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It's a good idea to define station policies before problems arise. To avoid becoming overwhelmed with 'what- if's, break down issues your station will define and solve into categories.
To get started, consider these five common issues:
1. Individual Membership
How much does a membership cost and what does it include? For example, some stations allow paying members to participate in board elections, while others require a set amount of volunteer hours in order to vote.
2. Conflict Resolution
Issues such as harassment, discrimination, and conflicts of interest (such as when a programmer runs for public office or wants to buy underwriting to promote their band’s show) will come up and need clear and consistent mediation.
For example, you will need to establish when fiscal years begin, decide the point people for accounting, when the budget report should go to membership and who writes checks. If you think your station will contain separate departments, think about organizing the budget accordingly.
4. Board of Directors
Issues include terms of members, meeting times, allowing public comment before decisions are made and elections.
5. Station Rules/ Volunteer Expectations
Volunteer programmers and off-air support members will need a definition of their roles, a point person to answer questions and the station’s operation expectations. Consider including this and rules regarding building maintenance/professionalism with your volunteer agreement form to keep it short and simple. Volunteers who broadcast will need extra support regarding equipment use and airing appropriate content, so consider planning additional training sessions.
Other issues that can be addressed through station policies:
- Committees and their responsibilities
- FCC Compliance: Two main issues programmers should understand are playola/plugola and obscenity- both of which can cost the station hefty fines ($25k+) and risk losing your license.
- Ownership and Distribution of Produced Material: An essential policy and contract to have if your station plans on broadcasting live performances.
- Reimbursements: Whether it’s trading pizza for underwriting with a local restaurant or paying someone back for buying batteries for recorders, there should be a clear route of documenting reimbursements.
- Compensation: If you plan on having employees, organize compensation, staff reviews and benefits accordingly. It's also important to detail who and in what capacity can earn money from the station. For example some stations state that board member cannot recieve money, while others have incentive plans for selling underwriting contracts, regardless of the person.
A comprehensive resource of station policies from KBOO radio in Portland OR.
Check out our Station Governance page for more information on station structure .