The Wire

Student Handbook and Operations Manual

























Fall 1999

H. H. Herbert School of Journalism

& Mass Communication

1. Operations

1.1 General Rules

1.1.1 Eligibility

  1. Anyone wishing to work at The Wire must be enrolled for the current semester at the University of Oklahoma.
  2. In addition, students wishing to work as AIR TALENT, NEWS REPORTERS, NEWS ANCHORS, or NEWSCAST CREW must enroll in the appropriate Journalism & Mass Communication course for the current semester. These courses include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
  3. JMC 3011 (Practicum)

    JMC 3653 (Radio News)

    JMC 3773 (TV News)

    JMC 4673 (Advanced Broadcast News)

    JMC 4970 (Radio-TV Performance)

  4. Exceptions:
  1. Paid student staff members are not required to be enrolled in specific JMC courses.
  2. Currently enrolled students who are also OUCB members in good standing are eligible to work on programs produced by that organization for The Wire without further enrollment requirements.

1.1.2 Use of facilities

Equipment, studios, and other facilities belonging to the University of Oklahoma, the H. H. Herbert School of Journalism, or The Wire are to be used for approved educational purposes only. Private personal use of these facilities is not permitted. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the School policies on equipment and facilities use and will not be permitted to check out equipment unless they have a signed Equipment Liability Policy and Agreement form on file in the engineering office.

1.1.3 Visitors

Visitors are not permitted in Wire48 studios during broadcast times, with the following exceptions:

Wire staff who admit visitors to the facilities are responsible for their conduct.


1.1.4 Security

  1. The OMU studio should remain locked at all times it is not in use, and at any time there is not a Wire staff member physically present in the studio (e.g., restroom or smoke breaks).
  2. The Copeland Hall studio area outer doors should remain locked after regular hours. Students working the last shift each day must be sure both the studio and outer doors are closed and locked before leaving.
  3. Students checking out equipment must guarantee its security. See the Equipment Liability Policy and Agreement (Appendix 1).

1.1.5 Controlled Substances

  1. Tobacco: The use of tobacco products is prohibited in all facilities. If you need to smoke while working at Wire48, step outside (and don't lock yourself out).
  2. Alcohol: Possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the facilities of Wire48 is prohibited at all times.
  3. Controlled Substances: The unlawful possession, use, manufacture, distribution, or dispensation of other controlled substances is prohibited on all University property.

1.1.6 Penalties for violations

Violations of the operational rules of The Wire may result in reprimands; reduction of grade; or termination and/or failing grades. In addition, violations of §1.1.5 (b) or §1.1.5 (c) may be referred to campus disciplinary authorities. Students will receive written notice of any violation and penalty.


1.2 General Programming Guidelines

1.2.1 Announcing and Music Presentation Style

The format on The Wire requires an up, but not overly excited, delivery. Above all else when the microphone is open, be clear, concise, consistent, lucid, friendly, enlightening, and entertaining. A few specific suggestions on how you can achieve the goal follow.

  1. Prepare for your show. Have things to talk about that will entertain your audience as much or more than the music itself. Keep up with other cultural forms, news, and especially university events. Although music is our focal point, it's not our only way to relate to the audience.
  2. Arrive at the studio early enough that you can check for any important messages and are relaxed (or pumped up, whatever your personality demands) and ready when your shift begins. For most people that will mean getting there 20 or 30 minutes beforehand, never less than 15 minutes before air time.
  3. Follow the log (both music and spots), and keep your breaks short.
  4. Know what you’re going to say each time before you open the mic. Don't think out loud on the air ("ummmm…" sounds really bad on the radio, especially if it becomes a regular feature of your show). And beware of other vocal quirks and crutches (tongue clicks, "okay," "alright," etc.).
  5. Read all copy (PSA’s, underwriting announcements, weather, etc.) before you open the mic.
  6. Incorporate "here and now" information into your raps--not only time and temp, but also what’s going on (on The Wire, on campus, in Norman). Focus on both the immediate past (yes, let your listeners know what you just played) and future (what’s coming up).
  7. Always be conscious of program levels, as mastering levels on recorded material vary. Make sure that your voice levels match the recorded sources, and that various recorded sources match. Do not over- or under-modulate.
  8. The Wire is not your personal soapbox, and you are not Howard Stern. Had a fight with your significant other? Promoter stiffed you on a couple of comps? Spent too much time in the line at the _______ office across campus? There's a difference between sharing a brief story about something that happened that your audience relates to and cares about, and conducting a personal gripe session in public. One is (at least potentially) entertaining; the other is not. Leave your problems outside the studio (and note the section on Defamation below).

