Programmer On-Air Conduct & Board Operating
It is essential that there be a trained board operator in the studio for all live programs. If you are a programmer and aren’t comfortable operating the board, WGXC will provide a board operator to help you until you can do it yourself. Ultimately, board operators are responsible for everything that happens in the studio and on the air.
A board operator/programmer is responsible for the following:
• A legal station identification at the top of every hour during the broadcast.
• One public service announcement at the start of the show.
• One underwriting announcement at the start of the show. (*or on Saturdays and late nights, one funder acknowledgement announcement.)
• Five minutes of events from the WGXC Community Calendar. These readings can be spread throughout the show. This is required of all music shows, except the shows in the noon timeslot on Monday through Friday. Those programmers must play the noon headlines instead.
• Breaking news bulletins from the Managing News Editor such as weather bulletins, road closings, etc. when they are posted.
• All on-air conduct and material broadcast during the show, including that of the guests.
• The security of WGXC music and equipment.
The FCC requires the station identify itself every hour, on the hour. This is called a legal station ID. To be legal, the station ID must be: “WGXC, ACRA”
The legal ID must be stated wholly and completely at the beginning of every hour. We cannot insert any words or phrases into the statement listed above. We may say whatever we please before or after the legal ID, but the ID itself must air in this format. To make station IDs more interesting, they can be made as jingles or surrounded by short radio dramas, statements about programming content, or celebrity endorsements. Only the legal ID is regulated by the FCC; programmers are encouraged to identify the station any way they please throughout the remainder of the hour.
Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
Informing listeners of events occurring in our community is one of the valuable services the station provides. Programmers are required to play or read at least one public service announcement per hour. The required PSA should be played at the beginning of the hour.
WGXC is a noncommercial station, and the FCC prohibits noncommercial stations from broadcasting advertisements of any kind. However, we are allowed to air underwriting announcements, which allow us to acknowledge the support of the business community. Underwriting is also a community service, as well as an important income stream for WGXC. Programmers are required to play underwriting announcements.
Part One: Promotional and Commercial Speech
As the holder of a non-commercial FCC broadcast license, WGXC must take great care not to provide direct promotions for business; This constitutes advertising and is prohibited by law. The announcement of local events that occur in our listening area is encouraged. We see this as a public service to our listeners, but great care must be taken to avoid crossing the line between public service and advertising. This section outlines our policies in this area.
Prices: Announcements containing price information are not permissible. This would include any announcement of interest rate information or other indication of savings or value associated with a product or business.
Examples: Ten dollars at the door for the benefit concert on Friday. (Instead of mentioning the price, you can point listeners toward the link on the WGXC Community Calendar page for more information.) They are the cheapest (product or service) around.
Inducements: Announcements containing an inducement to buy, sell, rent, or lease, are not permissible.
Examples: Movie admission free to museum members. Vivian's Chocolate Valentine chocolate for the first 50 people through the doors. Six months of free service if you sign up for locally provided internet now.
Calls to Action: Announcements containing a call to action are not permissible. The FCC disallows calls to action on public broadcasting stations. A call to action is a statement or phrase that commands or invites someone to action. The best way to explain this is to give some examples.
Example: "Bring lawn chairs and blankets." The word "bring" is a call to action--you are telling a listener to "bring" something with them. The compliant manner of stating this would be "Lawn chairs and blankets welcomed." You are not telling the listener to do something; you are merely stating that the event organizers will allow people to have these items with them.
Example: "Come to tonight's presentation of Such and Such." In this statement you are telling the listener to take action by coming to the event. The compliant version of this statement would be "The Such and Such organization will present Such and Such tonight." This simply says the event is happening and does not instruct a listener to be there.
Example: "Don't forget to get your tickets." "Don't forget" and "get" are both instructions to the listener to take action, in this case, get tickets. To be compliant you would say "Tickets available by pre-order only." You can see that it is the same message, which is to get your tickets ahead of time, but the language falls within the parameters of what the FCC and WLRH does permit.
Example: “For more information call 555-1234." The word "call" is clearly an inducement for a listener to take action, in this case to pick up their phone and "call." The same message is communicated by changing the language to "Information at 555-1234."
In the past the phrase "We invite you…" was not allowable. It is still considered a gray area. At WGXC, as PSAs are recorded by representatives of the organization making the announcement local representatives, it is allowable, as long as it is low key in nature.
