About Us

About Us





Welcome to the TOP Radio Station team. Employees are a vital part of our organization, and we look forward to a productive and mutually-beneficial working relationship TOP FM strives to provide employees with opportunity and incentive for professional growth, and it is our hope that your work experience with us will be pleasant and rewarding.
We are proud of what we have accomplished at TOP FM and our continued success will be determined by our actions today and our plans for tomorrow. In all of our activities, we are a service organization, working cooperatively together to meet the need of our community.

Once again, welcome aboard and thank you for joining the TOP FM team as a partner in service.

The purpose of this TOP FM Handbook is to set guidelines and provide rules by which all employer/employee & volunteer relations will be governed. Through the use of this policy, it is the Station’s purpose that each employee, volunteer, officer, and board member will be treated fairly, equally, and with dignity, as an individual, and as an important part of the whole Station.

Race, creed, color, and national origin have no influence in the selection of those who are seeking jobs or those once employed, who seek advancement.

TOP FM is an equal opportunity employer, which means that we recruit, hire, train, and promote on the basis of qualifications and merit regardless it corporation. Minutes are subject to be reviewed in financial audits and in some legal matters and by the IRS in an audit for tax-exempt status. The treasurers duties will be outlined as needed by the board, but is generally responsible for presenting financial reports to the board. Regular channels of communication must be set among the board members and between the board and the staff. This will be accomplished with regular monthly meetings. The chair will meet regularly with the executive staff and play a major role in keeping communication channels open. He/she should ensure that:

1. Board members clearly understand the strategies and goals of the organization,
2. Meetings are called as they are truly necessary
3. Agenda and meeting notices are sent well in advance of meetings
4. The staff and the board have opportunities to interact.
This operational and employee handbook may be amended, changed, or updated as needed by the Board of Directors of TOP FM Radio Station.
Mission Statement:

TOP FM is a non-profit non-commercial radio station serving the people of Grand Gedeh County and the Southeast of Liberia. TOP FM provides the outline of community oriented programming by their focused mission statement of “The Voice to Build and Serve Community in in Grand Gedeh, taking the radio to the people”.

This mission statement is carried out by the following goals:

1. Increasing the visibility and awareness of TOP FM in Grand Gedeh County
2. Increasing the use of volunteers, community partners and associations
3. Providing quality news and local programming
4. Upgrading equipment and reestablishing the TOP FM Studio
5. Excel programming and community involvement to become self-sustaining
Principles and Values

TOP FM values the volunteers and community involvement and will be a station that is easily accessible by providing the alternative programming not present in mainstream radio stations. A professional attitude of respect, tolerance, fairness and accuracy will be delivered to share the passion of the non-commercial radio station. A priority will be placed on educational, informational, non-discriminatory, programming with a wide perspective for all of Grand Gedeans, while providing an enjoyable and respectable environment in which to work.

Vision Statement

TOP FM will provide strength and unity in the in the eight administrative Districts by building and serving community to provide an alternative viable station and stronger communities.

Strategies to accomplish Vision

1. Complete community mapping
2. Strengthen and increase relationships with communities increasing memberships, underwriting, and increased communication.
3. Stronger communication with volunteers with training provided and possible volunteer coordinator.
4. Ability to have both studios (RADIO AND TELEVISION) actively operating
5. Everyone on the same page internally, and externally, implementing an annual banquet with recognition of achievements.

Corporate and Historical Documents In 2015

A Movies Director and trained broadcasting journalist – had a passion to bridge the diverse community of Grand Gedeh with a community station. The Genesis of the station began with the manually making a five watts transmitter, which only cover few houses in a community. Soon Sheku Koromah discovered it was not going to be enough to have the station in the yard. Mr. Koromah reached out to his wife to be by then Patience Tee Baye which later became the general manager, at which time she also reach to her uncle Archie Wright who live in the united states of America after an arrangement was already made and a 300 watts was bought from one macus from radio ELWA in Monrovia to establish this community radio. Soon the superintendent of Grand Gedeh County Honorable Peter L. Solo was inform about establishing a community radio that will help buttress Government’s effort and the only community radio Smile FM 98.6 in the county which may not have served all 126,126 person in the county by then. The superintendent immediately, with consultation with the LTA Representative Mr. Jerome G. Saydee, the old telecom container where smile FM 98.6 first occupied was turned over the TOP FM.

The first broadcast was air on April 21, 2015. Electricity was a serious problem for TOP FM at the time we started, Archie Wright who live in the united states immediately sent the sum of 3000 usd to buy Mixer, 5.5 kva generator which we start for the next three (3) months and there novaphone step in to provide 24 hours electricity the station. Few months later, top fm became a place of information dissemination and a place every one in the county want to turned to. Besides having a place to tune into where people can hear their own language, there is also a place to share stories and to be able to broadcast in different languages as a way of getting to know about other cultures, TOP FM was officially launched on July 24 2015 after getting all the legal document, the article of incorporation, Business registration, All Liberia community radio association. During this launching, the president and vice president of the press union of Liberia were present where the president Mr. Abdullah Kamara served as the keynote speaker. Sort of a meeting place.

A meeting place on the air. In 2016, the 300-watt station turn into 1000watts and could be heard in five counties in Liberia, TOP FM is in partnership with Radio Lib, an online radio, Liberia Public Radio and TOP FM now have a website, www.topfmliberia.com and Facebook page as well. After the launched of the radio station in Grand Gedeh County, front page Africa, newspaper features the launched in their paper. At the beginning of the station, it was a thought time for us, few person never want to see this dream to come to reality, on two occasion top FM gutted fire. The good news is that TOP FM is love by almost 80% of the people of the county. On December 31, 2015, TOP FM has her yearend party where the station appreciated regular caller and contributors since its establishment. On January 2 2016, the management under the leadership of madam Patience Tee Baye decided to undertake a TOP FM radio and TV building, a modern building, with the help of the board chair Mr. Archie Wright who is based in the United States of America.

Board of Directors
The board chair is appointed by the founder/ chief executive officer of TOP FM. The Board of Directors is legally, financially, and ethically responsible for the operations and conduct of the non-profit corporation. The board is charged with a “governing” role. Boards are fiduciaries of non-profit corporations. Fiduciaries stand in a special relation of legal trust to others, such as community, members, and government agencies for at least two duties:

Key Responsibilities:
♣ Legal: The Board is the official holder of the LTA broadcast license for TOP FM and is legally responsible for the management of the organization. As a noncommercial broadcaster TOP FM must operate within LTA regulations and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) guidelines, and as an incorporated not-for-profit organization it must comply with certain IRS and state laws. The Board, in collaboration with the General Manager, must insure that TOP FM is in compliance with all legal requirements, including the organization’s own bylaws. (To protect individual Board Members from legal liability TOP FM carries Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance coverage.)

