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Brown Student Radio Gets Lawyered Off the Airwaves By Private School
Posted By Samier Saeed On September 6, 2011 @ 3:00 pm In Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Counterpoint: Absolutely not! Who peddles these stereotypes? (Certainly not us here at IvyGate.) The student body can be astonishingly, even disappointingly normal. Just look at all those Brown students diligently studying economics with the intention of going into banking or consulting (albeit with some shame).
As it turns out, both sides seem kind of hopeless, as evinced by a recent debacle in which Brunonians were outmaneuvered by the managers of a day school — thus damaging the stature of an independent, student-run radio station (a hipster’s platonic ideal) and making Brown kids look like bungling negotiators in the process.
Here’s the story: Brown Student Radio was leasing its radio signal from The Wheeler School, a private academy (N-12) that practically sits on Brown’s campus. A menagerie of modern glass and steelwork attached to old fashioned red-brick buildings, the school would blend perfectly into Brown’s campus if it weren’t so well maintained.
As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough that Brown students had to rent their signal from a secondary school, consider the fact that the administrators from said institution effectively lawyered the hell out of BSR just the other week. Wheeler administrators apparently “‘slipped in a clause’ that allowed them to terminate [the] lease only 15 days in advance” according to the Brown Daily Herald. They slipped it in, and then they used it. BSR concluded 14 years of analog broadcasting on August 1st, when Wheeler abruptly terminated the lease.
“Slipped in”, you say? As in to imply this happened without BSR’s noticing? And they only learned about it when they were shown the door? If that’s true, then it’s pretty embarrassing. But it’s not exactly the case.
Station Manager Erik-Dardan Ymeraga told IvyGate recently that “[the school has] generally been able to dictate terms, leaving us without much room to negotiate.” He adds that “past leadership would have read over the contract, as would have the relevant University offices, so yes [BSR was aware of the clause].” The organization attempted to win back the contract, applying against other candidates for the signal it was already renting. However, it ultimately lost to Rhode Island Public Radio, a company “with more political clout,” according to the Herald.
So maybe they aren’t the comically naive Brown students they originally seemed, but they definitely got screwed. Fifteen days is like a blink of an eye, and it’s hard not to reach the conclusion the folks at Wheeler behaved a bit like pricks. In speaking with the Herald, BSR Station Manager Ryan Lester characterized Wheeler’s move as a “free market decision.” But it also seems to be more than just cutthroat business maneuvering.
Ymeraga told us that “the way it was handled just seemed … off somehow after such a longstanding partnership.” And as he points out, there wasn’t even another lover, so to speak, when the contract got cancelled. Though Rhode Island Public Radio is finalizing negotiations to take over the signal, nobody has been broadcasting on it for the past month. So, Wheeler dumped BSR with little warning, and then — as if to rub it in — let the signal sit idle. That isn’t just getting jilted. It’s a vindictive break-up over Facebook chat.
(BSR shouldn’t feel too bad, though: The Wheeler School is expert at fleecing people. There are about 1554 parents happily getting screwed by them annually.)
The radio station is currently broadcasting online. And, on the plus side, they are no longer subject to Wheeler’s stringent restrictions on their content. They’ll funnel the money they would have used to pay their lease to improve their internet infrastructure. They look forward to “positive and progressive changes here.”
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