One final note: each student disc jockey should purchase several 60-minute normal bias cassettes for airchecks--you should always aircheck your show. This serves several purposes. First, listening to yourself can help you avoid falling into ruts and bad habits. Second, aircheck tapes will provide a basis for performance evaluation by the class instructor. Finally, for students interested in pursuing on-air careers, tapes provide essential material for job hunting.


1.2.2 Content Issues

A. Obscene, indecent, or profane material

All programmers and on-air participants are urged to use good judgement (leaning towards extreme caution) regarding all words and material used over the air. Although we are not an FCC licensed facility, the average listener/viewer doesn't know that, nor do they care. Most of the audience will assume that programming available on basic cable falls within the same general content range as the programming on broadcast stations. Therefore, we will operate as if we are subject to broadcast standards for profane, indecent, or obscene material.

The FCC defines broadcast indecency as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs."

Note three key parts of the above definition. "Language or material" includes both visual and aural material. "In context" means that not only is explicit material covered, but also double entendre and implied or simulated activities. Finally, "community standards" are not your standards, your roommates’ standards, your instructor’s standards, or even the standards of your peers in the target audience. "Patently offensive…by contemporary community standards" means offensive to the broadly defined community, and according the FCC, this is actually a national standard.

The use of potentially indecent material (indecent or profane language, or visual depictions of nudity) is relegated to that programming where such material is part of an artistic, literary, or documentary piece consistent with the aims and context of the subject matter. All materials containing nudity or any of the following words in a lewd or profane context are defined as potentially indecent and therefore sensitive: shit, piss, ass(hole), cock(sucker), (mother)fuck(er), cunt, pussy, dick, or tit(s).

Programming containing sensitive material will be aired only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., only with the prior approval of the program director or station manager, and must always be immediately preceded by the following statement:

"The following programming contains sensitive language which may be

considered unsuitable for children or more sensitive (viewers/listeners).

Wire48 urges you to exercise your choice of whether or not to listen to

this program (material)."

Programming that lasts longer than 15 minutes and contain multiple instances of sensitive material must repeat the above warning at least once each quarter hour.


Material is obscene if

(a) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

(b) the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and

(c) the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Obscene material is prohibited at all times.

Any programmer confused about the suitability of any material must get a clarification from the station manager or faculty adviser before the questionable material is broadcast.

A special note to programmers scheduling their own music: realize that this policy includes music that you put on the air. You are responsible for what you broadcast. Your ignorance of the subject matter of any material, including recordings, is no excuse for putting restricted material on at any time. Programmers should preview any materials about which they have the slightest suspicions. This also applies to tapes as well as any material in any language - not just English.

Persons in violation of these policies face penalties that may include suspension or termination from WIRE48 and/or grade reductions for related courses.

B. Defamation

A defamatory statement is essentially one that negatively changes the way someone is viewed by others. More specifically, any false, malicious, or negligent statement that tends to hold a person or business up to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, causing them to be shunned or avoided by others is potentially libelous.

Slander and personal attack carry the potential for legal action. Anyone making such comments over the air will lose their show permanently and receive a failing grade.

1.3 The Music

1.3.1 The basic format

The Wire's core format is college-style alternative rock (alternative rock with an emphasis on smaller, independent labels and locally popular bands, and a broader playlist than commercial "alternative" radio). The emphasis will be on current and recent releases. In line with Wire48's mission to further students' professional training within the educational experience, music selection and scheduling are handled in a fashion similar to current industry standards. Artists and songs are selected for airplay by the music director. Music is scheduled by the music director under the guidance of the instructor and faculty adviser. Playlists are reported weekly to CMJ New Music Report.