♣ Ethical: Through its mission statement and operating principles/core values, TOP FM espouses a philosophy of organizational integrity, community service and broadcast excellence. The Board is responsible for setting goals and managing the station in a manner that lives up to these standards.

♣ Fiduciary: TOP FM is the beneficiary of tremendous financial support from its audience (past and present), and as such is a trustee of community resources. The Board is responsible for managing the financial assets of TOP FM in a manner that is legal, ethical and fiscally sound.

Individual members of the board have no authority except as given by the board or as stated in the Articles of Incorporation or the By-Laws. The board and the senior staff should understand that one of the most important duties of the board is to review the performance of the senior staff, which includes, hiring and replacement.

Each member of the board will be asked to participate in one or more committee position and/ or fundraising activities. The committees that are currently serving TOP FM are: Executive, Finance, Governance, Fundraising and Programming. Additional guidelines for each committee can be found in the handbook for each committee. Additional committees may be created as the need arises. The board member that serves on a committee will become the chair of that committee and the general responsibilities are outlined in a separate manual for each committee.

Board of Directors

The Board is responsible for the operations & conduct of the Corporation

Elects the Executive Board

Executive Board of Directors – Board Officers – Manages staff relations – and is authorized by the Board of Directors to handle time sensitive issues
Committees – carry out the work as assigned by Board of Directors – at least one Director will sit on each committee

As outlined by the strategic plan for TOP FM the following committees were requested. As a member of the Board of Directors, each person will be expected to take an additional active role on a committee of their choice. Committee duties are to help accomplish the goals and objectives set by the Board of Directors and work with staff in an advisory capacity. Committees will act as the board level in respect to following policies and accomplishing the strategic plans and goals. Committees are established to help aid the process of governance, not staff.

Current Active Committees:

Executive Board
Financial Committee
Fundraising Committee
Programming Committee
Governance Committee
TOP FM Sports Committee

For information on the duties of each committee see the manual for each committee.
Community Advisory Board (CAB)

A Community Advisory Board has been created to advise the Board of Directors. CAB members are listeners who are not involved in the day-to-day functioning of the station. Station volunteers are not eligible to serve on the CAB, since its function is to provide the station with an outside perspective. The CAB has no decision-making authority; CAB members take an active part in the station affairs by helping with various tasks and by communicating listeners concerns to the Board of Directors. The CAB has been organized by requirements outlined in the CPB Grant.

What You Need to Know

Employee Definition:

Full time employees of TOP FM are employees who have been hired to work 32 hours or more a week. Full time employees are eligible for vacation benefits. Part-time employees are defined as people who work less than 32 hours a week. Temporary employees are employees who are hired to accomplish a task or who have been hired for a defined period of time. Volunteers are people who will perform a task for TOP FM without expectation of a wage reimbursement. Part-time, temporary and volunteer employees are not eligible for benefits.

Wage and Overtime:

TOP FM is committed to paying equitable and competitive wages. Performance is the primary factor considered in the company wage program. Wage information will be communicated to the employees by management and must be treated confidentially. Employee’s wages will be reviewed at the end of their 90 day trial period and every 12 months thereafter. Exceptional or unacceptable performance can result in an earlier review.

It is the policy of TOP FM not to work employee’s overtime. However, in an emergency, you may be asked to work beyond your scheduled shift. In this case all time over 40 hours worked in a single week will be paid in compliance with state regulations. Any hourly paid employee will be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Salaried employees will receive a compensation package equitable for the position filled.

As part of this compensation package salaried employees understand the scope of work expected to fill that position. TOP FM does not expect salaried employees to continually work over 40 hours a week. In the event this would happen management would review the position and assess additional staff or changes in the job description. TOP FM may from time to time consider a contract with certain employees.

* You will be expected to be on time for work as your work day begins.
* You will be expected to work the hours outlined by your supervisor (unless circumstances dictate differently).
* In the event you are unable to work you will be expected to have your work covered
for the day or time off.


Full time employees will receive 1 week vacation (7 days) after 1 full year of employment. Two weeks after two years of employment. The full-time employee has a freedom to all the holidays available, New Year’s Day, ARM FORCES DAY, Thanksgiving and the day after, and Christmas and 6 others of the employee’s choice. Employees will be allowed 3 personal days. Personal days, vacation and holidays must be used and cannot be carried over to the next year. Sick Leave may total up to a maximum of 120 days and will be accumulated at a rate of 1 day per month worked. Part-time employees do not qualify for benefits listed. If a part-time employee’s normal work day would fall on a holiday, the employee will have the option of taking the day off without pay or working a different day to make up the hours.

Presently TOP FM does not have group health insurance available. When the budget would allow for this expense the Board of Directors would be happy to provide the insurance.

All vacations, personal days, and holidays scheduled will need to be approved by the management or board a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the time. Work must be covered or staff arranged to cover the absence. Sick leave must be called in and reported to management. All sick leaves – vacations, personal days or holidays must be reported to the payroll (Human Resource Dept.) prior to payroll for that period.

Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s compensation is a required insurance program that reimburses employees for medical expenses and partial salary lost as a result of a work-related injury or accident. The coverage includes situations at the regular place of employment and those where employees are on company business at locations away from the regular place of employment. The coverage is required by law, and the employer pays the premium, with no deduction from the employees’ pay.

It is the responsibility of the employee to exercise due care for the safety and protection of all employees. If an accident occurs, it must be reported immediately to the General Manager and Executive Board, completion of a report is required.

Jury Duty

In the event an employee is called to jury duty they will be released from working their normal hours of work. The employee must make the General Manager or Executive Board aware they will be missing. Work missed in this case will be paid, however any money received from being on jury duty will be turned over to the Radio Station. Employee will need to have his/her duties covered while fulfilling this duty.

90 Day Trial

There will be a probationary period for the first 90 days of your employment. During that time, you may find that the job is not quite what you expected or perhaps the Manager and/or the Executive Board will feel that you are not quite well-suited for your new job. If this is the case, we can simply part as friends. After successfully completing the 90 day trial period, you will become a permanent TOP FM employee.

Work Schedule

TOP FM office will be open Monday to Friday 9 to 5. Staff will be expected to have the office covered during those hours. It is important to be at the office for calls or walk-ins. In the event staff is not available, a sign will be hung stating return time. Management also understands a radio staff has to be flexible and work around hours that volunteers and others are available. Work hours will be discussed by management and a schedule will be communicated to all employees. Employees will be expected to be at work at their scheduled start time. Salaried employees will not be expected to report time clocked in or clocked out. Part-time employees will be expected to keep track of their work hours and turn them in before payroll can be completed. Directors will review the time turned in prior to summiting it for payment. Employees found abusing this system will be subject to immediate dismissal.

