As the Fall 2016 semester gets underway, the KWDC radio booth sits dark and empty. But not for long, and not without controversy.
The student radio station has been off the air since the spring semester concluded in May.
Delta College’s administration maintains it was a move that had to be made due to Professor William Story’s retirement.
“My understanding is that KWDC went off the air this summer for scheduling purposes,” said the new dean of Delta’s Arts and Communications department, Chris Guptill. “We were in the process of hiring a full-time faculty to replace Will Story who retired and we did not have the faculty or staffing available to run the program, which is a class, over the summer. That is why it went dark.”
However, according to former KWDC General Manager Don Maszewski, this isn’t an adequate explanation.
“We had three adjunct professors ready to step in and oversee the program,” said Maszewski, adding that the adjuncts were even willing to supervise operations at the station as unpaid volunteers.
The station went dark for the summer.
The college insists that interruption in broadcasting was always meant to be temporary, but Maszewski said that was never communicated to him or anyone associated with KWDC.
“They told us the station would be closed indefinitely,” said Maszewski. “Indefinitely is all they would say.”
The closure had to be classified as indefinite because Delta didn’t know for sure when they’d have a replacement for Story. Those who worked at KWDC wouldn’t accept the uncertainty.
According to Maszewski, the KWDC staff saw themselves as serving the community, not just Delta College, so the group decided to find a new home.
Days after the semester ended Story partnered with the Peace & Justice Network’s Stone Soup internet radio station to launch KXVS, bringing with him Maszewski and several members of KWDC’s old staff as well as the station’s slogan, “The Voice of Stockton.”
Meanwhile, Delta continued to search for Story’s replacement.
Professor Adriana Brogger, a long-time adjunct, was eventually chosen to replace Story as head of the RTV program.
KWDC is scheduled to go back on the air Sept. 18. and Adjunct Professor Rodrigo Villagomez will serve as station manager.
But there may be issues re-establishing identity.
As of press time, visitors to KWDC’s website, kwdcradio.org, redirected to KXVS’s web page.
KWDC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are also redirected to KXVS’s social media sites. This, coupled with KXVS’s use of “The Voice of Stockton” was more than enough to catch the attention of Delta’s higher-ups.
Maszewski said he trademarked the phrase “The Voice of Stockton.”
However, a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database couldn’t confirm this. As for the website, Maszewski, argues he paid for the domain name out of his own pocket and it belongs to him.
A search revealed kwdcradio.org lists Maszewski as the owner.
According to Steve Airola, marketing expert and owner of Mindslap Media, this could force Delta to register a new domain name.
“The owner should be the name of the company or organization,” said Airola, who is not affiliated with Delta College or KXVS. “Otherwise disputes like this happen, and they’ve been happening more and more frequently.”
When asked about the typical outcome, Airola said it usually depends on the amount of web traffic the site in question has.
The more visitors to the site, the more aggressive the fight.
Delta College’s administration referred questions regarding KWDC’s website and “The Voice of Stockton” to Shelly Valenton, Delta College’s director of marketing, communications and outreach.
Valenton asked for The Collegian’s questions via email.
“Delta College owns the KWDC radio station and any and all websites and social media accounts associated with the station,” said Valenton in an email response.
Valenton went on to write, “… the District is working with legal counsel to preserve the District’s property rights and the relationship with the community.”
The issue could potentially cost the station some funding as well.
Delta provides a budget for KWDC’s operating costs, but relies on tax deductible underwriting from sponsors to supplement its budget.
Since “The Voice of Stockton” is closely associated with KWDC, some local businesses might assume that the new station is supporting Delta College when in fact contributions are going to KXVS.
“The College is a public educational institution funded by taxpayers and it has an obligation to properly steward public resources and communicate how those resources are used. We need to let the public know that a donation to KXVS is NOT a donation to Delta College and/or KWDC,” Valenton wrote in her email response.
At least one student proved this confusion is a legitimate concern.
“I thought they were the same thing,” said Delta student Leo Phillips when asked about whether he knew about the difference between KWDC and KXVS. “I saw the windows were all covered up so I went to the website and saw that they were on the Miracle Mile now. I just figured maybe Delta got a better place to do their shows.”
Regardless of how things play out between Delta College and KXVS, Brogger is excited for the future of KWDC.
The current plan is for more automated and pre-recorded content than there was before with only four hours of live programming per day.
The focus is on quality, not quantity.
“In terms of show content, it will still be student driven,” she said. “There are plans for some shows that myself and the program director have given thought to.”
Brogger and Villagomez stress that KWDC serves as an instuctional facility, and will be broadcasting shows that have production value worthy of being on the air.