In general, colleges give student-radio and TV stations lots of freedom.
That’s the word Dylan Fisher would use to describe censorship.
“What one person thinks of as vulgar, another can see as perfectly harmless,” he said. “My feeling is that DJs should have enough common sense not to say something ridiculously offensive on air, but also listeners have a choice; they can change the channel, or turn off their radio if they don’t like what they’re hearing.”
The community around Grinnell College has heard Fisher’s show Just Play it Loud! on Grinnell College Radio (KDIC 88.5), since fall of 2010, when he and his friend Peter started it in their freshman year.
For Fisher, a rising junior, it began as a way to have their voices and favorite music heard. The pair eventually became less focused on the audience and took advantage of the free time in their busy weeks for them and their listeners to relax, kick off their shoes (literally and metaphorically) and listen to music.
Simple enough, right? Well, not so much.
Due to the radio’s small size, Fisher, an anthropology major, said they’re given quite a bit of freedom in how the shows are run, which creates what he calls “diverse and exciting programming.”
He claims the college itself doesn’t seem to be interested in setting restrictions on programming, except for profanity on air. DJs aren’t supposed to swear or play explicit music until after 10 p.m, a rule set by the Federal Communications Commission.
If it’s broken, the show and station could be slapped with fines.
Grant Margolin deals with music, too, but not over the radio.
Margolin spends his time at Syracuse University as an executive producer of Loud and Clear a production of the Orange Television Network. OTN, a student produced TV station, runs 24/7 throughout the school year.
Loud and Clear focuses on interviews with and performances by student musicians.
Music isn’t out of tune with Margolin’s lifestyle — the rising junior in the Bandier Program for Music and Entertainment Industries deals with it on a daily basis.
But, when it comes to the show, there are guidelines on what can be performed and heard. When performing musical works on the show, everything needs to be the artists’ original work.
Margolin said the Orange Television Network takes artistic copyright seriously, however, they make the point to allow the artists’ their own voices.
“We let the artists speak freely on their approach to music, as we believe it adds a deeper dimension and allows them to convey their artistic point of view,” Margolin said.
When it comes to schools’ censoring lyrics or skits, Margolin said it is a clear and direct violation of the First Amendment, as long as the material isn’t slanderous or libelous.
He’s been lucky enough not have direct experiences, nor heard of SU restricting anything.
In Rebecca Hwang’s mind, it’s something schools shouldn’t be doing. Ever.
“The purpose of higher education is to learn and broaden your perspective, which only comes with freedom of speech,” said Hwang, a rising junior at Boston University. “School is a place where people should feel safe to express themselves through writing, skits, TV, radio, whatever medium.”
And a place she feels safe to do just that is on The Hungry Terrier, a show that she co-founded in fall 2011.
The station, Butv10, is home to 19 other student-run shows in addition to the Terrier.
Hwang previously worked on a headline news show, and even then, she’s was never asked for the scripts to be screened or changed.
It’s a practice that she believes in.
“As a communication major, I’m a big believer in honesty and transparency, no matter how difficult the topic,” Hwang said.
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