Rest Periods/Breaks

Because TOP FM has such flexible schedules, rest periods should not be an issue. Any time an employee is at a task for a long time, it will be important to take a break from the routine. When on break the employee should retire to the break room to remove oneself from the work and inform the other staff that you will be taking a break. For employees that work an 8 hour day, a 10 minute paid break should be taken during the morning and afternoon hours. Lunch breaks will not be paid, but will be an hour long.
Meals are consumed at work; they should be consumed in the lounge to keep food and dishes away from the general public that could be observed at any time.

Days off Request

Occasionally, you may require a special day off other than your normally scheduled days off. When this occurs, you will need to submit your request in writing at least two weeks in advance. Remember this is a request only until approved my management. Sick days, must be called in as soon as possible to staff and management. Work will need to be covered in the employee’s absence. To qualify for pay on your days off, you will need to be eligible as outlined in this policy.

Religious Observance

Full time employees who wish to attend religious services or observe religious holidays during regular working hours may request vacation, personal time, or leave without pay to cover the absence.


A primary concern of TOP FM is the safety and well-being of employees. Management trusts that employees will make fair decisions regarding their safety during inclement weather. Employees who are not able to attend work due to adverse weather conditions must call the immediate supervisor to report the absence or tardiness.
Days missed due to bad weather will be without pay, or may be used as a vacation day.


Employees and volunteers must keep all areas of the station clean, neat and orderly. Place trash in the receptacles provided, return equipment and material where it belongs. Everyone is expected to clean up after themselves. Neither employees, board of directors or volunteers should use the station as a place for storage.

Music Library, Archives and Equipment

All equipment owned by TOP FM, music library and copier are NOT available for loan. If the copier is used for copies outside of TOP FM station use, the person should be charged applicable fees. Original material recorded at the station is not to be removed from the station. If someone request a copy of a program that has not been archived on our website and available to the general public permission to acquire a copy of the program should be made and present to the managers of the station or Executive Board. If someone wishes to use the studio for personal recording, a request should be made and studio fees may be applied. All personal recording time would need to be done at a time the station is not being used.


Payroll be completed once a month, on the 28st and of the month. pay sheets must be handed in prior to having payroll completed. In the event the pay day falls on a holiday, payroll will be completed the next work day. The attachment stub with the pay stub shows the following information.

1. Deductions required by law,
2. Voluntary deductions,
3 Other deductions,
4. Exemptions and
5. Filing status.

Carefully examine earnings and the amount deducted – be sure you understand the numbers and discuss any questions with management or the Human Resource department.

Safety and Accident Prevention

TOP FM is a clean and safe environment in which to work. However accidents may still happen. In the event that an accident has occurred the Manager and/or Executive Board should be contacted immediately. Proper insurance reports will need to be completed immediately to our insurance carrier. In the event the Manager is not around this should be reported to one of the Executive Board members. Many times these reports are time sensitive – so it is important to report the accident immediately. (See Workers Compensation benefit)

Performance Evaluation

As a philosophy TOP FM believes in providing ongoing feedback to employees. At the same time, the company sees a need to formally review each person’s performance. Therefore we have instituted a formal process for appraising each employee’s performance.

On an annual basis, full-time and part-time employees will undergo a performance appraisal process. In general, the person you directly report to will give you the review. At that time you will discuss your strengths, areas of improvement, and new initiatives for the coming year. Compensation considerations will also take place during this discussion. Recommendations for wage/salary adjustment or job description changes will be made to the Executive Board. Approval of wage and job descriptions will be made by the full board.

Sexual/Racial Harassment Policy

It is against TOP FM’s policy for any employee, male or female, to sexually or racially, or in any way harass another employee.

Racial harassment occurs where racially derogatory language or conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Violations of this policy by an employee are strictly prohibited. An employee who believes that he or she has been a victim of harassment should immediately inform his or her supervisor. All employees are responsible for ensuring that TOP FM’s equal employment opportunity policy is implemented in all employment related decisions. Violations of this policy by an employee may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors. Unsolicited, deliberate, or repeated sexually explicit, derogatory statements, gestures, or physical contacts considering demeaning, humiliating, or threatening constitute sexual harassment when: submission to the conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly as a term or condition of employment, submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the bases for employment decisions affecting an individual, such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Sexually harassing behavior may include, but it not limited to, unwanted verbal innuendo, nonverbal communication, suggestive comments, unwanted physical contact (touching, pinching, patting), or sexual demands. It does not, however, refer to dating or other mutually agreed upon relationships. The key distinction is whether the behavior is unwelcome.

Complaint Procedure

Any employee who believes he/she has been subjected to sex, age, race, color, religion, disability, national origin or other harassment shall immediately report this to his/her supervisor or to the Executive Board of Directors. If the first-line supervisors are the source of the alleged harassment, the employee should report the problem to the Executive Board. When a supervisor receives a complaint he/she must immediately notified the Executive Board.

The matter will be carefully, promptly and completely investigated. Upon completion of the fact finding investigation appropriate action will be taken based on the result of the investigation. The employee who makes the complaint will be notified of the results of the investigation and the discipline, if any, taken.

No employee will be subject to any form of retaliation or discipline for assisting in the investigation or making a harassment complaint.

Because of the importance of this policy, all employees will always be aware of their actions and the actions of others.

Complaints of misconduct as outlined next may also be reported as outlined in this “Complaint Procedures”.
Complaint forms are attached at the end of this manual.

Personal Conduct

TOP FM employees/volunteers are expected to perform their jobs in a courteous and professional manner. Employees/volunteers are expected to use the TOP FM’s problem-solving procedure to resolve misunderstandings or disagreements that could otherwise affect the employee’s ability to do their jobs in an efficient and positive manner. Employees are expected to work with other employees as a team.

Bad attitudes, griping, complaining, rudeness, surliness, and so forth are characteristics which almost everyone occasionally exhibits. However, when such behavior continues on a day to day basis it can cause conflicts and disruptions which result in inefficient job performance, and loss of good will if exhibited in the presence of TOP FM customers.
Your behavior affects your fellow employees, the Company and the public we serve. To avoid any misunderstanding, we have established rules for our mutual benefits those employees are expected to follow. Any deviations from this policy may result in disciplinary action and/or immediate termination.

Respect for other co-workers, committee members, board members, or volunteers are an expectation for all employees.

Conduct that is not professional, rudeness or any display of violent anger to anyone will not be tolerated.

1. Liquor/Drugs – No employee is permitted to come to work or be at work while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or use them on the premises. Alcoholic beverages or drugs are not allowed to be brought on the premises by an employee. Employees believed to be under the influence (due to actions, appearance, or smell) may be asked to undergo drug and/or alcohol testing.

2. Behavior – Disrespect, profanity, insubordination, fighting and horseplay, as well as threatening or abusive conduct, whether to a supervisor, a manager, and other employees or customer, will not be tolerated. Immoral conduct and gambling are prohibited; this includes using the Internet as a means for immoral conduct.

3. Smoking – no smoking will be allowed in the TOP FM facility or during an off premise interview or appointment. Smoking can be offensive to others and consideration will be given to the people you come in contact with at all times.

