a staff member immediately and we will fix the problem.
Music selection issues
WESN is all about music. Not just any music, mind you -we're about music you don't hear anywhere else. The staff doesn't care what you play, as long as you aren't obvious in your choice of music. We are what is referred to as a "freeform" station, which means that our DJs. can play any kind of music they want to. However, the staff feels strongly that being a "freeform" station means, for the most part, avoiding playing the same music that gets played at stations with stringent playlists (read: "every station in town besides WESN").
Because WESN is a volunteer station, untainted by commercial interests, we have kind of an unwritten obligation to play music that doesn't get heard anywhere else in town. That's why, even though we don't have an official format, we have rough guidelines for what should be played during your show. We also have many ways for you to hear music that you might not normally get access to.
In Bloomington, there is already a great deal of commercial rock, country, "alternative," and oldies on the air. Many of the stations that support these formats also tend to play the same group of 20 songs over and over and over. If a song has been a hit, odds are one of these stations has played it into the dirt, until most people are sick of hearing it on the air. it is for this reason that the WESN staff wants to avoid the airplay of songs in these genres that have already been established as "hits."
Instead, we'd like to focus on playing songs that no one with commercial interest will touch (because they are money-grubbing cowards). Our listener base is comprised of people who are sick of hearing "the usual." We do our best to play anything but the most popular music on the airwaves. We encourage the airplay of classical, jazz, avant-garde, reggae, blues, hip-hop, underground rock, indie, and anything else that is not readily available through allegedly larger media channels. However, in the staff's experience, the majority of our DJs deal in rock. Thus, we provide a great deal of new rock through several channels for DJ accessibility. Many of the artists might be unfamiliar to you, which is why we put descriptions of each CID with a numerical quality rating in our library listings, and extensive descriptions with every "cart" we make.
New Music Policy
While your show doesn't have to be made up of all new music, we do have a small requirement for most of our DJs as far as new music is concerned: three new songs each hour. However this doesn't apply to everyone...
Are you required to play new music?
ALL shows that play music in the rock, R&B, hiphop, techno, and "weird" categories are required to play no less than 3 new songs every hour. These songs can be taken from your own library, provided that you are aware of the exact release date of the product in question and know that it is less than three months old. Alternately, the WESN staff works hard to make sure there is a steady supply of new music in all available 4es; on hand in the computer. If you read the descriptions that the WESN staff provides with each new "cart," and audition the variety of music on "cart" beforehand, you will easily be able to find music that is appropriate to your show, and will improve its quality.
In general, if you ever play songs on your show which are less than six or seven years old, you are subject to the now music requirement. For example, a "classic rock" show would be exempt, but if there are things like Phish and Medeski, Martin and Wood on the show's playlist, the show is subject to the requirement. Shows that feature jazz, blues, world and strongly encouraged to play new music but are exempt from the 3 song per hour policy, largely due to the fact that WESN has few resources in these genres.
WESN is quite serious about making sure that our programming resembles nothing else out there. If you insist on playing a bond that you know is getting or has gotten heavy airplay from another station in town, try playing a song beside the singles from that band's disc! And remember, just because you don't know the band doesn't mean it's not good. WESN was an original source for now-huge bands such as Coke, the Cardigans, the Butthole Surfers and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, playing tracks from their breakthrough albums months or even years before MTV or commercial radio picked up on the disc. You could help set the next trend! If it looks intriguing, play it.
WESN is also recognized in town for being the only station that is liable to get a request and have that song on the air within two minutes. While we wouldn't insist upon a hip-hop show fielding a request for Marilyn Manson obliging, playing requests is always a good way to maintain a growing listener base.
How the Library Works
As we said before, WESN has a library system available to all current DJs. You can hear the newest releases from your favorite artists, or sample full-length releases from artists you may not recognize. To find a disc you want, first search our library catalog, which is available both in paper form in the studio and on our DJ homepage (http:/ /www.iwu.edu/-wesn). We are working on making our online database searchable for our disc jockeys; on the paper list, the discs are placed in order of receipt, not in alphabetical or stylistic order (i.e., the more recent the disc, the higher the number).
All of the latest rules and regulations regarding CD Library Policies are found on our website.
From time to time, WESN will hold special concerts and events. We sincerely hope that, as a DJ, you will participate in and attend these events. While we try to create these events with the whole campus in mind, you should be among the most interested. Try to keep your schedule clear for these events when they come to town. We wouldn't waste your time with crappy bonds, we promise.
Everyone is talking about cyberspace these days, and while we know more than anyone that it gets old after a while, we too have a Web page. Starting this year, our home page is divided into two sections: a page for listeners and interested parties, and a page for DJs that is available only on the IWU network. It is in your best interest to visit the page for DJs. Here is where we keep information such as up to the minute library holdings, newsletters, "inside information", and other fun stuff strictly for you. You can find it at
Try to mention that address as much as possible on the air! We want our listeners to experience our site as well - they should be informed what it is they're listening to.
While all the things we've said here may seem overwhelming, we really do want you to have fun while doing your radio show. Most of the guidelines and regulations that are in place are there so that the station will sound better. If your show sounds professional, more people will tune in, and you'll have more callers and requests. You'll have a better time doing your show as a result.