The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

Radio silence?

The current state of the VTSU-Johnson radio station
Sage As8bakw Selec
Lack of interest among students leads to an empty DJ chair, with programming being broadcast from Middlebury.

The state of the VTSU-Johnson 90.7 radio station has been in a constant flux for several years now, as over the past few years Middlebury College has been interested in purchasing the Johnson college radio station.

According to Jeff Angione, the radio station advisor in Johnson, and Gary Savoie, the consultant and advisor for Middlebury’s radio, Middlebury College and Vermont State University (then, Northern Vermont University) began discussing the purchase and sale of the radio station in 2022. In the two years since, there has not been much news from VTSU administration regarding whether the station has been officially sold.

That is until recently, when Sarah Truckle, VTSU’s the vice president of business operations, assigned Jamia Danzy, the VTSU dean of students, to host a student forum to discuss it. Danzy, in turn, invited students involved in the radio station to discuss its fate. So why now?

Danzy reached out to Angione and the two spoke at length about the radio station’s history, its present, and the possible future. Angione told Danzy that the radio station is supposed to be eventually sold to Middlebury. Danzy has also spoken to Savoie to get his insight.

“We are currently sharing the radio station with Middlebury, so do we want to go ahead and sell the radio station to Middlebury, but in that sale, work with [Middlebury] so that our students can continue to host radio shows and still really continue what they’ve been doing,” said Danzy.
“I would like to sit down … and have a conversation about the radio station and what the options are,” Danzy continued. “I really want to get student feedback and student thoughts about how we move forward … I think students have to feel good about this decision, which is why I really want to make sure there is a conversation …” As of publishing this article, the meeting has not been scheduled.

“To be honest, I don’t know much about [the radio station’s sale],” Truckle told Basement Medicine. She assigned Danzy to host the forum due to the station being flagged by VTSU’s legal counsel, and Truckle wanted to “understand the use of the radio station among students” and what operations look like currently. According to her, it was flagged because of the “many legal requirements to running a radio station, which are currently not up to date.” Truckle said that these legal issues were due to the creation of VTSU.

“Not to my knowledge,” Truckle said, when clarifying if the forum was about the radio station’s sale. “[The sale] has not flowed through my division.”
However, according to Angione, the flagging came from the fact that there aren’t enough people working in the station to uphold all the work that needs to be done, like transmitter readings, public service announcements, announcing legal notices, and being on the air. Angione has been working as the radio station’s advisor for years, and he says that even when Johnson State College and Lyndon State College merged into NVU, none of this had been an issue.

Middlebury and Johnson have been sharing airtime for two years now, with Middlebury providing support and programming for Johnson. Middlebury has no plans to adjust or change anything about airtime for students, as noted by Savoie. The students who ran the Johnson radio station club were also made aware of this in the Fall semester of 2023.

“[Middlebury] has had over two years of this arrangement, working out the bugs, and has no hidden agenda; what we have is more or less what we will hope to continue with … Right now, we are functioning merely as a programming service,” said Savoie.
He goes on to clarify what will be updated, should Middlebury purchase the radio station.

“Because we don’t own this facility, there are specific federal, legal reasons for things we haven’t done,” said Savoie. “Likely the production room would be updated to a facility for pre-recording shows or podcast production; for continuing coordination of the various geolocated specific needs and local programming. We have learned over the years that students often want airtime, but their schedules conflict with open air availability – a facility to accommodate that production assists in a solution.”

Even though VTSU and Middlebury have been discussing the sale for years, Savoie said that everyone is still waiting for VTSU to give an answer regarding it. According to Angione, there was radio silence from VTSU/NVU after the bargaining began. Only about six months ago did VTSU finally respond.

“[Savoie] wrote a letter to the Board of Trustees and said, ‘Are we going to sell the radio station?’” said Angione, “To which the Board of Trustees said, ‘this the first we’ve heard of it.’”

Angione and the students running the station are not against the station’s purchase by Middlebury.

“I’m happy to be part of the Middlebury team, because I think they bring a little extra here,” said Angione. Both he and the students running the station believe a forum to be unnecessary as well. Angione speculated that the reason the forum was proposed was because VTSU administration didn’t want any pushback from students when the sale went through.

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About the Contributor
Sage As8bakw Selec
Sage As8bakw Selec, Staff Writer, Art Director
Sage "As8bakw" Selec (they/them) is an Indigenous and Bosnian artist and writer. They pride themselves on being critically honest and being passionate about their endeavors. They are currently living in Vermont, have a cat named Jiji, and enjoying being broke.

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