4. Abuse of Property and Equipment – Careless or deliberate loss, waste or damage of any property, whether it belongs to TOP FM or other employees, will not be permitted.

5. Theft – TOP FM expects to employ only honest and upright people of good moral character. Any employee found guilty of theft of any property, supplies, equipment or money belonging to TOP FM, its employees, or customers can be discharged immediately, and possibly prosecuted.

6. Phone Use – TOP FM phones are for business calls, however the employees are allowed to use them for occasional person calls. Personal phone calls tie up the phone for calls that may come in and they use the time employees are being paid to accomplish work for the radio station. Personal calls will be held to a minimum and all long distance calls will be repaid to the radio station. Abuse of phone privileges will be addressed and continued abuse will be reason for termination. Internet, the same requirements for the phone will be used for the Internet. Personal use of the Internet or abuse of playing games or gambling over the Internet, Personal Facebook, during work hours, will be reason for dismissal.

Wi- Fi is available for all that are associated with the station – it should have a password entrance and not be available for the general public or businesses no associated with the station.

7. Solicitation – In the interest of comfort, convenience and continued good will of customers, there shall be no solicitation or distribution of unauthorized literature of any kind by an employee during working hours. Non-employees may not solicit or distribute materials for any purpose anywhere on the property. Posters of community events, brochures or fund-raisers are not considered solicitation.

8. Possession of Firearms – No employees should ever bring any firearms, knives, explosives or any other kind of weapon to work. Such behavior puts fellow employees and customers at risk. Possession of any kind of weapons will not be tolerated.

9. Greeting and working with customers, co-workers, volunteers, committee members or board members – You should be gracious to our customers as you would be to your guests in your home. Remember, our primary function is to serve the community and do so with a positive

10. Appearance – TOP FM is a professional service organization. Dress code will be that which is expected for a professional business. Your appearance to our customers should be important to you as well. The assurance that you look well increases your confidence and sense of well-being in greeting and serving our customers. The appearance of TOP FM personnel is also important to TOP FM’s future patronage. Every employee’s appearance affects the high standards of cleanliness and quality of TOP FM.

11. TOP FM management believes in positive performance management. It is our policy to listen to employees’ suggestions for getting work accomplished. Clear communication is vital to any organization; it is TOP FM’s policy to have clear communication both for and from employees.

Guidelines for Misconduct & Disciplinary Actions – The Board of Directors and Executive Staff will make every effort to assist employees in achieving and maintaining satisfactory work performance and work habits, and will work with employees who do not meet performance standards.

If employees are found performing in any way not acceptable by TOP FM management or directors the following action will be taken.

The first time an employee is reported for misconduct management/director will visit with the employee and discuss the action. A note of the discussion will be added to the employees personnel file.

The second time the employee is reported for misconduct the employee will sign a written report. This report will say the employee understands this is his second reminder and that management has discussed the issue with the employee. At this time the employee will also understand that one more time and the employee may be terminated.

The Employee should sign this report.

Third time, conduct will be discussed with the manager; a written report will be completed and signed by both employee and manager. Employee will be asked to turn in any property that does not belong to him/her and the employee will be terminated. If the employee has a contract, this type of action will supersede any contract the employee has.
Exception – conduct that is not tolerated by TOP FM as listed in this handbook can mean immediate dismissal without prior notice.

The Board of Directors reserves the right to deviate from this disciplinary procedure at any time when it considers it appropriate to do so.


All employees of TOP FM are employed “at will,” and can be terminated at any time with or without cause. All statements contained in this handbook or any other company manual, employment application, recruiting materials, memoranda, or other materials provided to applicants or employees in connection with their employment shall be interpreted consistent with this termination policy and no director or employee has any authority to modify this statement in any way.

At the time of hiring, employees are required to sign a statement acknowledging that they have read and understand the company policy. This includes the “at will” policy of the company and that they are subject to termination at any time for any reason with or without cause.

No company representative is authorized to modify this policy for any employee or to enter into any agreement, oral or written, contrary to this policy.
Completion of an introductory period or length of employment does not change an employee’s status as an employee-at-will.

Check signing policy

Members of the Executive Board, other Board Members and the General Manager will have the check signing privileges. All checks will require two signatures before they can be paid. Checks/purchases for day to day operations under $500.00 will already have prior approval. Purchases over $500.00 or aggregate total over $500.00 or exception to the day to day payment must have board approval and appear in the minutes of the Board of Directors.

Training Policy

The Board of Directors realizes that training is essential for personal and business growth. With that concept in mind the board will encourage employees to attend training session. Each time a training option is available it will be submitted to the Board of Directors for acceptance and approval. Decision to attend training will be based on the type of training, remaining budget for training and the financial situation.

Equipment Training

All employees will have basic knowledge of how the radio equipment (for example, the mixer) works. Understanding how the equipment works will always give the radio station a backup in the case the normal operator is unable to continue his/her work. Knowledge of how the radio station operates will insure the radio station is always able to operate.
Expense Payments

Employees will be reimbursed for expenses incurred on behalf of the employer. However, approval for expenses should be obtained in advance, when possible.

Policy on paid speaking engagements

Occasionally employees will be asked to speak as a guest for area organizations. This is an important aspect of TOP FM’s growth and awareness and is highly encouraged. When an employee speaks for an organization during normal business hours and receives payment for speaking this money will be turned over to the radio station as a donation to the station. This type of engagement falls under part of the employee’s job descriptions and he/she will already receive payment for those hours of work. This includes tours of the radio station.

When an employee agrees to speak to a group over and above his/her normal working hours and receives payment for this, they will be allowed to keep whatever they receive. Many times speaking to groups will fall under promoting the radio station and organization will not pay the speaker. If this is the case hours contributed will fall under the employee donating his/her time for the growth and awareness of the radio station.
Whenever donations are received for the radio station during speaking engagements or other circumstances the money will be turned over to the radio station.

Underwriting Policy

TOP FM reserves the right to reject any underwriting request that does not conform to KPVL guidelines as listed below for any reason for no reason at all. See Programming committee Manual

Detailed guidelines:

These regulations serve to protect the non-commercial content that public radio listeners value so highly. In this way, the special integrity of the relationship between the station and our listeners extends to the underwriter as well. The public radio listener positively identifies the underwriter with the high quality programming of TOP FM.

Your underwriting announcement will be carefully crafted to suit your marketing and public relations needs while complying with the LTA regulations applicable to non-commercial stations. Your announcement on TOP FM may be up to 30 seconds in length and may include, but not limited to, some of the following elements:

Underwriters business or organization name, or that of the subsidiary, legal DBA, operating division or parent company Location of the business Duration of business phone number or web address A value-neutral description of the business or organization Trade names, products or services that identify the underwriter An established corporate slogan that complies with all LTA regulations applicable to non-commercial stations
The Federal Communications Commission mandates that underwriting announcements may not include alliterative or comparative (i,e, best, largest, oldest, cleaner than, safest, speedy, reliable, for a good time), or promotional language (i.e. award-winning). Pronouns (i.e. you, yours) are not permitted. Calls to action, pricing information and inducements to buy or sell are not allowed. (Call for more information, hurry on down, be sure to see them, don’t miss it, try our product etc.)

