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February 14, 1980 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-02-14

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, February 14, 1980-Page 7

AR TS COMMENTARY
WIQB goes to POP,WCBN increases wattage

THANO'S CO.

514 E. Washintion

By MARK DIGHTON
For years, two Ann Arbor radio
tations - WCBN (88.3 FM) and WIQB
103 FM) - have been the cornerstones
of this city's musically liberal clientele.
Now that situation has changed on one
front and may be endangered on the
other.
Less than one week ago WIQB, which
had previously featured a diverse mix-
ture of both standard FM rock and ad-
venturous new wave rock, underwent a
radical change in format. Though they
till bill themselves as "Rock 103,"
WIQB's sound is now only a step above
Muzak. You can listen for hours without
hearing a "rock" song, unless you con-
sider the Bee Gees or Barry Manilow~to
be rock and roll. The station's reper-
toire runs the gamut from country &
western to disco, but the entries from
all genres have one thing in common -
an anemic lack of energy bordering on
rigor. mortis. Every single song is
uniformly sweet, mellow, and
ignorable. The only variety comes in
he transition from a saccharine soft-
rock ballad to a harmless disco ballad.
THERE IS a quite legitimate reason
for this schizophrenic shift in format,
however - money. One need not read
overtones of capitalist oppression into
that statement, though. The fact
remains that a commercial station such
as WIQB has to have a large enough
audience to draw companies into sup-
porting the station by buying commer-
cial timA. That simply was not hap-
pening with WIQB. It had a dedicated,
but limited audience. As Randy Z,
WIQB's program director, put it, "We
were maintaining," but only that.
Equipment was in need of repair, but
the station lacked the funds to improve
their equipment .. or ratings.
Even if one doesn't see the chain of
events at WIQB as some sort of con-
spiracy to reduce us all to mental
toothpaste, one has to quesiton WIQB's
abupt "about-face" in format. Surely
no one can fault a station that wants to
put music on the air and bread on the
table for compromising\ enough that
they are able to sell commercial time,
but "compromise" is as far a cry from
"sell-out" as the appealing, innovative

music they used to broadcast is from
the drivel that now slurps out of their
frequency.
ONE HAS TO recognize that there is
a very dangerous conception of music
afoot at WIQB. It is evident in the proud
way they refer to their new format as a
"product" in their press releases,
almost as if they could bottle it and put
a lable on it designed scientifically to
cause a scientifically designated
housewife to pick it up. It is no coin-
cidence that this young female market
is exactly the market they have target-
ted for this new format. Now you can
yell "conspiracy."
WIQB has picked up on another
prevalent theory in modern music
marketing - the lowest common
denominator is always the highest in
ratings. The new WIQB format was
determined by surveys covering the en-
tire Washtenaw County area. What they
discovered, to even their own surprise,
was that the "mellow magic" of WMJC
was preferred to the likes of WRIF. So,
they have adopted the same musical
policy. It is truly ironic to hear a WIQB
representative complain about the lack
of cohesiveness in the old format when
they presently will play any song that is
popular in any market. While it's true
that "just about anybody could like it, if
they gave it a listen,". that is true only
because they attempt to cover all
MOR musical bases without ever doing
justice to any particular one.
THE SADDEST comment on this
whole issue is that nothing really can be
done about it. Even a mass public out-
cry would not change this course of
events. Since there were not enough
people to maintain that format in the
first place, there certainly won't be
enough to get the station to revert to its
previous form. The only thing that

could change this progression would be
for the radio-listening public to develop
at least the moderately innovative sen-
sibility formerly found at WIQB so that
that type of format could become com-
mercially viable. Let's face it, we
really can't blame what happened on
the staff or owners of WIQB. Un-
deniably, pressures exist from "the
system" to push for the lowest common
denominator in music,, but we can't
discount the tendencies toward con-
formity to mediocrity found just as
strongly in the audience.
Luckily, WCBN does not face the
same commercial pressures. They can
continue to fill the diverse and par-
ticular tastes of their audience without
having to worry about what the spon-
sors think of "Why Can't I Touch It?"
by the Buzzcocks. That is not to say that
they are completely without worries.
Recently, the FCC declared that after
January 1, 1981 they would not protect
the frequency rights of any Class D
Educational station broadcasting at
less than 100 watts. That doesn't mean
that the FCC would shut down WCBN
(which happens to fit under that
category), but they might license
another nearby station on a similar
frequency that would have enough wat-
tage to functionally blast WCBN off the
air.
The folks at WCBN have already un-
dertaken the necessary steps to in-
crease the station's wattage from their
present 10-watt output to a 200-watt
level. The decision was made to go to
200 watts instead of the 100-watt
minimum simply because the cost is
about the same. The station's general
manager, Ann Rebentisch, feels very
positive that there should be no
problems with their increase. Even at
200 watts, WCBN would have a broad-
cast -range of only five miles, which
couldn't possibly interfere with any
other station. That is the FCC's only in-
terest, that any two stations not conflict
with each other. They have no interest
in comparative audience size or for-
mat.
NOW IT'S mostly a waiting game.
According to Ms. Rebentisch, it will be
another six months to a year before the