1.3.2 Other program blocks

Students interested in presenting other kinds of music (or non-music) programming should contact the faculty adviser to make an appointment to discuss their idea as soon as possible. Once the program time slots are assigned and the semester begins, no additional block program proposals for that semester will be considered. Programmers must commit to programming their assigned slot for the entire semester (excluding vacation and final exam dates). Time is available weekend mornings and evenings. Music programs should be 1-3 hours in length. Non-music programs may run 30 or 60 minutes. Opportunities for modular program features (1-5 minutes) also exist. Proposals for modular features may be submitted at any time.

Be prepared to describe and discuss the program at your meeting with the adviser (length, content, target audience, any potential underwriters, host, other personnel involved). If the faculty adviser feels the idea has merit, students will then be invited to submit detailed program proposals to the program director. Written proposals should be 1-2 pages and include the following:

Wire48 eligibility rules (§1.1.1) are in effect for block programming.

1.4 Norman News

The School of Journalism produces a daily 30-minute newscast, which airs at noon with a repeat broadcast in the early evening. Students working shifts adjacent to the newscast times are expected to be familiar with transitioning between music and news, and to cooperate with reasonable requests from newscast producers and advisers.

1.5 Other Information Programs

A variety of information and public service programs air following Norman News Monday through Friday.


2. Frequently Asked Questions

2.1 What do I do if the person after me doesn't show up for their shift?

Air talent should arrive between 15 and 30 minutes before they are scheduled to be on-air. You should always be aware of who is supposed to come on after your shift. Schedules and a phone list are posted in the studio, and you can call the person to see if s/he is on the way. If you can't reach the person scheduled to do the next show, keep the programming rolling and call the instructor.

2.2 What if I can't make my shift?

It is your responsibility to find a sub for your shift except in the case of severe illness. The instructor should be notified as soon as possible of any changes.

If you are unable to find a substitute after a reasonable effort, or in emergency situations, contact your instructor for help.

2.3 I have a friend who's in a band. Can I play their CD/interview them/promote their next gig/have them play live in the studio?

All things are possible if (a) the material deserves exposure and (b) it goes through the programming department (the instructor and music director). Artists looking for airplay should submit CDs, tapes, videos to the music director. Interviews must be approved in advance (and generally will be, especially if we're playing the music). Performances must be requested at least one week in advance in order to coordinate facilities use. Requests for live performances should go to the faculty adviser, with copies to the operations assistant and the production director.

2.4 I'm in a band. Can I play our CD/promote our next performance/play live in the studio?

See the answer to 2.3 above. Because it raises plugola concerns, under no circumstances should you play your own material or talk up your own shows without prior approval of the instructor.

2.5 The (piece of equipment) isn’t working. What should I do?

If the problem occurs during daytime hours, notify the engineer immediately (his office is next to the Copeland Hall studio, phone number is on the staff list below). If the problem happens at night or on a weekend, fill out a trouble form and leave it in the operations binder. Describe the problem in as much detail as possible ("CD 1 isn’t working" doesn’t help the engineer nearly as much as "CD 1 wouldn’t cue up track one on the Drunk Driving PSA disc"). Do not attempt to repair equipment yourself.

If the problem is with the transmission itself (i.e., we’re not getting a signal out), notify the engineer and the station adviser immediately regardless of day or time.


2.6 I can’t find a song or spot that’s listed on the log. What should I do?

Note the discrepancy on the log and fill out a trouble form.

2.7 I just got a song request. Can I play that song next even if it’s not on the log?

Maybe. The appropriate response to the caller should be warm but decidedly non-committal–something like "thanks for calling, I’ll see what I can do." Log the call on the phone sheet listing the song and artist requested (this is useful information for the music director).

If we have the song; and you believe the song fits in the stream of what you’re playing; and playing the song in a given position won’t violate music rotation rules…then, and only then, should you play the request.

Above all, remember that we’re serving a broad audience, not working as somebody’s personal jukebox.



Staff contact list










xxx-xxxx (O)

xxx-xxxx (H)


xxx-xxxx (O)

xxx-xxxx (H)


xxx-xxxx (O)

xxx-xxxx (H)



xxx-xxxx (H)





(station manager)

xxx-xxxx (O)


(program director)

xxx-xxxx (O)

xxx-xxxx (H)

(production director)


(promotions/traffic manager)

xxx-xxxx (O)


(news director)

xxx-xxxx (xxx-NEWS) (O)