We cannot accept any consideration (money) to express the view of any person or any issue of public importance or public interest. Innocuous messages such as “Love the Earth” or “Be kind to Your Children” would probably be okay, anything more controversial or topical such as legalizing marijuana, ending discrimination, stopping a war, or voting a particular way is not.

Underwriting announcements must be consistent with TOP FM’s image and of general interest to our listeners. TOP FM does not accept pre-produced or pre-recorded announcements or announcements with music beds. All announcements are produced and recorded by TOP FM’s staff or under staff supervision. Final approval of copy lies with TOP FM and must be in-house seven days prior to the start of the schedule to avoid a delay of the scheduled start date.

Acceptance of underwriting and announcements with potential conflicts of interest and problems of listener misconceptions will be taken into considerations on a case-by-case basis. TOP FM reserves the right to refuse to accept underwriting from companies, businesses, organizations or any other entities deemed to be inconsistent with TOP FM’s image, not of general interest to TOP FM listeners, or that could be detrimental to the welfare and image of the station.

Nonprofit Underwriting Guidelines

TOP FM accepts paid public service announcements from nonprofit organizations that are: Consistent with TOP FM’s image Deemed to be of general interest to TOP FM listeners. Not intended to solicit contributions from TOP FM listeners
In general, underwriting announcements:

Must be up to 25 seconds in length. Must conclude with the sentence “This announcement is sponsored by (nonprofit organization).” This follows your 25 second announcement. May use promotional language in a non-commercial direct manner to describe a service, event, exhibition or performance. May include location, phone number, dates and times. Pricing information is not permitted. Announcements will be voiced by a TOP FM staff member, and produced by TOP FM. Wording is subject to approval of LTA attorneys and TOP FM. Announcements with potential conflicts of interest and problems of listener misconceptions will be taken into consideration on a case by case basis.

Nonprofit underwriting announcements are subject to availability, and rates are subject to change. Invoicing is done monthly for previous month’s run of announcements. Wording of announcements must follow LTA and station guidelines. An underwriting agreement must be signed and returned before a schedule can be trafficked and aired. New clients may need to submit a completed credit application. Acceptance of announcements and underwriters with potential conflicts of interest and problems of listener misconceptions will be taken into consideration on a case by case basis. TOP FM may refuse to accept underwriting from companies, businesses, organizations, or any other entities deemed to be inconsistent with TOP FM’s image, not of general to TOP FM listeners, or that could be detrimental to the welfare and image of the station.

Political Announcements

TOP FM will not broadcast any public service announcements of political nature for free. This includes but is not limited to campaign events and party meetings. News coverage of political activities is exempt from and therefore falls outside of this policy.
Public Service Announcement (PSA) Policy

TOP FM reserves the right to reject any PSA for any reason or for no reason at all.
PSA’s are a welcome part of community radio and TOP FM will be happy to present them on air. PSAs that are not in line with TOP FM standards and guidelines will not be aired.

****In the event that the underwriting policies are challenged, or the reasons for not airing are not clear – the final decision will come to the Board of Directors.****
Additional Volunteer Information

A major part of TOP FM local programming is done by passionate, creative on-air volunteers. In addition many volunteer contribute a vast amount of professional guidance to operations and on-air broadcasting. All volunteers, on-air and off air are valued and appreciated for their contribution to TOP FM Radio.

Volunteers are to adhere to all aspects of this handbook the same as employees
Conduct, Attendance

Volunteers are to start and end the shift on time. Volunteers are expected to behave courteously toward everyone they encounter, including phone calls.

Volunteers who are unable to fulfill regular volunteer shifts are responsible for notifying the appropriate supervisor and for finding a substitute who meets the supervisor’s approval. Advance notice of at least two week will be required for a period of leave and in the case of illness immediately calling when you know you are ill. Missing four or more consecutive weeks or continued sporadic absences may result in a position being permanently assigned to anther volunteer. Failure to notify a supervisor of an upcoming absence will be grounds for immediate.

Volunteers are expected to be on time and prepared for their work or program. If a volunteer would be late, they need to call the supervisors or volunteer on duty to help cover the time required for the late arrival.

All volunteers have the right to discuss or criticize problems they see with the station. All criticism should be brought to the attention of the immediate supervisor/manager or Executive Board. Use of the on-air broadcasting to air your criticism is not only inappropriate but strongly discouraged. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. TOP FM will hold volunteers personally liable for any defamation of an individual. Liability will include all related expenses, charges and fines.

