In 2012, four individuals came together to bring something new to Rochester’s airwaves – a community run, free-form radio station that would reflect the voices and vision of the citizens of Rochester. Johanna Buran, Genevieve Waller, Matt Werts, and Mike Yates have now put most of the pieces in place to begin broadcasting this June.
RocSubway recently caught up with Mike Yates to find out what still needs to be done to make this dream a reality, and what listeners can expect when they tune in to the new WAYO 104.3 FM…
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Ok Mike, so when last we covered WAYO’s journey to becoming a full fledged radio station, you guys had just kicked off an Indiegogo fundraising campaign so you could buy necessary equipment and had begun accepting applications for programming. Where do things stand now? At the moment all I hear is fuzz at 104.3.
MIKE YATES (WAYO): We conducted an Indiegogo campaign from mid August to early October last year, and through the incredible generosity of over 200 donors, we raised over $18,000. This amount got us very far along the way to achieving our financial goal. Since the end of the online campaign, we have pursued multiple strategies to raise funds. We’ve held fundraising events facilitated by our friends Vinnie Paulino and DJ Alykhan and featuring amazingly talented people like Cammy Enaharo and Dewey Lovett. We are selling merchandise including buttons, stickers, and a t-shirt designed by Nick Gurewitch. And we’ve also launched what we are calling an “Inaugural Sponsor” program – businesses and organizations are invited to invest in the start up of the station and receive underwriting spots commensurate to the size of their investment and permanent recognition on our web site as an inaugural sponsor. So far, Abundance Co-op, Bop Shop Records, Rochester Brainery, Rochester Community Acupuncture, and Small World Books have become inaugural sponsors. These investments—as well as revenue from events, merchandise, and individual donations—have brought us very close to our goal and we are now ready to begin purchasing studio equipment.
Besides financial goals, we have set a series of goals related to the infrastructure of the station. We’ve set a goal of an average of 18 hours of programming by human beings (as opposed to an automation system) a day. That means 126 hours a week. With nearly one hundred programs approved, we have 107 hours of programming a week lined up and with new applications for great shows being submitted with regularity, we will shortly reach that goal. We’ve set a goal of crafting an efficient and effective governance structure prior to launch. We have created a structure—informed by conversations with WGMC, WITR, and WRUR staff and by best practices conducted by these stations—and are currently working to recruit people for the leadership team. We’ve set a goal of having by-laws as well as policies and procedures in place before launch. By-laws are being drafted; a CPA is assisting us with developing financial policies; and a conflict resolution expert is assisting us with conflict resolution policies.
In short, we are crafting a financially sustainable, well-run station that will be built to last. We expect the fuzz at 104.3 FM to change in June to WAYO.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: You’ve been busy. Are you able to tell us what some of the programs will be? When can we see a schedule?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): The programs on WAYO will capture all the things that radio does so well. There will be shows playing music from around the world and across the decades in all different genres and hosted by radio veterans like Mr. Bill and Chad Oliveiri; local musicians like Jesse and Trevor Amesmith, Trevor Lake, Toshman Powell, and Jenna Weintraub; and a lot of people with fresh ideas who have never been part of a radio station before. Besides music-focused programs, there will also be radio drama by MuCCC Artists In Residence Philip Frey and Justin Reilly, comedy shows hosted by funny people like Woody Battaglia, interesting talk and interview shows like ceramicist Sabra Wood talking to artists about how music impacts their work, and innovative collaborations with organizations like Writers and Books and the Eastman School of Music’s Composition Department to name just a few. All of the programs are up on our website .
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: So who makes the programming selections… and how selective have you guys been? I mean have you had to turn any applications down?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): The selection process has been the station steering committee that has been coordinating station activities reviewing applications and making a recommendation to the MuCCC’s Board of Directors for final approval/disapproval. We had no idea what to expect, but the vast majority of applications have been great – exciting ideas and a good fit with WAYO’s spirit. Of those that were not accepted, many were people we sent follow-up questions about their application and never heard a response. Other applications were not turned down, but referred to other new radio stations where their idea would be a better fit.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Are you seeking out specific types of programs to round out what you have so far?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): There have been types of shows or people that we wanted to be part of the station from day one and that are going to have a show. And then there are ideas I would have never thought of and people I didn’t know before they applied who will be doing awesome stuff – the station will be so much richer because of all the stuff we wouldn’t have known to see out. That said, there are some music shows that we don’t have, and, personally, I’d really like to see – a disco show would be great, and maybe a show where I could hear some Mickey Newbury or Kitty Wells?