As a programmer, you may not issue a call to action by asking or suggesting that the listeners perform a task which may result in raising money for an organization other than WGXC. You may state that a new CD by "MC Whoever" is available at "The Little CD Store" but you cannot tell listeners to go there and "buy it on sale now for $12.99." For announcements of events, ticket prices cannot be mentioned, but a phone number or website should be provided where listeners can get that information.
Value-neutral descriptions: You cannot qualify a product, service or event as something that may be more or better in some way than another event, service or product. The FCC disallows public broadcast outlets from comparative language in describing products, services, or events. Commercial broadcasters can say that something is the best, or number one, or one of kind, but we cannot. We can't even use language that will suggest that.
When describing something in value-neutral terms, describe the actual event, product or service exactly as it is without embellishing language. Here's an example of what is allowable:
"The Such and Such organization will present their annual spring concert this Saturday at 6 p.m., and will feature the music of Grammy winning artist, So and So. Lawn chairs, coolers and blankets will keep you comfortable under the night sky. Information at 555-1234." Here's a similar example that is not allowable:
"The Such and Such organization, one of the leading organizations of it's kind, will present their fantastic annual spring concert this Saturday at 6 p.m., featuring the country's favorite artist, Grammy winning So and So. Lawn chairs, coolers and blankets will keep you comfortable under the night sky. Information at 555-1234."
Promoting local organization fundraisers: At no time will WGXC promote an organization's fundraiser unless it can be promoted strictly as an event. A concert to raise money for a service organization can be promoted as a concert with a brief statement in the body of the announcement that states who will benefit. An example is: " …Proceeds benefit Such and Such organization."
This is the only statement allowable in a PSA to acknowledge a beneficiary. Words such as "fundraiser" are not allowable. There are some fundraising activities that we simply cannot promote, no matter how worthy the cause because the language cannot be modified. Examples include silent auctions and yard sales. WGXC does not permit mentions of an organization’s event sponsors in PSAs.
Tone of PSAs: The tone you use when reading PSAs is important. PSAs must sound consistent with our other announcements. PSAs that read like a commercial, even with compliant language and content, are inconsistent with our overall presentation and will be pulled from our rotation.
Additional language/content guideline: All PSAs must end with "Information at…" This creates a "consistency of sound," an important component of WGXC's overall identity. Do not qualify the word "information" with words like "further" or "more." A website or email address is also acceptable with or without a phone number, but may not include added language.
Many of WGXC's programmers cover topics in their shows that they specialize in professionally. This can add a valuable perspective to the discussions that they air, but programmers and their guests may never engage in promotion of the programmer’s own business ventures on the air. It is implicit in our mission that no individual, business, or organization should profit financially from the use of these public airwaves. A programmer or guest's professional qualifications or business affiliations may be referred to during a show where appropriate, for credentialing purposes only. In keeping with our goal to maintain a barrier between professional gain and the use of our airwaves, we also ask programmers to follow these additional guidelines:
• Use references to your professional accreditation or credentials.
• Use contact information for your program that is NOT the same as your business contact information (including websites).
• When providing contact information for a guest that is the same as their business contact information, refrain from repeating it too often. Contact information should be announced at a predictable time during your broadcast, preferably at the end.
• Disclose any affiliation that might affect or have the appearance of affecting your coverage of a topic, organization, or event.
• When appropriate, identify your opinions as your own and those of your guests as their own and not those of WGXC and/or Wave Farm.
If you have a band and you have a gig, are an author and have book release, etc., submit it to the WGXC Community Calendar on the website, post it to the online programmer forum and let your fellow programmers know you are available to go on their shows. You can also leave a copy of your CD or book at the Hudson studio, to be reviewed/played by other programmers. Don't ever go on the air simply to promote yourself.
Compensation in the form of either PAYOLA or PLUGOLA is illegal.
Payola refers to receiving any kind of consideration to play someone's music or feature a product or guest.
Plugola refers to the on-air promotion of goods or services in which the programmer has a financial interest. The standard situation is where the programmer promotes a club, music store, or concert in which they have an undisclosed personal interest.
Do not accept money, services, goods, or other valuable consideration from anyone (individuals, organizations, associates or other entities) to broadcast anything and don't promote any activity or matter in which you have a direct or indirect financial interest.