Personal Information & Property

Volunteers are asked to report any changes in their phone or address and always keep the information at the station current. This information will not be released to anyone, but is important for the station to have on file.
Personal property should NOT be left at the station. TOP FM will do everything we can to return or keep your property safe, but will not assume any liability for lost or damage property. Volunteers will be responsible for their own personal property.
Security and Front Door Lock
Pass codes for the front door will only be given to volunteers that will need entrance, when other staff or volunteer are not at the station. The Office is open to the public from 9 to 5 and should be locked after hours.
All TOP FM employees and volunteers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure the safety and security of the station, facility and equipment. A volunteer who admits anyone during off hours will be responsible for the conduct of whomever they admit. Volunteers have the right to ask questions to any stranger on the premises and to ask anyone to leave immediately who is disruptive or behaving suspiciously. When needed call 911 for the police. The door will be unlocked at the start of the day 9 A.M. and locked at 5 P.M. or as paid employees leave. If anyone would find the door unlocked during off time, it should be immediately reported to management.
Passcodes will be given to Board of Directors, employees that open and close for the day and volunteers who will arrive when no one is around to open the door. A list of all who have a passcode should be maintained in a safe place and allow the Board of Directors the knowledge of its placement or give a similar list to the BOD. Codes will need to be changed or update when employees or volunteers are no longer part of the station.
All volunteers are expected to exercise care in the use of the station’s property (building and equipment) and to use the property only for authorized purposes. All personal use would need prior approval and need to work around the normal use the station. All material produced at the station by volunteers become the property of the station, and exceptions will only be made upon additional arrangements. Volunteers are not authorized to sell TOP FM products, unless prior arrangements have been made. Any funds received by volunteers will turn the funds over to the station with an explanation of the reason for the income.
All volunteers will be asked to participate in on-air fund drives. Many volunteers answer phones during shifts other than their own. Fund drives should be planned in advance so volunteers are able to schedule the event.
Volunteers may also be asked to help with special events, Soirées, or banquets. Most of these are organized by the fundraising committee, but because they are very labor intensive there will be a need more help. Volunteers are encouraged to suggest possible options for special events and to assist with at least one a year.
Volunteers must play and log all underwriting announcements scheduled during their shift. Underwriting is a significant part of income for TOP FM and is regulated by the LTA. All volunteers will be trained on what this means and how to accomplish this task. Announcements will either be prerecorded or typed and available to reading. If underwriting messages are to be read – READ IT EXACTLY AS WRITTEN, NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS! Do not ad-lib (before, during or after), embellish, add or subtract from it. Practice reading it before you go on-air. Record the word “Underwriter” and next the name of the underwriter in the daily log with the time it was presented: “7/23 Underwriter: Medical Clinic”. No one will arbitrarily select underwriters or another entity (even in jest) as their “sponsor of the day”.
Volunteer training will be the responsibility of the Program Director or a designated person that has the ability to train the volunteers. Any time a volunteer feels less than confident in their duties, they need to communicate that to the trainer. It is important that our volunteers feel confident, so they can put forward their best effort on the work they do for the station.
If equipment would fail during the volunteer’s shift, and the volunteer is unable to correct, there should be number of the Program Director to be called.
These guidelines are designed to inform and empower TOP FM broadcasters to make decisions about what material to broadcast over the airwaves. Radio stations are responsible for everything broadcast over their licensed frequency. All broadcasts and, by agreement with the station, all programmers are bound by certain limitations forbidden by laws originating with “The Criminal Code, Common Law, the Broadcast Act, regulations respecting radio broadcasting and various other LTA policies. There are also internal stations policies that influence what may be said or played on air.
While TOP FM embraces the 1st Amendment principles and encourages freely expressive forms of communication, every station is REQUIRED to conform to the standards the LTA has seen fit to set for us. That means that every programmer, volunteer is bound by these same rules, like it or not.
At any time the programmer would disagree with these ruling, thoughtful and respectful discourse on the matter is encouraged. Please keep in mind that the station belongs to the community and not the individual on-air at any given time.
Much of the self-expression heard on community radio is predictably objectionable or offensive to those who do not identify with the roles played by community broadcasters. The result is complaints, and due to the public nature of radio as a regulated medium, a need to process and resolve them. These guidelines offer information you will need to protect yourself and your program from complaints and legal complications, as well as details about how complaints concerning on-air broadcast will be handled by the station.
Obscenity and Profanity
LTA prohibits the use of obscenity and profanity on the station. Although the LTA would find it difficult to follow all of our broadcasts to confirm the use of prohibited words, they are countless people that are listening on the streaming and radio that can report the broadcast to the LTA. An infraction of LTA rules leading LTA action would jeopardize the operating license of the station. To jeopardize the station is not an option.
The LTA considers a broadcast to be “indecent” if it contains “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by community standards for broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs. Therefore if TOP FM is to remain on the air, it is imperative that volunteers comply with LTA rules at all times. All operators must comply with both LTA programming regulations and operating requirements.
Obscenity is NEVER allowed on air – Profanity is NEVER allowed on air. This applies to Board Operators, on-air guests, callers, and pre-recorded material.
The fine for this violation is $25,000.00 and TOP FM will have a zero tolerance, which means we simply do not broadcast it at all, not even late at night.
If you broadcast a violation: If the violation is pre-recorded material, IMMEDIATELY fade out. Make a note of the CD track so it does not get aired again. Do not draw attention to the mistake by any on-air comments about it. Finally, log the infraction on the comments section of the Daily Programming Log: log the time, the word and what corrective measures they took (E.g. “Pulled it off the air and made a note on the CD”) and notify the station manager of the infraction and corrective measures.
If you hear a violation: If you hear a violation on TOP FM station, report it to the Station Manager directly or contact a member of the Programming Committee.
If your guest/caller violates regulations: If a guest or caller uses offensive language the operator must cut the person off. It is important that you remember that you are responsible for any guest and the remarks they make.
A written warning will be given to the programmer and s/he must get in touch with the Programming Committee in order to discuss the infraction. A second offense: will mean suspension of all privileges. This is a serious enough infraction to not be tolerated for a third chance.
Balance of Opinion
Balance in the broadcasting system should be maintained in the following manner:
Responsibility for balance rests with each broadcaster and the programming it offers. Not all programming must be balanced, only that relating to matters of public concern. The need for balance increases with issues that are increasingly controversial. Individual programs need not be balanced in and of themselves, but the overall programming of the licensee should be balanced over a reasonable period of time. If the topic of an interview is political or is a contentious issue in the community, interviewers are required to make a documented attempt to interview other sides of the issue. It is the broadcaster’s responsibility to decide whether an issue is a matter of public concern and to determine the manner in which balance is to be achieved.
While programmers are encouraged to consider the principle of balanced coverage when undertaking programming on issues of public concern, the station only deals with matters of balance in response to specific complaints. Given the diversity of programming at the station, an issue of significant public concern is likely to be covered from a variety of viewpoints during a reasonable amount of time. If a complaint occurs about a particular area of programming, the Programming Committee will consider whether additional actions are necessary to fulfill the station’s mission of providing balanced coverage.
Libel, Slander & Defamation
Though freedom of speech is unquestioned by the Constitution, the station must abide by laws and other rules concerning the presentation of these ideas. Otherwise, we could be subject to a costly lawsuit.
Libel is a damaging untruth, regardless of intent. Libel and slander are defamatory statements. A defamatory statement is: Calculated to lower someone in the estimation of her/his peers, or cause that person to be shunned or avoided, or expose her/him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or convey an imputation on her/him disparaging to her/him in her/his office, profession, calling trade, or business. Untrue.