FCC reaches a decision on increasing
WCBN's wattage. The installation of
the proper equipment will require
another six months. In addition, there
are numerous bureaucratic hassles
(such as approval from Canada to in-
crease their range) which may cause
unforeseen delays.
Along with this increase in power and
potential audience, WCBN staffers also
hope to upgrade the station's technical
capabilities. The Regents and MSA
have already agreed to foot the bill for
the increase in wattage, but there are
still quite a few incidentals, such as
microphones and tape recorders, that
need to be bought or repaired to bring
WCBN up to par for a station of its
projected size. To pay for these pur-
chases, WCBN's staff have elected to
try something they have never done
before - a fund-raising campaign. It
will consist of an 88.3-hour on-the-air
fund-raising drive beginning on Thur-
sday morning and culminating in a live
broadcast Sunday night from the
Michigan Union Ballroom featuring
five local bands. Ms. Rebentisch feels
that this fund-raiser is more important
as a means of acquiring visible public
support than money. They will try to
avoid the "heavy pressure and guilt
trip" used by most public stations to
secure pledges.
So, if there is a moral, to this story, it
must be that you pay either way you go.
We can't do much about the big-bucks
backing needed by a commercial
station like WIQB, but it is reassuring
to know that we as individuals at least
have a chance to effect our airwaves
with non-commercial alternatives like
WCBN. Idon't want to tell you what to
do with your money, but one listen to
the new WIQB should reinforce the im-
portance of maintaining that one last
bastion of musical eccentricity, in-
dividuality, heterogeneity, and the
American way -WCBN.

welcomes you to
SUNDAY BRUNCHES
with complimentary champagne
from 11:30 to 4:00

Also, we would like to introduce our new place to you with
the some pizza recipe as Thano's Lamplighter.
From 4-11 on Sunday nights, our pizzas will be 2 price
and there will also be special beer prices.
We wait to serve you starting Sunday, Feb. 3
WEDNESDAYS are BEER NIGHTS

A VISUALLY STUNNING FILM WITH
MUSIC COMPOSED AND PERFORMED
by
STEVIE WONDER
TOMOR ROWPO4
(UPPER LEVEL)
MON, TUE, THUR, FRI
7:0;-9:30
SAT-SUN-WED
1:05-3:05-5:05-7:05-9:30
A SYMPHONY OF
BEAUTY AND LIFE

t
4
1

A2

8mm film

fest returns

Head Group Presents An Infinite Enterprises Production THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS
Music and Lyrics by Stevie Wonder Eecutive Producers Paul Kantor and Burt Kliner
Screenplay by PeterTompkins, Wakes Green and Michael Braun Produced by Michael Braun
GGENERAL =Directed by Walon Green A Paramount Release
ALLsac ArrteuAN t"ResweL L ]

By DENNIS HARVEY
For most people, the idea of watching
an 8mm film conjures up images of
Junior's first steps or Mom and Dad's
cruise to -the 'Bahamas; gloriously im-
mhortalized by their Band-held Kodak.
But amateur filmmakers have long
used 8mm for more interesting pur-
poses than home-moviemaking, and as
16mm prices and interest in making
film continue to rise, 8mm is fat
*becoming a popular outlet for anyone
interested in using the medium
creatively. Some of the most
imaginative and best of these efforts
will be competing for over $1,500 in
awary money at the annual Ann Arbor
8mm Film Festival, the largest and
oldest event of its kind in the country.
The entries demonstrate the wide op-
portunities for creativity that 8mm of-
fers, and the individual programs will
include a far-ranging variety of
amateur documentaries, live-action
spoofs, dramas, animated films, ex-
perimental projects and occasional
movies that defy any kind of
classification.
ACCORDING, TO festival director
Gerry Fialka, a record of over 193 films
were entered this year from all over the
United States, Canada, Brazil and
Italy. Fialka says that the inexpen-
siveness of working with 8mm means
that a winning festival film can be
produced and entered for as little as
$12; as a result, the estimated 100 effor-
ts that will be chosen for festival
screening will span from flicks under
three minutes in length to amateur
epics like the 60-minute Long Island
Four and the 76-minute Blind Lead.

"Not only do we showcase a wide
variety of formats, genres and
techniques, but we also offer a chance
to view popular culture, from fantasy to
slice-of-life. Most people don't ever see
8mm films in an auditdrium environ-
ment, and what we do is give folks a
,chance to see what's happening in 8mm
in a pleasurable setting," Fialka states.

Ann Arbor will get that chance this
weekend, February 15-17, at Schorling
Auditorium at the School of Education.
The Friday shows will be at 7 and 9
p.m., the Saturday shows at 2, 7 and 9
p.m., and Sunday┬░nightthe-festival
winners willbe re-shown at 7 and 9..
Admission to each program of this Ten-
th festival is $1.00.

'4

Don't think you can guide Cupid's dart-
And St. Valentine fumbles. Get smart!
If you try this address,
Your love will say "yes."
League food is the way to the heart.
M.B.
U.M Sendy
TheMchigan Manag
Ld .77227 Sc
Next to Hill Auditorium You S
Located in the heart of the campus. ticket
it Is the heart of the campus one o

CAFETERIA HOURS;
11:30-1:15
5:00-7:15
SNACK BAR
7:15-4:00
your League Limerick to:
ger. Michigan League
iouth Ingalls
uill receive 2 free dinner
s if your limerick is used in
A our ads.

-V

STARTS TOMORROW
- MON, TUE, THUR, FRI 7:30-9:15
SAT-SUN 3:00-7:30-9:15

Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor

Do a Tree
c Favor:
Recyle
Your Daily

A

***tky~*******
CEDAR
Ohio,

AC EMBASSY PICTURES- a
POINT AMUSEMENT PARK, Sandusky,
will hold on-campus interviews for

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