Northern Community Radio Volunteer Resource Book Last Update: May 2013 Introduction 3-4




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Northern Community Radio Volunteer Resource Book

Last Update: May 2013

Introduction 3-4

Mission ………………………………………………3

Governance and Ownership ………………………………………………3-4

The Role of Volunteers 4

Training 4-5

Policies and Procedures 5-7

Volunteer Monitoring ………………………………………………5

If You Feel Mistreated ………………………………………………5

Visitors at KAXE ..………………………………..……………5

Program Content ………………………………………………6

Promotion ………………………………………………6

Public Service Announcements ………………………………………………6

If You Must Cancel an Airshift ………………………………………………7

Broadcast Delay ………………………………………………7

Payola/Plugola/Conflicts of Interest………………………………………………7

Music Library 8-9

Legal Operation of a Radio Station and the FCC 9-11

Introduction ………………………………………………9

Transmitter Operation ………………………………………………9

Emergency Alert System ………………………………………………10

Logs ………………………………………………10-11

Underwriting Announcements ………………………………………………11

The Public File ………………………………………………11

FCC Inspections ………………………………………………11

Northern Community Radio’s Structure 12

Northern Community Radio’s Staff 12-14

Audience 14-15

Programming Philosophy and Know-How 16-27

Northern Community Radio’s Programming Policies….…………………………16

How to Use the Mike ………………………………………………16-17

How to Talk to Listeners ………………………………………………17-18

How to Write for Listeners ………………………………………….…...18

A Good Break ………………………………………….…...18-19

Underwriting Announcements ………………………………………………19

Music Programs ……………………..………………….…….19-21

Internet Considerations …………………………..…………….…….21

Programming Rules: The RIAA and the DMCA………………………………….21-22

Public Affairs ………………………………..……….…….22-23

Interviews ……………………………………..….…….23-24

On-Air Phone Interviews ……………………………………….…..….24

The Studio/Office Telephone System ………………………………………….…24-25

Weather …………………………..………….……….25

The ENCO Computer ………………………………..…….……….25-26

Program Reviews and Definitions ……………………………………..………..26

Making a Copy Of Your Radio Show …………………………………….26-27

Northern Community Internet 27

Fundraising 27-29

Evaluations 30

Northern Community Radio History 30

Appendix A—Definitions and Acronyms 31-33

Appendix B—On-Air Evaluation Form 34

Appendix C—Program Focus Statements and Core Values 35-36

Introduction

Northern Community Radio MISSION:



Northern Community Radio builds community through radio programming, cultural events and interactive media.

91.7 KAXE, operated by Northern Community Radio, is the first and oldest community/public radio station of its type in the United States (that “type” being a large, community-licensed station serving a rural area). Northern Community Radio was founded in February of 1971. It has distinguished itself as a public broadcasting organization actively involved in the communities it serves. The people and environment of northern Minnesota are the “stars” of Northern Community Radio’s program services. Northern Community Radio provides interactive media, helping listeners become personally involved in issues and projects affecting their communities. It is often used as a friend and companion. Northern Community Radio doesn’t simply serve northern Minnesota; it contributes to the quality of life in our region.

Northern Community Radio operates 91.7 KAXE’s 100,000-watt radio transmitter in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and translators in the communities of Brainerd and Ely. In 2012 it opened a new 50,000-watt radio station to serve the Bagley/Bemidji area, 90.5 KBXE. KAXE and KBXE operate together, sharing programming across most of northern Minnesota from studios in Grand Rapids and Bemidji.

About 61% of Northern Community Radio’s programs are locally produced—concentrating on the culture, environment and people of northern Minnesota. KAXE and KBXE broadcast an integrated, mixed-format music program that is designed to be a sound track for people’s lives in northern Minnesota, called On the River. On the River is an artistic mix of folk, rock, blues, jazz and world music. Each On the River program is hand-made by Northern Community Radio volunteers, who bring their own talents to producing this program together.

Northern Community Radio also produces local news and public affairs programming on the Morning Show, and provides a variety of cultural and entertainment programs like Between You and Me, Green Cheese, Centerstage Minnesota, and the Beat.

For the other 39% of the program schedule, Northern Community Radio provides National Public Radio programs like All Things Considered, Morning Edition and World Café; programs from Public Radio International like Living on Earth; and independent productions like National Native News and For the Birds.

Northern Community Radio is known for its concert series and for its active involvement and live broadcasts of community events from around the area. It is a regional hub for participation and community building. It was one of the very first radio stations in Minnesota to audio stream its programs on the Internet.

