*     Welcoming Statement from the Public Gallery of Carrboro Board of Directors


*     Steering Committee: contact information


*     Mission Statement


*     Why You Should Care About Community Radio


*     How It Happened


*     Get Involved


*     Station Etiquette


*     WCOM Operating Format and Principles 


*     How It Works




Public Gallery Board of Directors: Ruffin Slater, Peg Nolan, Jacques Menache



Steering Committee:  


Ernie Hood             bkthrough@earthlink.net                   Development Co-chair

Kerisha Roi Hicks    kerisharoi@yahoo.com                  Development C0-chair

Leo Reynolds                   leoreynolds@attglobal.net      Operations

Solomon Gibson III  sgibson1@bellsouth.net                Programming

Sean Wellington        talkofhope@gmail.com                  Volunteer Orientation





The mission of WCOM is to educate, inspire, and entertain the diverse populations of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and nearby by facilitating the exchange of cultural and intellectual ideas and music, with particular regard for those who are overlooked or under-represented by other media outlets.  We seek to provide a space for media access and education by placing equipment, skills, and critical tools in the hands of the community.



   Time OutHome Power HourAmeri-KantuDouble DutchWake Up CallClaudio`s SpeakEasy: The Literary and All ElseMusic HallSpectacular Magazine Radio ShowPlaceholder Show Wisdom`s Soft Whisper Melva`s Musings On Jazz                                                         

“Three reasons why freedom of expression is essential to a free society.”


 “It's the foundation of self-fulfillment. The right to express one's thoughts and to communicate freely with others affirms the dignity and worth of each and every member of society, and allows each individual to realize his or her full human potential. Thus, freedom of expression is an end in itself — and as such, deserves society's greatest protection.

It's vital to the attainment and advancement of knowledge, and the search for the truth. The eminent 19th-century writer and civil libertarian, John Stuart Mill, contended that enlightened judgment is possible only if one considers all facts and ideas, from whatever source, and tests one's own conclusions against opposing views. Therefore, all points of view — even those that are "bad" or socially harmful — should be represented in society's "marketplace of ideas."

It's necessary to our system of self-government and gives the American people a "checking function" against government excess and corruption. If the American people are to be the masters of their fate and of their elected government, they must be well-informed and have access to all information, ideas and points of view. Mass ignorance is a breeding ground for oppression and tyranny.”

Freedom of Expression – ACLU Position Paper January 2, 1997  http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/freedom-expression-aclu-position-paper






WCOM radio plays an integral role in maintaining freedom of expression at the grassroots level by:

·         Strengthening the "cultural health" of a region through supporting local artists, musicians, authors, and other cultural activities

·         Empowering citizens by providing a forum for a diversity of viewpoints and ideas

·         Giving the opportunity for expression to those underrepresented by  mass media

·         Promoting awareness of community-based organizations and services

·         Offering an effective instrument for community development

·         Complimenting state and local educational efforts




Get Involved

Wcom is the product of the energy, talents, enthusiasm and dedication of its many volunteers who believe in community radio.  When you become a WCOMer you join a group of people who are willing to go above and beyond the ordinary to enable this non-profit, low-power community FM station to continue broadcasting grassroots radio.  WCOM has no paid staff, therefore you are part of a cooperative endeavor that depends on the responsible involvement of each and every person in order to continue.         

          You can do this in a number of ways by:

·         attending General Meetings

·         attending WCOM sponsored events

·         contributing ideas to appropriate committees

·         volunteering to follow through on those ideas

·         becoming a committee member

·         adhering to established station policies

·         contacting committee chairs when you have a question

·         e-mailing volunteer@wcomfm.orgwith suggestions for improving this WCOM Volunteer Manual, and

·         by getting to know your fellow volunteers, having fun and helping to build the WCOM community






WCOM Station Etiquette


  • Ensure that all equipment is left in optimal position/connection for incoming DJ/Program Host.
  • Refrain from using alcohol or illegal drugs while anywhere on the WCOM premises. No intoxicated individuals are allowed on the air.
  • Refrain from bringing food into the on-air or production studios, or from smoking anywhere in the building.
  • Refile all music in the proper location immediately after your show.
  • Maintain station cleanliness.
  • Do not bring pets into the broadcast studio.
  • Use appropriate containers for disposing of trash and recyclables.





