Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Whatever became of UMass Boston's WUMB's experiment to use student DJ's, or where are Felica Zhao, Colin Briggs, Jimmy Smith, Brittany Fernandes now?

At the tail end of former general manager Pat Monteith 25+ year reign (remember her? wonder whatever became of her, her disappearance was so abrupt and without ceremony...but we digress), UMass Boston's NPR radio affiliate, WUMB, instituted a program to train students to be evening DJ's. Apparently four made it through the training and went on air, albeit on a very short leash, having no say in the programming and just doing voice-overs for the songs normally selected by the music director for weekday play.

Read a period piece,

They call script reading talent?

on the WUMB website.
If the article has been sent down the memory hole, the October 13, 2011 article was captured and read here.

So where are Felica Zhao, Colin Briggs, Jimmy Smith, Brittany Fernandes now?
Why was the experiment aborted?
Why have no new student DJ's been trained/given air time?
Inquiring minds want to know, after all our tax dollars support UMass Boston.

"WUMBeatown" was written by an unattributed author for "The Mass Media, UMass Boston's Independent Student Newspaper," is copied in its entirity from


Nine students vying for your vote to DJ a new radio show
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    Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 8:47 pm|

    WUMB, the non-commercial radio station that operates in the bowels of our Healey Library, recently reached out to UMB students in the hopes of finding some fresh talent. Over 40 people auditioned in mid-September and now that number has been whittled down to nine students vying for the chance to host their own show.
    According to Pat Monteith, general manager of WUMB, there are two slots open for on-air talent; she also suggested that depending on the budget more students might be hired for behind-the-scenes jobs.
    Some students have voiced concern about the lack of airtime they have been given in the past at WUMB. In response to the question of whether this concern prompted the station to initiate the Talent Quest, Monteith said, "No, we've actually been trying for years. We used to have students on the air years ago."
    According to Monteith, UMB had a Radio Learning Program ten years ago that worked with the Communications department to get students involved in the radio station. A professor named Mark Schlesinger headed the now-defunct program, and when he left, "the whole program fell apart."
    Monteith said that WUMB had been keeping an eye out for someone internally who could properly train students. She also said, "I haven't seen any initiative from the university to try and help and give students credit or help them along the way. We can't take on the entire responsibility ourselves. "
    It is clear that proper training is not just suggested but necessary. In 2006 Congress passed legislation that allowed the Federal Communications Commission to raise the fine for on-air indecency from $32,500 to $325,000. That price would make a national station, never mind the regional WUMB, think twice about placing someone with no experience or training behind a live mike.
    Fortunately, one of WUMB's part-time staff employees has taught intro to radio classes at Boston University, among other schools. Albert Oram, better known by his on-air moniker Albert O, turned out to be the missing mentor for the UMB radio station.
    Finding the right person to teach what it takes to be on radio, coupled with the constant support for a student WUMB program from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Patrick Day as well as students, has allowed the Talent Quest to take shape. In fact, it was Vice Chancellor Day's idea to do an open competition looking for the students who would fill the newly available positions.
    So now with the talent found and being trained it comes time to decide not only who will host the show but what kind of music the show will play. WUMB has devised a way for the show to be an authentic UMB student representation.
    Students will vote online for which would-be DJs become the hosts. The candidates are in the process of recording demos that you'll be able to listen to online, and based on that you can vote for your favorite. The radio station has also collected a panel of about 30 students who volunteered to give their input on what type of music, out of the vast WUMB catalog, should be played.
    These efforts are sure to create a program that will be a representation of the varied student body at UMB. You can vote for the DJs at The show that one of our own peers will host is scheduled to air Monday through Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight.
    For the record, the article invites reader comments...

    Welcome to the discussion.

    I submitted mine, asking questions such as "why is WUMB run as a professionally-staffed AAA format NPR affiliate, rather than as an independent college/community freeform station like its sisters WMUA (UMass Amherst), WUML (UMass Lowell) and WUMD (UMass Dartmouth). Apparently they were perceived as too radical or subversive by the censors, they were never approved for publication.
    Felica Zhao, Colin Briggs, Jimmy Smith and/or Brittany Fernandes, if you are reading this I'd love to hear about your WUMB DJ experiences.

    ...and by the way, why did GM Pat Monteith depart WUMB in so hastily a fashion?

    Read Missing Pat Monteith at WUMB  from the Patriot-Ledger, 5/4/12.
    Perhaps it is time for that publication to do a follow-up story, too.

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