WPTS entered the Pittsburgh FM market on August 26, 1984 at 6P, the FM status resulting from a long and grueling application process. WPTS itself evolved from WPGH, an AM carrier-current station which broadcast to the Pitt Student Union and dormitories. WPGH began in the fall of 1957, when 12 students formed the Student Broadcasting Association with the intent of starting a college radio station for Pitt. The group was led by Adrian Cronauer, whose experiences in Vietnam are the basis for the movie Good Morning, Vietnam, in which he was played by Robin Williams.
The group was recognized by the University of Pittsburgh in January of '58, and they spent the next year trying to get on the air. With help from KQV and KDKA (AM), WPGH tried to go on-air February 9 of 1959 in Schenley Hall on the Pitt campus. Nobody, however, really checked out the wiring and all WPGH managed to do was blow out all the lights in Schenley Hall. WPGH finally got its stuff together in 1961, broadcasting at 820 AM to the Pitt and Carlow campuses via carrier-current transmitters. In 1966, WPGH purchased new transmitters that broadcast at 640 AM and installed new lines (to prevent another explosion) for the Schenley Hall Studios.
The push to get an actual FM station began in the fall of 1977, when WPGH and Pitt's Student Government Board got together to plan for the switch. In the Fall of '78, WPGH approached the Pitt administration for help in the application process, as they felt the FCC never grant a license to a student group. The administration liked the idea, as they realized an operating FM-station functions like a "working classroom", and certainly enhances the learning experience of the University.
Pitt filed for space on the non-commercial band of the FM dial in '79, and began to reserve money for the switch to FM, but conflicts arose with other radio stations. The dial was too crowded, and objections from Carnegie Mellon University, Bethany College radio stations and Channel 6 Johnstown froze the application indefinitely.
Since everyone was being so picky about a new station, Pitt hired consultants, and lawyers to see about amending the FM application. What they came up with was pretty bizarre and unusual.
Pitt requested a space on the commercial FM band, and proved to an FCC commission that the WPTS case was unique and not precedent setting (as the FCC was afraid, the WPTS case might be used to get other non-commercial stations on the commercial band.) As a result, WPTS was granted a class D license with a radiating power of 10W in the fall of 1984, the last 10W station to be licensed by the FCC.
After a breif reduction in power in parts of 2005 and 2006 WPTS at the request of the FCC WPTS got a new directional antenna in the summer of 2006 to reduce interference with a commercial station in the north-west. The new antenna increased the range of the station in almost all directions.
Constitution and Bylaws of WPTS-FM
ARTICLE I - Organization
Name : The name of the organization shall be WPTS-FM, University of Pittsburgh.
Section 1.02 Purpose. The purpose of the organization shall be to provide high-quality radio programming to the University and local Pittsburgh community and to provide experience for its members in broadcasting and related fields.
Section 1.03 Authorization for Management. The WPTS-FM license by the Federal Communication Commission is issued to the University of Pittsburgh. The University has assigned operational authority to the Vice Provost and Dean of Students, who has delegated primary supervisory authority to the Director of Student Life. The Director of Student Life may delegate a member of his/her staff to serve as General Manager of the Station. The General Manager shall be considered ultimately responsible for the management of the organization.
Section 1.04. Chief Operator. In accordance with federal law, WPTS-FM shall employ a Chief Operator licensed by the Federal Communication Commission. A copy of the Chief Operator’s license shall be kept on file at WPTS-FM. The Chief Operator shall be considered ultimately responsible for the technical operations of the organization.
ARTICLE II - Station Manager
Section 2.01 Management. The station management shall consist of the General Manager, Station Manager, and all divisional and departmental directors. The activities, property and affairs of the organization shall be managed, subject to the policies and procedures of the WPTS-FM, as determined by Station Management and approved by the Director of Student Life.
Section 2.02 Station Manager.
- Selection. An Advisory Board shall interview and select a Station Manager. The board shall consist of one broadcast professional, one faculty/staff member, one student-at-large member, two WPTS-FM alumni, the WPTS-FM station manager, one WPTS-FM staff member appointed by the station manager, and the General Manager. Board members shall be selected by the General Manager for approval by the Director of Student Life. The General Manager will be a non-voting member and chair the board.
- Duties: The duties of the station manager are as follows:
- General overall responsibility for coordinating all WPTS station activities
- Familiarity with all FCC rules and regulations relevant to station activities
- Maintaining at least fifteen (15) office hours during the station’s regular business week
- Meeting regularly with the General Manager to discuss station operations
- Obtaining approval from the General Manager for all strategic decisions
- Representing WPTS-FM at all necessary University functions and meetings
- Meeting regularly with all department directors
- Calling meetings of general station staff at least twice per term
- Mediating all internal staff disputes, subject to appeal to the General Manager
- Assuring that all expenditures by area heads fall within budgetary parameters
- Assuring that all station records are neatly maintained
- Available for other duties as assigned by the General Manager
Section 2.03 Qualifications. The position of Station Manager is open to
enrolled University of Pittsburgh full-time, undergraduate students. Students must have been a member of WPTS for at least two consecutive semesters, have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, and meet all requirements of said position. Students who have previously been suspended or fired from WPTS-FM shall not be eligible to serve as station manager.
Section 2.04 Directors. The Station Manager shall conduct interviews with all applicants for remaining WPTS Student Directorships and consult with the General Manager before appointing directors to office. The directors of the organization must be full-time, undergraduate students with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA. Students who have previously been suspended or fired from WPTS-FM shall not be eligible to serve as directors.
