Tuesday, December 05, 2006

 

Hello Again

Apparently all it took to snap me out of my rather apathetic state was a polarizing staff editorial in the Collegian. Interesting.

The editorial in question deals with the lack of funding for The Lion, a Penn State student-run, student-everything'ed slice of FM radio bandwidth. In the editorial, the staff suggests that maybe it would be a good idea if the College of Communications or UPAC (The allocation committee on campus) doled out some funds to keep the station afloat.

I defended the position of the paper earlier tonight on a radio show, but for the wrong reasons. Basically, I didn't know some things happening behind the scenes that, had I been aware of them, would have changed my viewpoint slightly.

My bad.

Many people within ComRadio, the station I moonlight for, are angry about the editorial. They perceive the passing mention of ComRadio to be some kind of slight by the Collegian. This is not the case. The paper simply stated a fact about ComRadio, though it did so in an unnecessarily sarcastic manner.

The point here is that funding for The Lion should not be determined by its quality as a radio station. I'll be the first to say that if that were the determining factor, The Lion would get a few pennies covered in feces. The College of Communications abandoned The Lion a few years ago when it became unhappy with the direction the station was heading in. So, in that sense, the Collegian might have wanted to do a little more digging into background stories in the interest of fine-tuning their editorial position.

Still, I agree with their core argument; that the station deserves funding because it is a learning tool for students. Having watched ComRadio grow throughout the past few years because of the dedication of a vast number of students, I can say that it isn't easy to break in and get started. It's not impossible, but it takes patience. This speaks to the quality of the programming on ComRadio, a great deal of which is professional grade.

The Lion isn't anything special. In a lot of ways, I'd say they are an embarassment to radio. But the bottom line is, someone over there is learning something. Even if that something is how not to act at a radio station.

So Chris, if the station is so bad, why keep it afloat?

The answer to that question is surprisingly simple. In fact, it is only three letters long.

W-C-W

WCW was the primary competition for the WWF/E in the late 1990s. For a good portion of the 90s, its programming was top notch, it had a huge fan base, storylines were fresh, the writing was good, and the weekly program, Monday Nitro, routinely kicked the crap out of WWF Raw. But the competition and the constant beatings made the WWF try harder. They pushed new stars, polished their craft, dreamt up new ideas, and before too long, they were so dominant that they pushed WCW out of business, acquiring the brand name.

Bad idea.

The WWE has since floundered through a period of creative stagnancy. With no "other game in town" to beat, the writers got complacent, the wrestlers started working more formulaic matches, with less effort to boot, and the product quality took a precipitous dive. The WWE is still trying to pull itself out of this quagmire.

I'm not suggesting that competition between ComRadio and The Lion is the same way. It isn't. The Lion is light years behind ComRadio in every aspect. It speaks to the professionalism, dedication, and creativity of all parties involved with ComRadio that it has made such a positive impression and impact all over campus.

However, part of the motivation for people at ComRadio, whether they admit it or not, is to bury The Lion even further. Students at ComRadio don't like The Lion, and vice versa. The knowledge of another entity there, even a subpar one, keeps many of the students at ComRadio producing the freshest, most original content they're capable of. ComRadio, by all rights, should have taken over the FM bandwidth occupied by The Lion long ago.

What everyone needs to realize, though, is that competition is what drives this excellence. The Lion might not be any good, but it is still there, and it occupies the FM spot that ComRadio feels it deserves. ComRadio has been banging on the door to get that FM slot, and the door might break very soon. But to do away with The Lion now would be a big mistake. Give them their funding, take away their FM slot and give it to ComRadio, and put The Lion on the Internet. Make it work its way back up the ladder.

Misguided at times though they were, the Collegian had the right idea, even if they didn't intend it to be that way. Keep The Lion, keep the competition, and the excellence from ComRadio will continue. Maybe The Lion and the students who man it will attempt to make something of themselves when given a shot in the ass.

No matter what happens, I know one thing for sure. If The Lion stays, ComRadio rolls along, better than ever. If The Lion goes, ComRadio, like the WWE, risks becoming complacent, content to rest on its laurels.

And whenever that happens, you risk sinking into a quagmire.


The Mauler

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