Volunteers are an integral part of the service Northern Community Radio provides. The contributions of volunteers add considerable depth and sparkle to the sound of KAXE and KBXE. Volunteers lend their expertise to a variety of programs and organizational endeavors, and are highly valued. This handbook has been compiled as a resource for Northern Community Radio volunteers to help them create the best radio programming, events, and interactive media content possible.



Governance and Ownership:

Northern Community Radio, Inc. (NCR) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), IRS and State of Minnesota tax-exempt charitable organization. The corporation is a membership organization as defined by state statute. KAXE and KBXE are classified by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as community licensees, meaning the stations are licensed to a community-based nonprofit like Northern Community Radio. The community interest is served by a governing board, as opposed to an educational licensee owned by a university board of trustees, or a government licensee owned by a state or tribe or other unit of government. A 10-member board of directors owns KAXE and KBXE on behalf of the communities they serve. The board is also the seat of ownership for Northern Community Radio’s other organizational activities.

Because NCR is a membership organization, members can vote in board elections (four of the ten board positions are elected and 6 are appointed). Certain procedures must be followed and quorums adhered to relating to the conduct of annual meetings and special meetings. In contrast, for example, although Minnesota Public Radio is a community licensee, it is not a membership organization. Its board of directors can be entirely self-perpetuating and their actions are not subject to a vote of its “members”—because there are no actual members.

The Board of Directors of Northern Community Radio, Inc. currently chooses to operate under a standard of conduct defined by a system called policy governance that it created for itself. In the hierarchy of corporate documents, the board’s governance policies fall beneath the bylaws that in turn are beneath the articles of incorporation. The policies address 4 realms of board action—the board’s job role (how the board acts and what it does), the board/general manager relationship (how the board’s power is delegated and monitored), a set of policies restricting the authority of the general manager (means constraints), and a set of policies which define organizational outcomes or ends.

The staff develops an action plan to carry out the policies of the board. Copies of policies, bylaws, and articles of incorporation are kept in a notebook next to the copier in KAXE’s office and in the hallway closet on the shelf where the public file is kept at KBXE’s studios.

The Role of Volunteers

Volunteers are an essential part of Northern Community Radio’s operation and identity. Use of volunteers is one way Northern Community Radio shares access to the airwaves and brings local flavor, perspective and attitude to its programs. Volunteers provide a creative boost for everyone, bringing artistry and information to listeners. Over 100 volunteers help the organization achieve its mission to build community in northern Minnesota. They host music programs, participate in public affairs programs, serve on the board of directors and community advisory board, and help bring about special projects of Northern Community Radio. Volunteers help with food and phones during pledge drives, manage public service announcements, and sometimes assist with web site management, engineering and construction. Northern Community Radio is committed to using volunteers to produce a significant amount of its program content. The organization is able to provide a much more interesting media experience to the community due to the thoughtful and creative contributions of its volunteers!

Northern Community Radio’s broadcast programs are designed and scheduled to be useful to listeners and sensitive to the way most people use radio. Program scheduling and program policy development are up to the program director (PD). Most of NCR’s local programs have been created or reviewed in a process that uses staff, volunteers and community stakeholders to identify the program’s focus statement and essential elements. Program descriptions that have been created by this process can be found at the end of this document.

Volunteers help Northern Community Radio achieve its mission. They represent the organization to the public. To do a good job, a volunteer must follow program guidelines, achieve competency in on-air performance, keep up with changing technology, follow the rules of NCR and regulators, and treat the audience with respect. Volunteers are expected to perform creative, high-quality radio programs that satisfy the Board’s programming policies. KAXE and KBXE are full-powered public radio stations. This is not amateur radio. Being an on-air volunteer is a serious responsibility, but it can be rewarding, fun, and educational.



Training

New on-air volunteers are usually trained in a class; some may be trained individually by the program director or other staff at the direction of the PD. Training consists of listening, observation and playlist development. No one may operate the station without training. Volunteers may not train other volunteers for on-air work except with the permission of the program director. Volunteer classes are offered two or three times annually, in Bemidji or Grand Rapids.

Non-air volunteers are trained by a variety of means, from simple telephone answering during fundraisers (taught by the member services manager), to board of directors orientation, handled by the board itself.

Skill development, growth, and technical know-how are essential for successful volunteering at Northern Community Radio. Workshops and training sessions are offered regularly. Attendance at workshops is important for volunteers to keep up with changes in broadcasting rules and regulations and for developing and updating skills.

Volunteers may also attend the annual NFCB or other radio workshops. Reimbursement may or may not be available for travel and/or fees associated with attendance (check with the general manager for availability).