A true statement of fact is not actionable even if it is defamatory, but truth is often difficult to establish. To protect yourself your show, and the station against a libel suit, remember: Your facts must be correct and you must be able to prove them.
If someone can prove damage to him or herself, or his or her business or reputation, on the basis of your false information, you and the station could be in trouble. In determining whether a particular statement is defamatory, the courts will not necessarily rely on the meaning intended by the person who made the statement, but will take into account the meaning that was understood by the people hearing it. Everyone who participated in disseminating a defamatory statement may be sued. To avoid the risks of defamation, remember these guidelines:
If you put an article on your show that was written by someone else and defames a person, the broadcaster and the station are as culpable for defamation as the person who wrote the original article. A person can be defamed even if they are not directly named, if someone listening is able to identify them through the statements being made.
The honest belief that what you said is true is not defensible under law.
It’s also not defensible to have made an “honest mistake” in good faith.
Defamatory remarks happen most often in commentaries or editorials.
Consideration must be given to how material being presented will be received by the parties referred to. Opinion pieces should be avoided unless they have been discussed and properly planned out. Any material offering commentary or judgment on specific individuals or groups must be prepared in advance and be well thought out with respect to laws regarding defamation.
Given that libel, slander, defamation and other contraventions of the Broadcast Act can put the station at serious risk of bankruptcy as a result of a lawsuit. The following steps will be taken for circumstances when a programmer has been found to commit libel, slander or to have contravened the Broadcast Act:
The program will be placed on probation for a one year. If anyone involved with the program commits libel or slander, or contravenes the Broadcast Act on the air during this probationary period, the program will be cancelled. Programmer(s) who commit libel or slander or contravene the Broadcasting Act will be immediately suspended for 6 months from ALL programming at the station and may only be permitted to go on the air during this time to offer an apology, if such action is deemed appropriate in remedying the situation. If the station is sued and required to pay damages as a result of slander or libel, the programmer(s) responsible will be expected to pay expenses not covered by our liability insurance coverage.
Criticism, Ridicule, Humor Concerning Persons, Groups, and Institutions
The First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech protects programming that “stereotypes” or otherwise offends people with regard to their religion, race, national background, gender or other characteristics. It also protects broadcasts that criticize or ridicule established customs and institutions, including the government and its officials. As the LTA has observed, “if there is to be free speech, it must be free for speech that we abhor and hate as well as for speech that we find tolerable or congenial.” Consequently, the LTA cannot prohibit such programming. However, use of such language may leave the station open to charges of defamation (libel, slander) via civil suit. Such a suit would jeopardize the station’s ability to continue broadcasting.
Defamation: “Libel,” “slander,” and “defamation” are commonly used as synonyms in ordinary language. However, defamatory communication in writing is termed “libel” while one made via the spoken word is termed “slander”. However, because the underlying distinction is between permanent and transient communications, some jurisdictions regard all defamatory communications (even spoken statements) broadcast on radio or television as “libel.”
According to the American and English Encyclopedia of Law, a libel is a malicious defamation tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or to impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue or reputation, or to publish the natural or alleged defects of one who is alive, thereby exposing him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy; or to cause him to be avoided or shunned or to injure him in his office, business or occupation. Statements presented as fact must be false to be defamatory. Proving to be true is often the best defense against a prosecution for libel. Truth alone may not be a complete defense. It may be necessary to show that there is a well-founded public interest in the specific information being widely known, and this may be the case even for public figures.
Elections & Referendums
Sponsored or contracted airtime is not available for political endorsement. This does not apply to political or social movements that are not vying for government power. If programmers choose to give airtime to an election or referendum campaign, they must give “equitable” time to all accredited political parties and rival candidates represented in the election or referendum. “Equitable” airtime means giving all candidates and parties some coverage (not necessarily equal coverage). It would best to have the material reviewed by the Programming committee prior to broadcasting
Election or referendum coverage must be oriented toward issues, not personalities or political parties. It must be interactive, balanced and provide equal opportunity. It is not meant to allow free airtime to candidates.
It is legally forbidden to broadcast a program, announcement, or comments of a partisan nature on the day before or the day of an election or referendum in the area we serve. The broadcast of election results of a riding before the polls close is also prohibited.
It is also against the law for a candidate in an election to host a radio program while his or her election campaign is underway. Programmers who are also candidates cannot carry out any on-air duties during the election period – the time the election is called through to the polls closing.
Retention of Material Broadcast: Personal Attacks & Political Editorials There are two categories of material that licensees are required to retain for limited periods: personal attacks and political editorials. Personal attacks occur when, during the presentation of views on a controversial issue of public importance, an attack is made upon the honesty, character, and integrity or like personal qualities of an identified person or group. The LTA’s rules require that after a personal attack, the licensee must, no later than one week after the attack, transmit to the person or group attacked: a) notification of the date, time and identification of the broadcast; b) a tape, script or accurate summary of the attack; and c) an offer of a reasonable opportunity to respond over the licensee’s station.
Political editorials involve the endorsement or opposition of a legally qualified candidate or candidates during an editorial. Within 24 hours after the editorial, the licensee must transmit to the other qualified candidate(s) for the same office, or the candidate(s) opposed:
1. A) notification of the date and time of the editorial;
2. B) a script or tape of the editorial and
3.C an offer of a reasonable opportunity for the candidate or a spokesperson for the candidate to respond over the licensee’s station.
The word “editorial” refers to a broadcast statement of the opinion of a licensee. “Comment” or “commentary” refers to the broadcast opinions of persons other than the licensee. Whether a statement of opinion is an editorial or a commentary will usually be made clear at the outset of the statement.
Anti-Government Remarks
It is illegal to broadcast any remark that advocates or teaches the use of force to change the government of United States according to the Criminal Code. This “seditious libel” law does not apply for any sort of criticism whatsoever of the existing system of law, courts constitution, etc., as long as violent overthrow is not mentioned.
False or Misleading News
The Radio Regulations prohibit the broadcast of any false or misleading news. Artistic works that imitate or recreate actual events must be contextualized in order to make the fictional nature of the work clearly apparent to listeners.
Trial Coverage and Media Bans
The need to ensure a fair trial in the courts can come into conflict with the station’s freedom to broadcast. When a legal matter is under the jurisdiction of the courts, no one should interfere with the court’s proper handling of the case. This does not mean that we cannot report and comment on a trial once it is under way, it just means we have to be careful not to prejudice the trial or attempt to influence the results. Media bans mean that no information about a case can be broadcast.
Food, Drugs and Medical Advice
The Regulations Respecting Radio Broadcasting prohibits the broadcast of a recommendation for the prevention, treatment or cure of a disease or ailment unless appropriate government bodies have approved the script of the recommendation.
A broadcaster cannot appeal for donations for an organization unless it is: A church or religious body permanently established in Liberia and serving the area covered by the station A recognized charitable institution or group A university A musical or artistic organization whose principle aim is not for profit.
You cannot re-broadcast anything on TOP FM that you have recorded from another radio station or from films and videos without seeking and gaining the permission of the owner of the copyright. Infringement of copyright carries stiff penalties. Books, articles and other printed materials are usually copyrighted. Written permission must be obtained from the author or publisher to read these on the air. After 50 years, written material comes into the public domain and permission is not needed.
Music copyright is covered by the station’s payment of fees to Liberia government. You do not need to obtain permission to air musical recordings, but you must record the name of the artist and song title on your log sheet.
Regulations Respecting Radio Broadcasting prohibits the broadcast of any person’s comments, live or taped, without that person’s permission. If you are taping an interview be sure to inform the person they are being taped. If you are using an open phone line, be sure the person knows that they are on the air!
