>These posts sure are getting long…

>Late night last night, was at the coffee shop with Christian until 9, working on my stupid Management Theorist assignment that I wanted to get over with before I got to the other two assignments having to do with my KDU project. Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with the feeling of just how wonderful it is to be around my friends. From Fiber Nite to the Ulysses group to the coffee shop with Debbie, Zinnia, Justin or Christian, everyone is such a pleasure. I was having problems thinking of a way to write about Herbert Simon’s theories (he’s just a straight up post-war rationalist…he did lots of interesting important shit in other fields but this organizational theory didn’t really yank my crank). Having Christian at the coffee shop to give me the philosophy student rundown was really helpful, it almost feels like cheating, but it’s not, it’s LEARNING. Imagine that.

When I got down to writing my KDU Organizational Description, I was in the zone, my typin’ fingers were a-flyin’. I still have to write a 3-page environmental scan for the same project today (I hope it’s not redundant at all) but all in all I just continually feel better and better about my project. I hope to go to Temple today to get a library 101 lesson from Justin. Wish I could do some Ulysses reading tonight but I doubt it’s possible. Normally I’m not big on the rain but lately I’ve been revelling in it…the gray, the cool air, the ability to cuddle up with the cat and some coffee and read and be productive. The urge to listen to bands like Radiohead and Leonard Cohen and early 20th century French jazz.

Well here’s my org description, but I cut out the budget stuff because they’re real numbers I used, and I don’t think that’s everyone’s business.

Organization Description – WKDU 91.7 FM Philadelphia (http://www.wkdu.org)

WKDU is probably one of the only truly non-commercial brick-and-mortar radio stations in the country. Unlike NPR stations, WKDU has no underwriting of any kind, and derives its entire operating budget from Drexel University’s student activities fees. WKDU’s programming is also special in that it is free form, the only rules are 1.) at least 1/3 of their show has to be “new music” and 2.) DJs can only play artists you cannot hear on commercial radio stations or MTV. Although that second tenet might sound incredibly restrictive, the shows on WKDU are incredibly diverse, spanning genres of punk, indie rock, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, electronic, and music that defies description. WKDU is an entirely student and alumni run organization of 88 active members. There is a lone faculty advisor whose main job is to sign papers that officiate the student executive body’s decisions. WKDU is an 800-watt radio station, which would serve practically no one if it weren’t situated in the densely populated Philadelphia area, where it manages to reach potentially over 1 million listeners in the transmitter’s serving area. In addition to the radio transmission, WKDU offers a live stream of their broadcasts available via WKDU.org, and fans from around the world can instant message DJs with their requests in real time.

WKDU has been started amassing its music collection sometime in the 1970s, when it officially became Drexel’s radio station and adopted the call letters WKDU. Although no definitive count exists, student executives at WKDU estimate their vinyl collection to weigh in at nearly 50,000 strong – more than 30,000 12” LPs, more than 10,000 7” records, and even nearly 100 10” LPs. The CD collection, which grows at a rate of about 30 titles a week, contains at least 50,000 CDs. Both the CD and record libraries are dusty, overflowing, and barely organized alphabetically. Users of the CD library have the advantage of the design of CDs that enables them to visually scan the spines of the CDs when searching for a title. Searching for a particular title in the vinyl library, however, often proves a fool’s errand, as one has to literally flip through records to find what you’re looking for, without knowing for certain whether the record has been misfiled, the record has been stolen, the record is in use, or the record was never owned by WKDU in the first place. DJs have long been hoping for a database of some type to help them find what they’re looking for, and a classification system that not only allows them to know what they really have in the collection, but ways to search by keywords, genre, year, etc.

The organizational culture of WKDU is an interesting one. Although the 88 active members are diverse in terms of age, race, economic background, they were all at some point students of Drexel University, and all very committed music fanatics. In recent years WKDU has had trouble attracting new members, as some find the amount of work expected of these student volunteers not worth the coolness factor of being on the radio, especially when one can podcast for practically nothing in the comfort of their own home. It is actually the resources of WKDU’s music collection (as well as the community of DJs, and the paying DJing opportunities around the city that come with the notoriety of being a WKDU DJ) that ultimately attracts students to the organization. Once a student is hooked into WKDU, though, the loyalty is fierce and unending, in fact there are many alumni who continue to be active in the day-to-day operations of WKDU and DJ on the air who began their tenure with WKDU 20 years ago! As DJs are unpaid and orchestrating a weekly 3-hour, commercial-free radio shows time-consuming, the commitment of the WKDU DJ is worth noting. Because the DJs are so emotionally invested in their endeavor, a lot of in-fighting ensues, especially from those who feel others are taking more from WKDU than they are putting into it. WKDU DJs are extremely technologically savvy; student DJs engineer live bands playing on the air and make professional recordings of their performances for later airplay, they also routinely perform feats of d.i.y. engineering on the station’s equipment when it breaks. DJs nearly unanimously prefer Macs and the entire station is outfitted with a veritable arsenal of Macs—both brand new and ancient—and are voracious early adopters of new technology, despite their penchant for vinyl. The entire staff votes each year on an executive body of students and alumni who make the important decisions of the station and to whom grievances are referred, and they in turn appoint junior executive positions for students to carry out. One of the most thankless and impotent of these positions is record librarian – currently the position is unfilled.

[budget stuff cut out]

The climate at WKDU is ripe for a change in the way their record library is managed, judging from a preliminary email survey sent to the active member e-mail list. Some responses:

“It would also be tremendously helpful if there were some hard and fast rules for alphabetizing the CDs posted where all the DJs can see them so some doofus doesn’t put Explosions in the Sky under the “S” CDs. After putting in all my new DJ hours in the record library, I can’t understand how some of the DJs passed 1st grade.”

“Due to theft, there are some glaring holes in the record library. This is especially apparent with the early Revelation catalog, and some of the “bigger” early straight edge bands like SSD and Uniform Choice (Staring into the Sun, but not Screaming for Change? There’s a problem there!)

Also, there is no definitive list of what is actually in the library. A lot of times, you’ll say, “I wonder if we have ________,” and then you have to just dig for it unless you’ve seen it there before. Also, a lot of people suck at putting things back in their proper places which makes nearly every visit for a popular LP something of a dig.”

“It’s the most important thing possible. For kids involved with punk rock, it creates an archive of our history. Records, zines, live tapes, and photographs are all little pieces and memories that need to be collected and protected. With my own record collection, I see it this way: As long as I have a copy of Break Down the Walls in my possession, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, it’ll never be completely forgotten. As stupid as that sounds, I think it’s important for KDU to maintain that sort of mentality. As long as we maintain this library, there’s a chance in the future some kid with no clue will pick up a Bad Brains record and have his life totally changed.”


C’est tout. I hope I can get my enviro scan done at work today around the work-work I have, so I might actually get to sleep at a decent time and rest up for dancin’ the night away tomorrow night.

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