Every few months we highlight a different department of Asheville FM. Check out our last post, which spotlighted the Underwriting Department.
What would any community radio station be without a programming department? Radio silence, perhaps? Without them, there would be no broadcasts—no music or talk shows. Fortunately, Asheville FM has an amazing group of programming extraordinaires who comprise our Programming Department and keep the good sounds flowing.
For this overview on the department, we spoke with Avel Veeta, who became Asheville FM’s Program Director and chair of the Program Committee in January 2017. The Program Committee is a separate team of department heads that helps make programming decisions. Shortly after Avel began volunteering at the station in spring 2015, he joined Programming as part of the Simulcast/Remote team. In his current role, Avel’s responsibilities include ensuring that Asheville FM hosts and producers follow station and FCC policies and regulations, as well as retooling the ongoing show review system.
What’s a Broadcast Schedule?
The Broadcast Schedule (AKA On-Air Schedule) is a lineup of every show, the DJ, and the time slot. Asheville FM revamps its schedule twice yearly. Currently, the shortest show is 30 minutes and the longest show is three hours. “We also have a smattering of one-hour shows,” says Avel. “Most new shows are encouraged to apply for a two-hour slot.”
The current broadcast schedule began on June 4, and the new schedule is set to take over in December. The current lineup includes more than 60 locally produced shows, and many shows have more than one host or producer.
“We also have an ever growing list of new volunteers who are completing our own Asheville FM DJ training courses,” says Avel. “There are names almost constantly being added to our list of qualified substitute DJs. Even if I could spit out an accurate number right now, I’m sure it will likely have grown by the time this gets published.”
How do shows get selected for the Broadcast Schedule?
The station gets many new show applications throughout the year. “Part of my job is to evaluate those applications and decide whether to approve new shows and include them as part of our broadcast schedule,” says Avel. “For new shows, I rely heavily on feedback from our volunteer coordinators, department heads and DJ Training instructors, to help evaluate if the volunteers are in good standing with the station, and have the skills necessary to host/produce the show idea that they have applied for.”
Avel says it’s also important to consider the show idea itself. “As awesome as it might be to have 15 superbly curated shows all dedicated to ’70s and ’80s punk rock, that doesn’t lend itself to allowing room for all the other great genres and formats that our diverse community enjoys and deserves. So even great show ideas get denied sometimes. To help make those evaluations I rely heavily on input from the Programming Committee. Additionally, existing shows must take part in a program renewal process. Then there is the actual timeline of each day to consider. Programming does its best to create a cohesive and well thought out Broadcast Schedule for the entire week, with all the approved shows available.”
How do I get a radio show?
In order to be a DJ, you must first volunteer at the station for a minimum of 12 hours of volunteer work within a six-month period (with some exceptions). Avel explains the process: “The DJ Training is a prerequisite to applying to host/produce your own show on the schedule. It is open to any and all AFM volunteers in good standing and is designed to give participants the knowledge needed to host a show here at AFM. No prior experience is necessary. Once a volunteer has gone through the classes, they are encouraged to take part in our show called The Sandbox Hour. This is a weekly show, currently on Sundays at 8 am, where new DJs can get live, on-air experience behind the board, putting into practice the skills taught in the training classes. Topics, format, and genre varies from week to week as a different host gets in the driver’s seat, and hosts their own show. It’s also a place for existing DJs to try a new genre or format, different from what they might normally do. It’s basically a lot of fun, and is considered the final step in becoming a new DJ at Asheville FM.”
What are some rules you have to follow?
While there are legal parameters that must be adhered to, to keep from getting in trouble with the FCC or to be able to maintain our nonprofit status, there is a really an open mind on what is possible on Asheville FM. “As far as trying to govern the content of AFM, aside from encouraging volunteers to apply for new shows, I do my best NOT to influence the overall personality of the station or steer our content too far in any one direction,” explains Avel. “I see AFM as a resource that needs to be available to every voice we have in our community, and I want to encourage, and make it easy for, us all to make our voices heard.”
How do I get involved?
As far as potential volunteers are concerned, the Programming Department is always looking for folks to join. “Right now we are especially looking for volunteers to participate in screening AFM shows as part of an ongoing peer review process,” says Avel. Interested parties, and anyone looking to get involved with any of the departments here at Asheville FM, are welcome to contact the volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.