WCOM Operating Format and Principles


WCOM is an all-volunteer, self-governing entity sponsored by, and operating within the guidelines of, the Public Gallery of Carrboro, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  This statement of operating format and principles was created by volunteer consensus to facilitate the daily operation of, and the long term planning for, the radio station.  It is designed to be open to adaptation in the future to accommodate the reality of the station as it evolves and matures.      


Committee Rights and Responsibilities:


Committees will:

·         meet on a regularly scheduled basis

·         post meeting times and locations at the station and maintain an open attendance policy

·         accept as decision making members persons who demonstrate their interest in contributing time and energy to supporting the purpose and responsibility of the committee.  (It is recommended, not mandated, that a cap of 10 members per committee be maintained.)  The exception is the Steering Committee.  The Steering Committee will also maintain an open attendance policy but decision making membership is limited as described in the following section. 

·         feel empowered to make decisions and take actions that fall solely within the parameters of their stated responsibilities and purposes

·         operate on the consensus of members concerning all committee projects

·         provide oversight of and accept responsibility for all committee projects

·         keep WCOM as a whole up-to-date about activities

·         select a representative and an alternate to the Steering Committee (St. C.) who will commit to participating in the working committee they represent and in St.C. meetings and to serving as a two-way communications conduit between the St. C. and the working committee they represent.

·         ensure that committee meeting minutes are kept and available   

·         resolve conflicts at the committee level, if unresolved at the committee level conflicts should be referred to the Steering Committee and from there to the Board of Directors who will serve as final in-house arbiter.  The full conflict resolution policy is available as a separate document.



Steering Committee:


The Steering Committee will:

  • provide a communication conduit between the PGBD and the station committees/volunteers by including a member of the board on the committee
  • provide inter-committee communication and cross-fertilization of ideas
  • streamline trans-committee decision making
  • support and evaluate the progress of committee projects/plans
  • assist in giving strategic direction to the station
  • make decisions based on the consensus model
  • maintain a rotating membership consisting of one person plus an alternate chosen by each working committee
  • have the option of including two at-large community members
  • serve as the decision making body for expenditures that fall within the approved budget, expenditures that go beyond the approved budget will first be submitted to the PGBD for approval before being acted on
  • meet no less than once a month 
  • serve to resolve conflicts that are referred to it by committees

Communications Committee:


The Communications Committee has four key focus areas:

  • public relations/media relations/publicity

*     solicit free or bartered publicity from area media outlets

*     act as conduit/contact point for media outlets

*     maintain PSA output

·      volunteer coordination

*        recruitment

*        orientation

*        maintain list of all volunteers

*        updating and production of Volunteer Manual

  • website maintenance, consisting of

*     design and layout revisions

*     content updates and revisions

*     creation of new content (text, forms, graphics)

  • newsletter

*     create and maintain newsletter template

*     solicit, create and edit content and design for the newsletter

*     electronically publish as a .pdf file

*     distribute via e-mail to subscribers



Development Committee:

The Development Committee purpose is to identify station financial needs and raise funds to cover them. The Development Committee communicates with the Steering Committee and the Public Gallery of Carrboro regarding the budget and is responsible for administration of a General Donors Program and an Underwriting Program

  • draft a yearly WCOM operating budget to be submitted to the Public Gallery Board of Directors (PGBD) for approval
  • General Donors Program:

*     create written materials to solicit donations

*     respond to donor queries

*     prepare donations for deposit

*     maintain records of donations

*     maintain contact with donors

*     oversee donor communications on the Web site.

  • Underwriting Program:

*     review/approve all underwriting announcements before they are aired

*     provide material for and training of underwriter solicitors

*     establish underwriting policy

*     keep records of underwriters and programs being underwritten

*     maintain records of expiration of underwriting contracts and solicit renewals

*     solicit new underwriters

*     keep financial records of payments received

  • Additional activities and responsibilities may include:

*      soliciting donors for major gifts

*      hosting fundraising events

*      coordinating direct mail campaigns

*      managing on-air fundraising appeals

*      grant writing.