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM:Wow, I see a long list of names I recognize, many I don’t, and a super wide variety of topics and interests. And a Disco show would totally kick ass. Is there anyone in the community who you’d like to have a show who doesn’t already? If you could pick 3 personalities, who would they be and what type of show would you like to see them do?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): We are in talks with a lot of people right now, and I don’t want to put undue public pressure on people who are considering having a program but I’ll throw out a few people/organizations/ideas I’d love to have be part of the station.
The staff of the Visual Studies Workshop has been incredibly supportive of the station since the very beginning. I would love to develop some kind of “artist-in-residence” program with VSW to create works of sound art made expressly for broadcast on WAYO. Think of the success Adult Swim has had putting incredibly ambitious work that wouldn’t fit into regular programming like Too Many Cooks or We’re Newbridge, We’re Comin’ to Get Ya! on at 4 a.m. You could switch on WAYO in the early morning and hear interesting, unusual sound art without context or explanation. Or, perhaps scatter it throughout the day? The possibilities are endless.
We’re fortunate to be moving into a great space for our studio. As the former home to Saxon Recording, it has a big control room and an enormous performance area. Something I’d love to use the performance space for is a radio yoga class. We would have an instructor lead a yoga class of three people in the performance area of the studio, and people could follow along at home as if they had an instructional CD that gave you a new program every week. With organizations like Yoga 4 a Good Hood or Rochester Community Acupuncture exploring ways to break down economic barriers that prevent people from accessing wellness activities and care options, radio—being cheap to produce and free to consume—could be a powerful tool. Picture it: a Saturday morning yoga class over the air. Maybe the people in the studio doing yoga with the instructor are Eastman School of Music students? And then, after the yoga class, they practice live over the air? So, the listener at home does some yoga, and then has a cup of coffee listening to world-class musicians play informally. In a nutshell, the second answer would be yoga instructors and ESM students.
One of the beauties of radio is that you can listen to truly terrible, but somehow entertaining or engaging, music without having to pay for it, own it, or even think about it again. I mean, I played the Beatle Barkers multiple times on my WITR show. Could I listen to their entire album? No way. Is one Beatle Barkers song that was part of a larger set of music something I would be interested in hearing? Absolutely. So: my third answer would be Tom Kohn and Stan Merrell reviving their self-explanatory Shlock Hop on WAYO
And by the way, we ARE still accepting applications from anyone interested in doing a show.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: So there’s no audition process? Just an application and then some training, if accepted?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): We initially discussed a more rigorous application process, but decided to move forward with an application that asked pertinent questions but didn’t require a demo show or an “audition” which might have been a barrier for those without radio experience or comfort with technology to create a demo. We also wanted to be less rigorous because we were just starting out and have a schedule to fill. MuCCC Board Member John Borek talks about asking anyone he met at a party who seemed interesting if they wanted to put on a show at the MuCCC in order to fill the schedule in the venue’s early days. We’re in a similar situation now, and—just as the MuCCC’s process has changed due to the demand surpassing the supply of available time—I expect our process will change as the schedule fills up.
