A talk with the WMUA programmer and general manager for 2017-2018

By Andrew Cunningham

WMUA is the student radio station at UMass Amherst. Many of you reading this may be familiar with our news team, but there’s so much more that goes on at the college radio station. This past month, the general body elected Josh McCawley as the new general manager and re-elected Misha Damsky as programmer.

“It’s a tremendous honor. I can remember reaching out to Andrew DesRochers, who was our general manager two years ago, and saying ‘I want your job one day,’” says McCawley. The general manager and programmer serve the executive committee (ECOMM) at WMUA along with an advisor. Our current interim advisor is Lloyd Henley, the UMass associate director of student activities, until a replacement is found.

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“It’s a tremendous honor. I can remember reaching out to [the general manager two years ago] and saying ‘I want your job one day.'” Photo courtesy of Josh McCawley. 
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“I definitely see myself more as a partner. I think it’s the DJs more than anything that do the outreach and talk to students.” Courtesy of Misha Damsky.

Together, the general manager and programmer work to ensure compliance with all Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules and regulations, and Student Government Association (SGA) Registered Student Organization (RSO) regulations and practices. Every week the general manager and programmer lead meetings with the department directors. And every other week, the ECOMM leads general body meetings with student and community member DJs.

WMUA general body meeting in 2013. Photo from WMUA 91.1 on Facebook

“I definitely want to build on rolling admissions,” says Damsky whose role as programmer is to ensure best programming practices among DJs. Damsky started rolling admissions this past semester, which means that any student or community member who has passed DJ training can apply for an empty time slot – even if it’s the middle of the semester. In the past, DJs could only apply once throughout the semester for a specific time slot.

McCawley, who still contributes to WMUA Sports and was the former finance director, wants to set up a second on-air stream. For those of you who are WMUA DJs, you might be familiar with how news or sports programming may sometimes take over your music block to broadcast a time sensitive events – with the second on-air stream, that pre-emption will no longer happen. McCawley has worked a lot with administration and local businesses and plans to make sure that WMUA 91.1 FM plays as much as possible throughout campus and the Pioneer Valley.

“I definitely want to change the way we fundraise and the way we do community outreach,” says McCawley whose role as general manager requires him to make final decisions on the budget and network with administration and other college radio stations.

Overall, both Damsky and McCawley agree that WMUA’s DJs make up the face of the station.

“I definitely see myself more as a partner. I think it’s the DJs more than anything that do the outreach and talk to students,” says Damsky.

“Our DJs are definitely the face of WMUA. I may be the business figure head, so to speak. But our DJs are the front porch of WMUA. They are the greatest recruiting asset,” says McCawley.