Policies and Procedures

Volunteers do a wonderful and valued job at Northern Community Radio but not everyone is cut out to be a volunteer and no one is “entitled” to be a Northern Community Radio volunteer. Just like staff, volunteers serve “at will” and can be dismissed at any time for any reason by supervising staff (program director, community access coordinator, music director or general manager).



Volunteer Monitoring:

The board of directors periodically conducts volunteer monitoring in accordance with their governance policies. Usually, this monitoring consists of an anonymous survey, but other means may be used at the discretion of the board. This is a normal process and does not imply any particular issues or failing on the part of volunteers or staff.



If you feel mistreated:

Northern Community Radio wants its volunteers to be treated with respect. As a volunteer, you are entitled to express your opinion (in a civil and appropriate way) on matters that affect you. You can also expect to be given opportunities for professional growth and training.

If you feel that a Northern Community Radio policy or a state or federal law has been violated to your detriment, or if you feel that the organization’s policies do not adequately protect your human rights as defined under state or federal law, or if you feel you have been the victim of harassment with respect to sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, or other protected classes defined by the Civil Rights Act, you may bring your concerns to the music director. If the music director is the source of the complaint, of if the music director considers but does not adequately address your issue, you may go to the program director. If the program director is the source of your concerns, or if you have followed procedures that take your concern first to the music director and then to the program director, and you still feel conditions violate law or your human rights, you may take your complaint to the general manager. The general manager is the final authority in determining such issues.

General complaints not based on the above--including disagreements about programming, airshifts, or dismissal—do not warrant use of this process.



Visitors at KAXE:

Bringing visitors to the station during your airshift is discouraged due to the potential to distract you from the demands of being on the air and paying attention to listeners. However, almost every volunteer brings a guest at one time or another. If you have a guest with you, remember to keep your mind on your program. Do not allow guests that have not completed Northern Community Radio’s volunteer training classes to operate the control console or other equipment. Volunteers are responsible for the actions of their invited guests, including theft of music or equipment.

The last staff member to leave the station each evening will lock the doors. You do not have to open the door for anyone. NO STRANGERS should be allowed on the premises during your airshift. If you feel uncomfortable, if an uninvited person refuses to leave at your request, or if the legitimacy of any person’s business at Northern Community Radio’s offices and studios is in question, call staff and/or the police. NCR is a private non-profit and is under no obligation to be open to the public after office hours or on weekends.

Program Content:

Volunteers are expected to air programming that achieves the program descriptions that have been developed by the program director and the organization. This is how Northern Community Radio meets the listening expectations of the audience.

Programs may not contain content that is considered offensive according to generally accepted community standards or that contains indecent material or obscene or profane language as defined by the FCC. Think of the organization’s mission when selecting material. Programs may not contain material that fails to help Northern Community Radio achieve its mission of building community. If in doubt, don’t play or say questionable material. According to the law, you may be held personally responsible if the FCC issues a fine due to program content that you air.

All programs or program segments or other content created by volunteers for broadcast or webcast or other distribution are the sole property of Northern Community Radio. Such programs may be broadcast, webcast or distributed by other means. Volunteers do not retain ownership or distribution rights to programs or content created while volunteering for Northern Community Radio or for which they are paid an honorarium or production fee.

In general, Northern Community Radio’s programs are more content-driven than personality-driven (although there are exceptions). Your on-air delivery should be authentic and free from “DJ hype.”

As valued and important as volunteers are to NCR, listeners come first. This is key to the organization’s survival. Programs are designed to entertain listeners and meet their expectations. Volunteers are expected to behave as professionals when they are on the air. Volunteers do not “own” the programs they host, nor do they have proprietary rights to certain airshifts (at some stations programs have actually been “willed” from one volunteer programmer to a successor!). Volunteers host On the River in a variety of time slots. It is generally discouraged for any one volunteer to host the program in the same time slot week after week.



Promotion:

Volunteers may not use Northern Community Radio’s broadcast facilities for any promotion without following the normal procedure for processing announcements and/or receiving permission from staff. This applies especially to promoting anything in which the volunteer has self-interest (this unethical broadcast practice is called “plugola” because it robs the station of potential revenue). This policy also extends to events, concerts, bands, parties, festivals etc., in which the volunteer may have no self-interest, and applies to all promotion, even promotion for good community causes. The FCC is specific: “The licensee must deem it in the public interest to broadcast the message.” Northern Community Radio must maintain control of everything that is broadcast. It must operate within strict noncommercial FCC guidelines that may not allow certain promotion, or only allow it under special circumstances. This is discussed in more detail on the next page, under the section on “Payola, Plugola and Conflicts of Interest.”