Operations Committee:


The purpose and responsibilities of the Operations Committee are to construct, modify, and maintain audio and FM transmission facilities, and the studios, offices and other facilitiesto support the radio mission of WCOM-LP to the communities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina. 

This includes:

  • the FM transmitter and antenna, currently located at Scroggs Elementary School in Chapel Hill 
  • the studios, offices and other facilitiesand equipment located at 208 E. Main Street in Carrboro 
  • the radio or Internet link connecting studios and FM transmitter 
  • remote broadcast link capability 
  • telephone service to the studio 
  • internet links, including audio streaming over the internet 
  • computers and network to support station activities
  • the Simian team with a designated volunteer for each day who will program and trouble-shoot Simian operation 
  •  creation and maintenance of necessary FCC logs for transmission and emergency alert systems 
  • assisting training station personnel in proper use of the facilities as necessary 
  • the oversight and maintenance in good order of all the physical aspects of the radio station 



Programming Committee:


The duties and responsibilities of the Program Committee are to:

  • oversee the design and scheduling of the overall programming grid, including live programs, satellite and syndicated programs
  • recruit, approve, schedule and train new volunteer program hosts and subs
  • monitor and evaluate existing programs
  • communicate all broadcast policies and requirements to program hosts and subs
  • ensure that program hosts adhere to FCC and station policies
  • develop and update training protocol
  • oversee the library function, including generating new releases, updating the new-release and coming-soon boxes, and maintaining the stacks
  • monitor published program schedules and communicate updates to appropriate volunteers
  • maintain and distribute updated DJ contact list to appropriate volunteers



How It Happened

WCOM is the first low-power FM community radio station in the area to be set up under a program established by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000. Low-power FM is grassroots radio—an effort to counterbalance the increasing concentration of radio ownership by a few large corporations.  Back then, the FCC was in a jam. The radio waves, which are supposed to belong to the public, were looking a lot like they really belonged to radio mammoths. In response, the FCC created low power FM (LPFM)—a new class of non-profit community stations with about a five-mile broadcast range—to provide communities with an opportunity to get back some air time.

Locally, it seemed there would be no available frequencies for our area for LPFM.  But late one night, Ruffin Slater (of Weaver Street Market's Community Enterprise Project) entered 35 52 51 N and 79 03 50 W and—bingo!—the “frequency available” light came on. It turned out there was one 50-foot by 40-foot piece of broadcasting turf that was still available to the community. Ruffin filed the application in June 2001, and 18 months later the FCC granted a license to broadcast at 103.5 FM with the call letters WCOM.

License in hand, Ruffin, Peg Nolan, and Jacques Menache learned about a federal grant that would fund 75% of the equipment costs. With the grant deadline only four weeks away, a flurry of activity produced 20 letters from organizations and 1,000 signatures in support of the station. In September 2003, the grant was approved.

The next step was to find a place 90 feet in the air to mount a broadcast antenna. Jacques and his colleague Jake got a three-foot balloon from Pat and Sharon at Balloons and Tunes, tied it to a 90-foot string, and started looking for a place it might fit.  After much searching they found a spot atop a beautiful light pole at Scroggs Elementary and the antenna was installed.

The only available building near the light pole was a port-a-john, so the search moved elsewhere for a studio building. Besides, the john didn't have any windows, and WCOM wanted a storefront studio like Northern Exposure.  So the search for a studio site headed over to Carrboro. Weaver Street Market had bought an old bank building in downtown Carrboro, and wasn't using the drive-in teller booth.  A plan was submitted to the Town to tear down the booth and build a larger studio under the roof overhang. A bunch of Carrboro construction types like Tim Peck and Frank Cole agreed to help with a volunteer booth-razing and studio-raising.

