FSU penalized for WDJM filing error

(Photo by Brad Leuchte)

Framingham State University will pay $1,200 to the Federal Communications Commission due to insufficient documentation of WDJM broadcasting records dating back to 2006.

WDJM General Manager and President Nick Quaglia stressed that keeping the Public File in order has not been an issue as of late.

Located on the fourth floor of the McCarthy Center, WDJM-FM 91.3 can be heard around the Framingham area as well as on the Internet. The station has been operating since 1970.

During WDJM’s license renewal process in November 2013, the FCC found that the station had not been in full compliance with the Public File Rule, according to an FCC report released Jan. 9, 2015. The Public File that WDJM members are expected to keep includes what shows are broadcast, the time each show is broadcast, guests on each show, what is discussed on air and what music is played.

Fees for violations from noncommercial educational stations can be as high as $10,000, according to SILD Director Rachel Lucking. To be assessed for a smaller fine, Framingham State entered into what the FCC calls a Consent Decree.

Lucking said as part of the Consent Decree, WDJM managers “have parameters like training and maintaining the files that also have to be abided by.” Payment is currently processing and will be completed by the end of February. Money for the fine will come from a general “college operation” fund.

According to Lucking, WDJM will be subject to more frequent inspections of files. Instead of the usual seven-year renewal cycle, Framingham State will be reviewed after four years.

All members of WDJM took part in a “mass training” after learning about the infractions, according to Quaglia. “We retrained the station on the Public File and stressed that it must be done,” he said. Station engineers will film one training session to demonstrate reforms are taking place. The filming won’t cost Framingham State any extra money.

“We won club of the year last year,” said Quaglia. “We [WDJM] were the only executive board that actually paid attention, kept everything, and made sure everything was done right. The year before, I wasn’t on the e-board. They didn’t really keep anything.”

According to former General Manager Jess Thomas, ‘14, the previous e-board did not keep the Public File in order.

“Rules for the public file were not followed for the first three years I was in the station,” said Thomas. “Nobody on the e-board was aware of what the public file was, and information was not being logged as it should have been. When I became GM, I was made aware that the Public File was required to be filled out, so I diligently made sure that enough entries were being completed each month.”

Former WDJM staff member Michael Miller was part of the station before and during Thomas’ time as general manager. He agreed with Thomas that the previous e-board was “loose” and did not enforce log-keeping procedures. Miller said, “It wasn’t until Jess Thomas took over that the procedure of log keeping to meet FCC standards became more enforced.”

Current advisor and communication arts professor Niall Stephens was unaware of the fine until notified by The Gatepost.

“I was aware there was something going on with the FCC, but I didn’t know that these fines were coming. I was a little bit surprised,” Stephens said.

Advisors of WDJM have wanted to maintain the club’s student autonomy, according to Stephens.

“When I signed on, Nick Quaglia told me quite directly that students in the club would prefer me to stay out of the way and let them run things,” said Stephens.

Quaglia said, “It’s not that we don’t want him involved at all. We just don’t really feel the need to. We’ll go to him if need be. Our station’s always been self-dependent.”

Stephens described both himself and previous advisor Christopher Bowen as “hands-off” in their approach to advising WDJM.

“I offered my assistance to each iteration of the e-board along the years, but only once was I called upon for help – to donate a computer monitor for the station computer,” Bowen said.

Despite not being actively involved with the club, Stephens said, “I am glad that students want to take on the responsibility of running the station without seeking a lot of input from me or other faculty.”

Bowen said, “I felt fortunate that during my tenure as club advisor the executive board of WDJM was a dedicated and knowledgeable bunch. They knew more about the station and the processes associated with it than I ever could.”

Bowen believes more could be done to support the club in order to give a more authentic radio station experience to students.

“I have never had any experiences working with music, news or production in radio in any way, shape or form,” Bowen said. “In my opinion, it will be significantly more beneficial to the club and the campus to have an advisor who has those experiences and can help manage the club through the numerous layers of campus, local, state and federal concerns that confront such an organization.”

Stephens said, “This has made me want to be more involved than I have been in the club. I would like to encourage students to build the station into a more important presence on campus, and for that matter, in the MetroWest area. It is worth asking what the $1,200 that went to pay the FCC could have done if it had been invested in some constructive way, instead of being used to pay a fine resulting from a failure to follow some very simple procedures.”

Some students who don’t listen to WDJM think they shouldn’t have to pay for the station’s errors.

Junior Ashley Fairweather said, “$1,200 isn’t a lot of money, but I don’t think we should have to pay for their mistakes. I never listen to the radio station here. I don’t know anyone who really does.”

Senior Thomas Barry said, “Since it is primarily a student-run club, the students have a professional responsibility to the University.” He added, “I think it’s cool what they do, but I don’t want to have to pay for a club that I’m not a part of.”

Senior Matthew Davish said, “There’s so many other things this school could spend that money on. The club should have to raise its own money for the fine.”

Some students were more understanding about the club’s mistakes.

Senior Michael Neilan said, “I don’t listen to the radio, but I know people who do. … Mistakes happen. Students aren’t perfect.”

Junior Dylan Piehl said, “I don’t listen to the station.” He added, “We pay to go here. The money should be allocated for whatever the school needs.”

Senior Jamie Chaves said, “I listen occasionally. Being a communication arts major, I’ve thought of joining based on classmates’ suggestions. Regardless of how many people listen, it’s definitely good experience for anyone who wants to go into the broadcasting field.”

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