PSAs:

Northern Community Radio is happy to air public service announcements (PSAs) and press releases from nonprofit organizations and actually seeks to do so as part of the mission of the organization. NCR gladly accepts such announcements from volunteers if the announcement is sanctioned by the originating organization. Such announcements must, however, be processed by the normal means and be subject to legal, licensee control. Any one such announcement may not receive more attention than other, similar announcements.



If You Must Cancel an Airshift:

Please let the music director or program director know as soon as possible. The more notice you can give, the better. If the music director or program director are not in, inform other staff or the volunteer on duty. It is best if you can actually talk to a human being if your airshift is imminent and action to cover the shift has to be taken. If the airshift in question is a few days in the future, leave a note on the music director’s desk or send an email.



Broadcast Delay:

There is a delay installed between the production console and where the audio you produce in the studio actually goes on the air. This is so you can “dump” content that is unacceptable if you play it by accident. Keep the broadcast delay on at all times. This is for your and the station’s protection in avoiding fines for transgressions of the FCC rules for broadcasters. This means you must listen in “program” rather than “air” and keep the studio door closed (or you will hear the radio in the office that is delayed and it could both be distracting to you and audible to listeners).

Monitor your program! If anything goes out over the air that is forbidden by the FCC or Northern Community Radio’s policies, use the “dump” button to take the offensive content source off the air immediately! If you dump audio at one station, it will automatically dump at the other station (“simultaneous bi-directional dump”). There is more information about the broadcast delay unit in the technical manuals in the air studios.

Payola/Plugola/Conflicts of Interest:

Payments for promotion of music or artists that are made to on-air personnel and not to the station itself are known as payola. Payola is illegal. Plugola is harder to define—it is when a staff person or volunteer promotes or features anything on the air that may potentially benefit them financially, or benefit their professional reputation.


Regarding payola, any employee or volunteer at KAXE or KBXE who has any role in the selection of broadcast matter will not, on behalf of his or her own person:


  1. accept money, services, goods, or other valuable consideration from any entity to broadcast a program or program material, or

  2. promote any activity or matter in which he or she has a direct or indirect financial interest, or

  3. broadcast any material that to his or her knowledge requires sponsorship identification as outlined in the FCC’s regulations and that does not include the required announcements.

There is a violation of the plugola policy ONLY if BOTH of the following criteria are met:


  1. The volunteer has a professional interest in a certain artist, item or event.




  1. The volunteer promotes or features that same artist, item or event described in the previous sentence.

A volunteer is allowed to feature or promote artists, items or events that he/she does not have a professional interest in. Similarly, a volunteer is allowed to have a professional interest in artists, items or events, provided that the volunteer doesn't promote or feature it on the air.


Promoting or featuring something is defined as any of the following:


  1. Building a contest or giveaway around a certain artist, item or event




  1. Devoting a large section of one's program to a certain artist, item or event. For example, this could include an entire set of a certain artist or record label, or could mean a live broadcast of a certain artist, item or event, or a special (or entire) program devoted to a certain artist, label, item or event.




  1. Singling out a certain artist, label, item or event from other elements in a program for an extra special mention, whether this mention is special because of duration or enthusiasm.




  1. Urging listeners to purchase a certain artist, label, item or ticket or attend an event

PLEASE NOTE: You may present recordings or mention artists, labels, items or events in which you have a potential professional interest if the announcement or recording is merely one element in a larger regular program or feature, the item is not highlighted or emphasized over other items in any way, and it is not mentioned or presented in a promotional way.


For example, if a volunteer who has a music program also gives lectures about music for pay, he or she may announce his or her own lectures only if they are a part of a regular program feature which mentions many music-related events. It is possible for the frequency of such announcements or recordings to increase to such a point that their duration does present a conflict of interest. Also, if a program feature is manufactured for the purpose of including specific recordings or announcements, this constitutes a conflict of interest. For example, if our music lover gives out a list of music events only when he/she has a lecture to give, this is no good. Likewise, even if the "This Week n Music" events list is given out every week, if it was initiated only to allow the mention of his/her own lectures, this too will not wash.
Volunteers may not urge other volunteers to promote products or events in which they have a promotional interest. A volunteer who has an interest in something may follow normal promotional channels and may not do special interviews, announcements, live broadcasts or giveaways about the subject of their promotional interest without permission. The interested party must tell the licensee representative (disinterested party) of his or her interest in the matter.
If there is any question about whether some activity would constitute a violation of the conflict of interest policy, that question should be directed to the music director or program director before it can become an issue.
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