Part Two: Obscenity, Indecency, and Profanity
Although the First Amendment provides broad protections from government regulation of speech, broadcasters do not enjoy the same expressive rights as individual citizens. This is because broadcasters are trustees of the public airwaves (a limited resource) and the act of broadcasting itself is “pervasive” – radio waves are everywhere, and thus the likelihood of inadvertent exposure to objectionable speech is considered serious enough to regulate.
The Federal Communications Commission prohibits or restricts three forms of speech in particular: obscenity, indecency, and profanity.
Obscenity has been defined by the United States Supreme Court to be hyper-sexualized material that is “patently offensive” by “contemporary community standards” and most importantly, “lack[s] serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” Obscene material may also be indecent and/or profane, but it must meet these three specific criteria. Obscenity is not allowed on the public airwaves at any time.
Indecency is defined by the FCC as content that “depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive to contemporary community standards…sexual or excretory organs or activities.” If this sounds similar to obscenity, you’re right – except that indecent material does have some redeeming social value. The FCC only allows the broadcast of indecent material between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (these are called “Safe Harbor” hours).
Profanity is defined by the FCC as “language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” In simple terms, profanity involves the use of expletives and grossly offensive pejorative speech. Like indecency, profanity may only be broadcast between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The FCC’s enforcement process regarding indecency and profanity is complaint-driven, and those who complain have to provide documentation – including information relating to the details of the broadcast, the date and time it occurred, and station information. The FCC will ask for a response from the station, examines the context of the complaint, and then determines if a monetary penalty is warranted. Fines for indecency can range from the thousands to millions of dollars, but the majority fall within the $1,000 - $100,000 range.
In recent years, the FCC’s regulation of objectionable speech has come under significant legal review, and there are now open questions about the continuing viability of such regulation in the context of our modern media environment. But the current definitions and regulations stand and will continue to be enforced until these questions are resolved.
In a nutshell: keep your programming clean if you broadcast outside the Safe Harbor hours, which constitute the majority of the broadcast day. During Safe Harbor, it may be a good idea to warn that some of your programming may be unsuitable to sensitive listeners if any of it may be considered indecent or profane. If you have specific questions about profanity, indecency, or obscenity, please contact WGXC’s Community Programming Coordinator or Station Manager.
Part Three: Hate Speech and Sensitivity
WGXC takes seriously its mission to promote access to the airwaves for under-represented voices as well as its responsibilities as a community organization. Speech that is intended to or has the effect of hurting or intimidating any individual or group of people, or incites violence, is considered hate speech. Broadcasting hate speech undermines the mission of our station and compromises our community's trust in us. Don't do it.
Beyond the issue of hate there are larger issues of sensitivity. We ask that you make it your business to be sensitive to different listeners in our community. It is not uncommon in the United States for underrepresented and/or marginalized groups of people to be portrayed unfairly in the media. What you may consider funny or idiosyncratic about a group of people is often not funny and even offensive to that group. Put yourself in the shoes of others and behave accordingly.
Part Four: Equal Access for Political Candidates
Coverage of political elections, particularly local ones, is a valuable service a community radio station can perform for listeners. While it is not in the interest of this station to limit discussion of any topic or access to any guest, there are certain implications for the station as it pertains to political candidates. Here is what the FCC has to say about it: When a qualified candidate for public office has been permitted to use a station, the Communications Act requires the station to "afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office." The Act also states that the station "shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast" by the candidate.
We do not consider either of the following two categories as a "use" that is covered by this rule: An appearance by a legally qualified candidate on a bona fide newscast, interview or documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject covered by the documentary); or on-the-spot coverage of a bona fide news event (including political conventions and related incidental activities).
What this means is that if you invite a qualified candidate for political office onto your show, even if only to discuss fishing or worm composting, the station is required to provide equal time to any and all opposing candidates for the same office, if they so request. The Station Manager will help to facilitate such requests. You may be required to yield some of your airtime to make this possible.
Regular programmers already serving as elected officials seeking re-election or first-time candidates for office must observe a 60-day hiatus prior to any election.
Part Five: Opinion, Slander & Disturbing Content
When expressing your opinion, please make it known that you are speaking for yourself and not WGXC or Wave Farm.
Do not slander. Slander is defined as making a false, malicious, or defamatory statement against an individual or group. Ultimately, you are legally liable for any on-air statements you make.
At any time, if you decide to air content that may be inappropriate for children or may otherwise be disturbing, please warn listeners in advance of and periodically throughout your broadcast so that they have the opportunity to avoid that content.