In June 2004, WCOM began broadcasting a test signal—a 30-minute loop in English and Spanish explaining the goals of the station. Since the technology was not yet in place to link the studio to the transmitter, that test signal came from a CD cabinet at the base of the transmitter at Scroggs.

Meanwhile, our intrepid engineering committee toiled away to build the studio and establish the studio-to-transmitter link. Finally, at 11:27 PM on Wednesday, September 29, 2004, they flipped the last switch and we began broadcasting from our beautiful new studio in downtown Carrboro!

From September to November 2004, we played a specially selected mix of music 24-7. The real excitement started in November, when WCOM's first DJs hit the airwaves. Today our program schedule includes close to 60 locally produced music and talk shows and new programs are still being added. We also carry some of the most incisive news shows on the air, Democracy Now, Counter Spin, and Making Contact.





How It Works

WCOM functions by consensus.  What is consensus?

Consensus evolved from the meeting process of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It is a non-violent way for people to relate to each other as individuals and in a group. Successful use of a consensus process depends on people understanding the idea and wanting to use it.

Consensus, like majority rule, is the name of a broad category of processes; it is not the name of one particular process. The ideals of consensus are not a set of rules, and they encompass more than just decision-making. When we refer to consensus we generally are referring to a set of rules for decision-making that are consistent with the idea and ideals of consensus.

Consensus allows us to recognize our areas of agreement and act together without coercing one another. Under consensus the group takes no action that is not consented to by all group members. The fundamental right of consensus is for all persons to be able to express themselves in their own words and of their own will; the fundamental responsibility of consensus is to assure others their right to speak and be heard.

1. The problem/situation needing consideration is discussed and a clear idea of what decision needs to be made is formulated. (Part of this discussion should be to bring out the present position or course of action of the group relating to the issue.)

2. If someone is not present and has not communicated any interest in the matter, it may be assumed that they have no strong feelings on the matter.

3. After adequate discussion, instead of voting, it is asked if there is any opposition to the suggestion as stated.

4. If there is no strong objection to the decision at this point, the suggestion can be formally stated and adopted.

5. Any person can state their opposition to the suggestion and this will block the group's adoption of that suggestion. (There are ways to express an objection without blocking the group from adopting the suggestion.)

6. If there is an objection blocking the group, the objection must be worked out before that suggestion can be adopted.

7. If the objection can be met (satisfied), a sense of the meeting can be taken again. If there are no other objections at this point, the suggestion can be adopted.

8. If all objections are not met the group continues in accordance with its last consensus relating to this matter, until a suggestion is found that is not blocked. Where a group has not previously made a decision to do something, the consensus is to take no action as a group.

Ways to Object Without Blocking Consensus:

1. Non-support (I don't see the need for this, but I'll go along.)

2. Reservations (I think this is a mistake, but I can live with it.)

3. Standing aside (I personally can't do this but I won't block others from doing it.)

4. Withdrawing from the group.

Some Guidelines for Using the Consensus Process:

1. Responsibility. The power to object and block consensus should be used responsibly and sparingly. Block consensus only for serious, principled objections; when possible object in ways that do not block consensus. Help others to satisfy your objections.

2. Respect. Conversely there is a responsibility to accept objections and move on, rather than arguing the merits of an objection. Respect others; trust them to make responsible objections. Either accept an objection or try to find ways to satisfy it.

3. Cooperation. Look for areas of agreement and common ground; avoid competitive right/wrong, win/ lose thinking. When a stalemate occurs, look for ingenious resolutions, next-most-acceptable alternatives. Avoid arguing for you own way to prevail; present your ideas as clearly as you can, then listen to others and try to advance the group synthesis.

4. Creative conflict. Avoid conflict-reducing techniques like majority vote, averages and the like; try instead to resolve the conflict. Don't change your mind or withdraw an objection simply to avoid conflict or promote "harmony." Don't try to trade off objections or to reward people for standing aside. Seemingly irreconcilable differences can be resolved if people speak their feelings honestly and genuinely try to understand all positions (including their own) better.

Published in the Connexions Digest Volume 8, Number 3, Winter 1983-1984


Thank you for being a wcom volunteer!