MSA leaders skeptical of KCOU tower plan

MSA and KCOU will discuss revisions to a proposal to fund a new tower.
KCOU/88.1 FM Program Director Jonathan Hutcheson rallies for the student-run radio station Wednesday in Speaker's Circle. Legislation was introduced at a Missouri Students Association Senate committee meeting last night that would fund a new transmitting tower to allow the station to continue to broadcast.

A bill to fund a new transmitting tower for the campus radio station hasn't garnered support from MSA leaders.

KCOU/88.1 FM staff members met with Missouri Students Association committees Tuesday night to discuss a resolution to KCOU's transmitting tower trouble.

MSA Senator Josh Travis presented a bill in response to KCOU's need for a new tower. With the old tower on top of Hudson Hall, which will be renovated next semester, KCOU will either need a new $30,000 tower on Schurz Hall or a $36,000 power line.

But MSA President Jim Kelley and Vice President Chelsea Johnson said the bill doesn't include everything that needs to be addressed.

"I don't find the stipulations and requirements strong enough at this point," Kelley said. "We need to define measures of success together."

He cited the clause requiring business plans as one that set the legislation in the right direction.

Travis said he has been in talks with MSA and KCOU officials to meet and discuss the legislation.

The bill proposes MSA set aside $30,000 from the KCOU equipment fund for the purchase of the new tower.

The bill also states KCOU will be responsible for raising 5 percent of its total budget for 2010 and 2011, and 10 percent of its total budget after 2011.

If the bill passes, KCOU will also need to submit a two- to five-year business plan to MSA every year by Dec. 1.

Travis said he decided to help create the bill because he knew time was running out before Hudson Hall blueprints are finalized.

"Whichever way MSA wanted to go, a bill needed to be presented," he said.

Travis said so far his bill has garnered positive feedback from both senators and KCOU staff members, but the wording of the bill will most likely change before a Senate vote Wednesday.

KCOU General Manager John Dobson said he is happy with the outcome of Tuesday's meetings with MSA members and feels like they accomplished a lot.

"I was happy that questions were being asked," Dobson said. "It was handled a lot more transparently."

KCOU Program Director Jonathan Hutcheson said the bill would help strengthen the partnership between KCOU and MSA.

"It's appropriate that there are contributions being made from both sides," Hutcheson said. "This will lead to greater communication and coordination between KCOU and MSA in general, which can only serve to benefit all."

Travis said the communication between KCOU and MSA has been inefficient in the past, but he thinks this bill will change that.

"It allows MSA to make sure that KCOU is going in the right direction, and if they aren't, we can catch that and help them get back on the right track," Travis said.

Several MSA leaders and senators said a KCOU advertising campaign, which stated MSA was "trying to kill" KCOU, rubbed them the wrong way, but Travis said they had gotten past that.

"Now we're in the process of answering questions and finding a solution," he said.

Johnson said though it doesn't affect her, KCOU's advertising campaign might change the way MSA members perceive and vote for the bill.

Dobson said KCOU didn't intend to hurt anyone through its campaign, but feels it was effective nonetheless.

"The goal was to get everyone's attention and obviously it worked," he said.

Hutcheson said KCOU needed to approach the situation in a dramatic way to keep the radio station from "fading into the night with little notice."

Johnson said KCOU's advertising campaign misinterprets MSA's intentions.

"I was disappointed because their campaign gave a lot of false accusation," Johnson said. "It's not like we were going to cut them off without telling anybody."

During a student support rally Wednesday, KCOU toned down the language for its campaign. Dobson said all new materials printed would include the new, less controversial campaign phrase "Student government will decide the fate of your radio station."

Dobson said KCOU raised about $200 Wednesday, which will go toward the new tower regardless of whether MSA funds it.

Dobson said the station's staff plans to hold another rally at Speaker's Circle on Tuesday.

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