Part Six: Co-hosts, Guests & Phone Calls
It is not uncommon for programmers to share their airtime, either regularly or irregularly, with a co-host. Multiple hosts can create a more dynamic and compelling program. However, please be aware that co-hosts may not operate any studio equipment other than a microphone or telephone (for call screening, etc.), unless the co-host is also a fully-trained programmer at WGXC. The show’s programmer of record is ultimately responsible for everyone’s on-air conduct.
Programmers may invite any individual(s) they desire to be guests on their shows. All guests and their behavior are the responsibility of the programmer who invited them. Any WGXC policy and FCC regulation infringements committed by a guest are ultimately the responsibility of the programmer, and any warning points that may result will be directed at the programmer.
Choose your guests wisely, and prepare them for how they should conduct themselves on the air. Make every effort to inform guests, prior to broadcast, of exactly what kinds of speech they may not engage in. If a guest violates policy or is uncooperative, the programmer has every right to restrict the guest's access to the air. This also applies to all call-in guests. To allow any guest to violate FCC speech regulations (obscenity, indecency, profanity) puts not only your own show but the station’s license at risk.
FCC rules regarding telephone conversations require that we inform all callers that their conversations will be broadcast. This applies to both live and recorded programming that uses telephone conversations. Airing a person’s comments over the phone, live or recorded, without their consent can result in FCC sanctions that may jeopardize WGXC’s license.
Part Seven: Aliases, Anonymity & Credits
All programmers should identify who produces their show in some way during their show — for most programmers, that is you. When discussing strong opinions or airing content that may be controversial, please remind WGXC's listeners that the views and opinions expressed are not those of the station or Wave Farm. Hosts do have a right to use an alias on the air, and are required to disclose when a guest is using an alias on the air. However, you must properly identify yourself on all show and broadcast records.
Studio Use Priorities
There are many different functions occurring in WGXC’s broadcast studios at any given time: live broadcasts, prerecording, training, etc. A priority system for studio use clarifies and streamlines scheduling needs. These priorities are as follows:
Reserving a Studio
Contact a staff member to reserve a WGXC studio for recording or editing time.
No WGXC equipment may be used or borrowed without proper training. Requests for training should be directed to WGXC staff.
Please note: programmers and volunteers are prohibited from sleeping overnight in WGXC studio facilities (with the exception of Wave Farm artists-in-residence in Acra). If the actions or behavior of a person at a studio is deemed inappropriate by a WGXC staff member, s/he will be asked to leave.
Hudson Studio Access
Hudson Studio access at times outside regular business hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) shall be granted to programmers and volunteers only with the approval of the Station Manager and as needed to facilitate live programming. The Station Manager shall keep a log of all individuals who have access to the studio outside of business hours.
Acra Studio Access
Acra Studio access shall be granted to programmers and volunteers only with the approval of the Station Manager and Artistic Director. The Station Manager and Artistic Director shall keep a log of all individuals who have access to the studio outside of business hours.
Programmers may use office space and equipment for WGXC-related business only.
It is the shared responsibility of WGXC staff, programmers, and volunteers to assist in keeping station facilities tidy. As a general rule, leave the space cleaner than you found it.
No food or drinks are ever allowed in WGXC’s broadcast studios.
When transitioning between shows in a studio, programmers must leave the studio promptly, with all of their program materials so that the next programmer can begin their program with focus and a clean slate. Many programmers make arrangements with the programmer on the air before them that allows for some studio overlap. These arrangements should be made between programmers a case-by-case basis; please keep in mind that not all programmers are able to function comfortably with others in the studio.
WGXC’s listeners are invited and encouraged to send feedback regarding the station’s programming to email@example.com or (518) 291-WGXC (9492).
WGXC’s Station Manager will review the feedback account on a daily basis. Messages for programmers and staff will be forwarded promptly to those individuals. General comments and complaints from the listening public will be responded to within two weeks of the initial contact. Any feedback submitted by programmers, volunteers, or staff that is determined to be a dispute or complaint will be flagged and the sender will be directed towards WGXC’s Dispute and Complaint Resolution policy.
The Station Manager will prepare periodic feedback reports to the staff, Wave Farm's Executive Director and Board of Directors. Feedback reports are intended to aggregate all feedback WGXC receives — praises, criticisms, concerns and questions.