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Musical Triage at WVIA-FM for AAA music submissions.
from George Graham, music director.
"Triage" is a term that arose out of wartime treatment of injured soldiers. It basically entailed making quick judgments about which solders were worth treating, given limited medical resources.

At WVIA, we take great pride in being an outlet for independent, eclectic music. We consider our AAA programming an alternative not only to commercial radio, but also to college radio. It's exciting to discover and share with our listeners great new music every day. But in 2006, we received over 2800 CDs for airplay consideration, and being that I am basically the only person whose job duties include auditioning music for possible airplay, I have to exercise a lot of triage with incoming releases. So in the interest of providing record companies and artists an idea of which recordings are more likely to be programmed, I provide some of the guidelines I apply in my musical triage. These are based on WVIA's eclectic AAA-oriented programming. WVIA is not a college station, and though we play mostly independent music, a high level of musical quality is the most important criterion. Remember that even though we add over 500 new CDs each year in our AAA programming, for every slot I have to add a CD to WVIA's airplay, there are between five and six CDs. So we can afford to be selective.

1. Language. Radio stations can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for unacceptable language. So if a bad word comes up that is not clearly flagged by the promoter, the audition ends right there. It's amazing that I have come across CDs promoted to radio that had finable language within the first few seconds of the first track. Audition over in 10 seconds...

2. No Rap. Although we may (very) occasionally play a spoken-word recording, rap, hop-hop, and related styles are outside WVIA's musical sphere. Our rule is that music requires all of the following: melody, harmony, rhythm and tone color, in that order.

3. Vocal pitch. It used to be that someone who sings off-key would never get in the door of a record label. With everyone putting out their own CDs, that “filtering” step has largely been eliminated. I don't care what the lyrics say or how much “buzz” a band has on college radio, if the vocals are off-key (or the guitars out of tune), there is no point in going any further – especially with pitch correction tools readily available in the studio.

4. Grungy guitars. WVIA's sound emphasizes an airy acoustic-oriented or rootsy sound, so a recording with heavy grunge will also get culled in the triage stage.

5. Sonic quality. From point 4 above, noisy “lo-fi” recordings, and the use of distorted vocals tracks or other irritating studio effects provide a quick ticket to the isle of exiled discs.

6. Loudness compression. WVIA also prides itself on its clean, open, uncompressed sound. Although this may not be an instant reason to cull a CD, a recording that is mastered to be heavily compressed and loud all the time (sounding like commercial radio), is likely to go to the back of the line. Given two CDs of roughly equal musical quality, we'll pick the softer-sounding, less-compressed CD. (Remember that for every CD we add, there are almost six we can choose from.)

7. Physical CD only. With so many CDs to choose from, and not enough time to audition them all, it is hardly productive to spend time downloading tracks, dealing with the inevitable compatibility issues, and still likely finding that the music may not fit into our programming. Maybe some day that will change as the music world moves increasingly toward file-based recording, but for now, if it's not on a physical CD delivered to WVIA, it won't be considered. Also, with WVIA's audiophile orientation, our standard operating procedure is that mp3 files are generally not acceptable for broadcast of music.

I hope this will help you better target your music submissions.

Here is our postal address for CD submissions:

100 WVIA Way
Pittson, PA 18640-6197

Piles of incoming CDs

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