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University Radio - WERU

When I first arrived on the ERAU campus, I was astonished to discover that the University had a radio station,... WERU. The primary reason for my surprise was the fact that although the radio station existed, almost no one heard it! WERU, in the late 1970s was broadcast from a trailer located behind the dormitory and transmitted its signal through a wire that was stretched out near the dorm. Thus, only a few selected students who happened to live on the same side of the building as the broadcast wire, and also happened to be tuned in to the station, could hear WERU. Oddly, however, this radio station had a very fat budget. This was due to the fact that the person who was in charge of the station also happened to be the S.G.A. [Student Government Association] president, and it was the S.G.A. that allocated the funding for student organizations such as WERU. Additionally, it was leaked to me that persons involved in WERU as well as S.G.A. were in the habit of giving themselves “gifts” which were also taken from the school’s money. Unfortunately, there was a new sheriff in town and the little cartoon ant was soon to target WERU.

Composing a series of cartoons designed to shed light on this dark little undercurrent of funding, I first brought the point forward that WERU was un-listened to and useless, then I put forward the fact that student tuition money was being used to run this radio station in which no one other than those who were on the staff had any interest. If you focus a spot light on a rotten apple, soon someone in administration is gonna point to it and say “Hey, that one’s rotten.” so it was with WERU. After just a few cartoons the connection between S.G.A. and the radio station became as apparent as the uselessness of the station itself. Scams such as this can tolerate very little pressure, and soon the budget makers were slashing at WERU’s funding. This did not endear me to the members of the WERU staff. In fact, one morning on the bus to campus one individual vocally threatened to “...take that cartoonist out in the street and kick his ass...” He didn’t know that the cartoonist, fresh out of the Michigan junior hockey psycho ranks and about a foot taller than him, was sitting right behind him.

By the time that the next budget cycle came around, WERU was a very hot potato, and the word was that they were to be issued a doomsday budget for the next year that would effectively shut them down. So hot was the issue that the budget meeting, which was to be held on its normal Monday evening appointment, was to be “closed-door” and the Avion staff representative was not allowed in the room. You see, Monday night was lay-out night for the newspaper, and the objective was to pass the budget, but not announce it until the following Wednesday when the paper came out. A closed door Monday meeting would certainly keep that cartoonist guy from getting hold of the budget figures for at least a week and using them to make people look bad. A week would allow the hot potato to cool off and all would be well. Still, they were going to give WERU a budget, and any budget was too much... as far as Klyde Morris was concerned. What the budget voters and bean counters did not know, was that I had a source in the meeting among their ranks. It had been pre-arranged for the WERU budget to be telephoned up to the newspaper office as soon as it was passed. I was waiting in the Avion office having left the middle strip of that week’s cartoon blank, and would take the budget, quickly cartoon it and inset the strip in time to come out in Wednesday’s paper... the same day as the “secret” figures were to be made public. On Wednesday, the cartoon shown here actually appeared on campus BEFORE the budget was officially announced, and if you did the simple math in the strip, [considering that I wrote the strip, the math had to be simple] you would get the confidential WERU budget to the penny! This really pissed them off at S.G.A., WERU and the university administration.

As often happens the reaction to this stunt was unexpected. The administration demanded to know how I had gotten the figures, and were appropriately told to pound sand up their collective rectal passages.  WERU died in short order, and that guy on the bus put on another show the following morning standing up and asking all aboard, “...where does he get his figures, that cartoon is all wrong!” My buddy Dan “the man”, then introduced him to me, and I told him how I had gotten the figures and that they were correct to the penny. Lastly, the whole event set in place an aura around the Klyde Morris cartoon that lingers to this day. That is the perception that no matter what the blow-hards do on campus, no matter what closed doors are hidden behind, that cartoonist guy will find out about it and stuff it right in your face.

Today, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical university supports two excellent and fully legitimate student radio stations, one on Prescott and one in Daytona. These stations actually broadcast and lots of folks actually listen. The Daytona campus station which carries the call letters WERU, and is at 97.3 on the FM dial was voted the best campus radio station of 1995 by Florida Leader Magazine. My only regret is that the stigma of the old WERU caused delay in the establishment of these new stations. Many of those in administration were reluctant to fund the start-up of these stations, in part due to the abuses that I uncovered more than a decade earlier. For that reason, enthusiastic students who came to campus long after Klyde Morris had been retired were troubled in their efforts to establish a true campus radio station. In truth, the people who scammed through WERU are responsible, but I still feel as if I owe something to those who worked so hard to establish the new stations.

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