Section 2.06 Appointment and Terms. The Station Manager and student directors shall hold only one directorship at one time and can hold a particular office for a period of one school year. Station Manager and/or directors shall not hold the same position for consecutive years unless a position is unfilled or by organizational necessity. Once the Station Manager and/or director’s term has ended, the individual may run for any and all other WPTS Directorships but cannot repeat an office they have previously held in the past. All vacancies occurring in the student directorships shall be filled by appointees of the Station Manager on a timely basis, upon consultation with the General Manager.
Section 2.07 Meetings. Regular meetings of Station Management shall be held at such periodic intervals as the General Manager and/or Station Manager may deem appropriate.
Section 2.08 Removal of Station Manager. The Advisory Board has the authority to remove the Station Manager if he/she is no longer a full-time, undergraduate student maintaining a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, or for failure to perform the duties of his/her office as outlined in the policies/procedures of the organization. The procedures for such removal are described below.
- All complaints about the Station Manager shall be filed with the General Manager.
- The General Manager has the authority to decline to investigate any complaints which she or he determines to be obviously untruthful, malicious, and/or intended solely to further the agenda of a special interest group.
- If further investigation is warranted, the General Manager shall discuss the complaint with the Advisory Board, which shall decide whether the complaint has enough merit to warrant further investigation.
- If necessary, the Advisory Board shall conduct a confidential and impartial fact-finding inquiry in a timely manner, and inform any individuals implicated in the complaint of its actions. The General Manager shall preside at such an inquiry.
- The Advisory Board shall vote on any disciplinary action undertaken up to and including dismissal of the Station Manager.
- The Advisory Board shall appoint an interim Station Manager.
The Station Manager shall be reappointed in accordance with the provisions of Section 2.02.
Section 2.09 Removal of Directors. Any director may be removed for cause by the Station Manager or for not fulfilling the minimum requirements of the position. Directors can appeal the Station Manager’s decision to the Advisory Board. Any director deemed to be no longer qualified for membership in accordance with the policies/procedures of the organization shall, on the effective date of ineligibility, cease to be a director. A director shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of Section 2.04.
Section 2.10 Resignation. Any individual holding a position within Station Management may resign at any time by giving two weeks written notice to the Station Manager.
ARTICLE III - Financing
Section 3.01 Primary Funding. WPTS-FM shall be funded primarily through the Office of Student Life, University of Pittsburgh, and approved by the Vice Provost and Dean of Students.
Section 3.02 Supplementary Financing. WPTS-FM shall actively seek additional funding through resources consisting of, but not limited to, promotional events and underwriting contracts. Acquisition of this additional support shall be handled by Station Management with the approval of the General Manager.
Section 3.03 Execution of Documents. Contracts may be signed only by the Director of Student Life and the Vice-Provost and Dean of Students.
Section 3.04 Accounting. All financial accounts shall be handled through established University of Pittsburgh accounting policies and procedures.
Section 3.05 Business Practice. The business activities of WPTS-FM shall be conducted in accordance with standard business practices and shall comply with all appropriate financial policies and procedures of the University of Pittsburgh system and the state of Pennsylvania.
ARTICLE IV - Membership
Section 4.01 Qualification; Removal From Membership. Since WPTS-FM is a University radio station and is recognized as a bona fide student organization, any enrolled student in good standing may apply for membership in the organization. All students accepted for membership will have duties and responsibilities as set forth in the policies and procedures of WPTS-FM. Any member ceasing to have the necessary qualifications for membership as set forth in the Bylaws or fail to satisfactorily perform required duties shall be removed from the roll of membership.
Section 4.02 Rights of Members. A member shall be permitted to attend any and all general staff meetings; a member may apply for a station management position provided he/she meets the criteria set forth in the bylaws.
Section 4.03 Membership Meetings. General membership meetings of WPTS-FM shall be held for the transaction of the general business of the organization. Station Management shall hold general membership meetings no less frequently than twice a semester. Notice of general meetings shall be communicated to all members at least seven (7) days prior to the date of such meeting.
ARTICLE V - Amendments
Section 5.01 Amendments. This Constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the Advisory Board, provided notice of such amendment or amendments and the nature thereof shall have been communicated to the members of the organization at least seven (7) days prior to the date of the meeting at which the amendment or amendments are to be presented for consideration. Objections to any proposed amendment(s) shall be discussed by Station Management prior to a formal vote by the Advisory Board. No amendment, whether recommended by the members of the organization or approved by the Advisory Board, shall become effective until approved by the Vice Provost and Dean of Students.
ARTICLE VI - Ratification
Section 8.01 Effective Date. This Constitution and Bylaws shall be considered in effect when, as a whole, is approved by Vice Provost and Dean of Students in accordance with the provisions of Section 5.01.
Since its inception, WPTS has established itself as one of the major college radio stations in the U.S. WPTS is an important outlet in the Pittsburgh market for alternative music. We operate 24 hours a day year round, playing an eclectic mix of music around the clock, including specialty programming like jazz, reggae, metal, world music, folk and the city's award winning rap show. WPTS is serviced by over 200 record labels, and we have a great working relationship with industry representatives. WPTS is also a key player in the Pittsburgh music scene working with all local promoters to support and bring to the city the music we play.
WPTS is a formatted college-radio station, as opposed to a free-form block radio style. We find this works well for two main reasons. First, it gives WPTS a professional sound. While there is a certain merit and a place for college radio stations who follow a more anti-radio outlook ("um, ah, I guess that was Foetus' latest backwards"), such a view is wrong for WPTS. WPTS was conceived of as a "working classroom", a means to expose students to the reality of radio. To do so, we try to walk a fine line, broadcasting experimental music while training as professional a staff as possible. DJ's are trained in "real radio", and the rotation helps them to see how a "real" station would work. While we avoid that annoying "in your face" hit-radio shock-jock approach, our DJs are perfect for a more adult-type format. Former WPTS'ers now work for CBS Records, KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, WYEP-FM and many others.