In addition to worrying about wardrobe malfunctions and Howard Stern, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating Bowdoin's WBOR 91.1 FM's broadcast license renewal and may shut down the station.
The issue is not censorship, but rather compliance with "public issue lists" and broadcasting public service announcements. While the station has complied with the most important part?making the announcements on air?the FCC has taken issue with the lack of record keeping over the last six years.
"The FCC's concern is that we did not make these [public issue] lists available immediately during the past six years, and that allegation is true," said Adam Paltrineri '07, WBOR's station manager.
"Due to the high rate of student management turnover, the procedures for publicizing these public issues lists fell through the cracks, and past management had no idea it was even a requirement. It is incredibly difficult to operate a non-commercial radio station and our management does an amazing job, but unfortunately this is an area where we have slipped in the past," he said.
After discovering the oversight, Paltrineri consulted the records of previous public service announcements and reconstructed the lists for the last six years.
"As of right now, we are up to date with our current public issues lists and continue to provide the community with quality programming which helps educate and inform all our listeners," Patrineri said.
The public service announcements are hourly message broadcasts about school dropout prevention, natural disaster relief, Red Cross blood drives, and other community concerns. Director of Security Randy Nichols and Assistant Director Mike Brown's radio show "Listen!" also qualifies as a public service announcement. Their show covers topics ranging from sexual assault to basic highway safety.
Toby Crawford '07, host of "The Classical Connection," calls the FCC's investigation "a lesson in government bureaucracy. It'd be awful if the FCC shut down the station, especially on technical grounds. It's not like DJs swear profusely or insist on plugging companies in their stock portfolio."
Charlie Ticotsky '07, host of "At the Bottom of Everything," agreed with Crawford's disappointment in the bureaucracy.
"WBOR provides a service to the Midcoast community in that it is a non-commercial radio station that plays music you never hear on bland, restrictive corporate radio station playlists," he said.
"The FCC should be investigating stations that censor music, like ClearChannel banning John Lennon's 'Imagine' and other songs after 9/11, or that play 30 minutes of commercials per hour, rather than small, passionate stations like WBOR," Ticotsky added.
To save the station, WBOR launched a letter-writing campaign and will send those letters directly to the FCC. The letter is available on the WBOR website and must be turned into the radio station before October 2.
"WBOR has served Bowdoin and the Brunswick community for over 50 years. In that time, the station has changed in ways nobody could have imagined in the past, from digital media to the incredible variety of music we play on our airwaves," Paltrineri said. "What hasn't changed is our commitment to serving the interests of Bowdoin and the greater Brunswick community. After all, our signal can be heard well outside the confines of the Bowdoin campus."