If our timeline works as planning, we are going to conduct a “soft launch” online for a month before beginning to broadcast over the air. This will allow us to work through the challenges that emerge and learn about the production needs of our programs by actually doing them. It also provides a space safe from the FCC for programmers to get comfortable with the equipment, see if the time commitment they made is actually feasible, and of course, get used to operating under FCC regulations. This will be an “audition” in the sense that it will be a way to see if the programmer(s) show up on time, operate the equipment (with necessary training), and can do a show that is FCC appropriate.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: If everything goes according to plan, what does WAYO look like in 5 years, and beyond?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): My hope is that in five years WAYO, for our volunteers, is financially sustainable, has effective leadership, and has excellent means to develop new leadership and smooth succession. For our listeners, my hope is that WAYO is seen as a place to hear exciting and idiosyncratic music from across the decades and around the world, a place to experience work by the amazingly talented people in our own community, and a place to create innovative collaborations between people and organizations. Really long term? I think it would be the greatest if, in twenty years, a brand new programmer came up to me and said that they grew up listening to WAYO, it was really important to them, and now they get to be a part of it.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Now, I know your team has a bit of experience in the music and radio businesses—at WITR, WXXI, WBER, etc.—but this still seems like a Herculean endeavor. What are your worst fears in pulling all of this together. Is there any one thing that keeps you up at night?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): To me, creating a leadership team that makes the commitment to the time and work necessary to running the station and works as a team is the key to everything. We could have $50,000 in the bank, the best programming, and a huge public presence, but if we don’t have a good leadership team it would all fall apart. And just because we are broadcasting at 100 watts, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to take care of all the things present at a 10,000 watt station. It isn’t a fear, per se, but figuring out a path to creating a high functioning team is the thing that keeps me up at night.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Is there anything that hasn’t fallen into place yet? And how might the community help?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): People can always help by spreading the word about the station, engaging with us by volunteering to be a programmer or help out behind the scenes, or making a donation if financially possible (and there will be some really great stuff for sale very soon on our website). As for things that are still falling into place, we need to lay the groundwork to move into our studio, build production capacity, and develop a music library.
If you have carpentry skills, the owner of Saxon Recording, Dave Anderson, needs assistance to help him complete work on the new Saxon Recording space. While this isn’t directly helping WAYO, the sooner Dave’s new space is complete the sooner we can move into the Fedder space.
If you have production skills, we are looking to build a pool of people that can be on call to assist with recording live in-studio performance. We can also connect people to specific shows to assist them with production needs as well.
If you have music you’d like to share with the station, send it over for our music library.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Anything else you’d like to let people know?
MIKE YATES (WAYO): Yes… We have a bunch of events coming up.
On March 29 at Needledrop Records we are having four musicians; R. Nuuja, Zachary Rooney, John Schoen, and Pam Swarts collaborate to create two 15 minute pieces live in the store. The pieces will be available on CD for a donation by the end of the event. The cardboard sleeve housing the CD will have original art by artist Ray Ray Mitrano drawn directly on the sleeve during the course of the event. Mike Rheinheimer (of Attic Abasement) will also be playing a headlining solo set. Join the event on FaceBook here .
WAYO programmer Woody Battaglia is curating a series of comedy shows benefiting WAYO at the Firehouse Saloon on the last Tuesday of the month until the station launches. The first show is 3/31 and features Madelein Smith as a headliner as well as Shannon Dawn, Malcolm Whitfield, and Michael Colon. Tickets are $5.
On Record Store Day (4/18), WAYO will be selling copies of the 7″ record created for the Indiegogo campaign exclusively at Bop Shop Records. About 40 of the 100 copies of the 7″ are earmarked for donors to the campaign; leaving around 60 available for a donation to the station. The 7″ features Jeff Haschmann (No Glitter), Ben Morey (Howlo), and Katie Preston (Pleistocene) performing two covers; the song by The Flintstones faux-Beatles the Wayouts on the A side and Danny Hutton’s “Roses and Rainbows” on the B side. Clips of the songs are available on SoundCloud . We also expect to have some bands play in the store during the course of the day but are still locking down those details.
And if you donated to the WAYO Indiegogo campaign, your perks are coming very soon. We have the stickers, buttons, and t-shirts made. The CDs and posters will be ready next month, and the 7″ will be back from the press by the end of the month. Thank you for your patience and, of course, for your donation.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Alrighty, well, thanks for “sitting down” with us, Mike!
MIKE YATES (WAYO): Thank you!
Tags: interview, Mike Yates, WAYO, WAYO 104.3 FM, WAYO radio
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