When taping an open session (lecture, speech, panel, etc.) BE CERTAIN that everyone present, especially the presenters, know the meeting is being taped for broadcast. It is a good idea to get individuals to sign a waiver allowing the material to be broadcast by the station, held in the archives for future broadcast and possible reproduction.
Open Line Programming
Open line programming means putting listeners on the air via telephone. This format of programming involves listeners in an open forum, allowing for a wide variety of opinion. However, open line programming can also be difficult to control and may put the station at risk.
Since programmers and the station are responsible for everything broadcast over the air, callers to an open line program are no different than in-studio guests with respect to what can and cannot be broadcast. Danger lies in the chance that callers may make remarks that contravene the laws and policies concerning libel and slander, abusive and hateful comments, or obscenity and profanity.
Guidelines for open line programming: Topics should never encourage comments that are prohibited by law, broadcast regulations or station policy. All participants, especially guests, should be familiar with these guidelines. Callers must be screened before being put on the air. This means that the call must be answered off-air and the intent of the caller must be questioned and confirmed as being legitimate with respect to the intent of the program. Programmers should be prepared to take immediate and appropriate action, if callers make prohibited comments, by interrupting the caller or disconnecting the call. These actions could be used in conjunction with a response to the caller’s comments and a statement to all listeners that such comments are prohibited. Unless the program is explicitly directed to a specific group and specific callers are targeted, a variety of perspectives should be allowed on issues of public concern. Be aware that organized groups of callers may try to turn the program into a vehicle for the presentation of one point of view.
All participants should be treated fairly and with respect. Programmers should not give advice in areas beyond their expertise.
The Rights of Listeners
It is the right of any member of the listening public to file a complaint against the radio station about what is broadcast and to see that complaint processed in a formal and public manner.
Complaints may be communicated directly to the station or via another body such as the police, the LTA or a representative, such as a lawyer. If it is directed to the station, the complaint may be informal, like feedback or criticism, or formal, demanding further action. If a complaint is directed through a third party, it can generally be assumed to be formal. If a complaint is to be considered formally, it must be accompanied, either at the time of broadcast or during follow-up, by a name and a phone number or address.
If a law has been or is perceived to have been broken, the complainant is in a position to take action through the courts. The complainant would, probably with legal counsel, file a suit against the station or individuals involved if the issue is defamation. In the case of a law respecting obscenity or for example election coverage, the complainant would likely go through the LTA or, though considerably less likely, through the police.
The Responsibilities of Programmers
As a community station we encourage feedback and participation from our listening audience. It is your responsibility as a programmer to acknowledge complaints, to ascertain whether or not they are formal, to provide a reasonable justification for the material that provoked the complaint, and to work toward a resolution of the complaint.
All formal complaints must be forwarded to the Station Manager. If a complaint is dealt with effectively and the listener is satisfied, the issue can be resolved internally and risk for the station is minimized. General considerations: Always be prepared. Never broadcast material that hasn’t been previewed or planned. Give due consideration to material that could be considered objectionable Seek advice from other programmers or the Station Manager regarding provocative material. Be prepared to justify and contextualize anything you say or play. Remember that you and the station are responsible for everything that is broadcast.
Guidelines for dealing with complaints: Be polite. Assure the complainant that their criticism is being taken seriously.
Be non-confrontational. Try to diffuse the anger or frustration that motivated the complaint. Avoid engaging in gratuitous debate. Present your reasons for having aired the material in the way that you did simply and clearly. You can apologize for offending the listener without apologizing for what was played. You can acknowledge the complaint on air and present your justification to all your listeners. Explain what the material is about and why you think broadcasting it is important. Do NOT, in any way, take advantage of your position on the air by engaging in a one-sided debate or insulting the complainant or their position. Encourage feedback. Opening the phone lines may provide for input from people who want to express their opinions on the topic. If the material broadcast is controversial, there will likely be a diversity of opinion. If the complainant wants to take further action, document the complaint and complainant. Forward this information to the Station Manager and encourage the complainant to contact the Station Manager directly. If the complainant is abusive or threatening, you are not obliged to continue speaking with him/her. First warn them that you will not continue talking with them if they are abusive. If they continue to be abusive after this warning, you may hang up. Any threat should be taken seriously and applicable reaction may be required in certain situation or to call 911.
The Responsibilities of Programmers: Contextualization
As the airwaves are public property, due consideration must be paid to how listeners are hearing the material broadcast, in response to how it was intended. The contexts in which a given broadcast is heard may vary greatly. Broadcasters should consider the fact that material being presented could be received by anyone with a radio/computer, thus opening a multitude of possible interpretations and understandings of the material being presented. How and when materials are heard, as well as what they are and why they were broadcast, have an impact on decisions regarding whether the materials are suitable for broadcast on the public airwaves. Hence, context is often the critical factor in determining whether a given broadcast is within the limits of the law and other rules governing radio broadcasting.
The context of radio programming, how materials are presented or contextualized, is the responsibility of the programmer. While the station as a whole is ultimately responsible for everything broadcast, the primary responsibility for the impact of how material is presented lies with the programmer.
Context has been central to the interpretations made and precedents set regarding complaints about controversial programming. Thus far, the onus has been on radio stations to justify what material is played, and when and how it is presented. With respect to controversial programming, the question, “Was the material adequately contextualized?” is frequently asked. Context is the
framing of material to ensure that the meaning and intent of the material is established, clear and, hence, not open to misinterpretation, or at least less likely to be misinterpreted.
The following is a list of things to consider when thinking about the context created by a program what context it is heard in.
Time of Day
This bears significant impact on who is listening and what impact broadcasts will have. Some material is considered appropriate for broadcast, but not for children. Examples include the use of profane language (not allowed), depictions of violence and descriptions or representations of sexuality.
Target Audience
The station is mandated to provide a service for groups and individuals who are under-represented in the mainstream of our society. Conflicts can arise between this mandate and listeners who do not identify as the “target” audience but are tuning in anyway. Programmers targeting their broadcasts to a specific audience should be aware that anyone with a radio is in a position to tune in. Comments or materials presented may be in context, understood and appreciated by members of a target community, but misinterpreted or offensive to listeners who do not identify with that specific culture or group. Programmers are not required to contextualize broadcasting for listeners who may object to the existence of a specific program (for example, a lesbian program) or to the issues and concerns represented in the interest of that group or movement.
One solution for programming controversial material is to use warnings before, during and after the program, to inform listeners of the potentially objectionable nature of the material being presented. Warnings give listeners an opportunity to tune out material they may find offensive. However, warnings may also have the opposite effect, making listeners, including those who will likely object, tune in more closely; and they may degrade material, apologize for it, or add an element of shame.
Thematic Programs
These include a central topic for the program or segment reinforced by elements such as commentary, reportage, music and interviews that help define and explore the theme. Thematic programming can provide adequate context for materials that could be considered objectionable by buffering the material with explanations, other perspectives and background information that highlights the importance of playing the material.
The Role of the LTA
The LTA’s Enforcement Bureau is responsible for resolving complaints of non-technical broadcast violations such as complaints alleging broadcast of obscene, profane and/or indecent material, violations of the LTA’s rules regarding broadcast of hoaxes, licensee-conducted contests, broadcast of telephone conversation, and public inspection file requirements. Here is the LTA’s process for indecency/obscenity complaints, from the website (www.lta.gov.lr/):
The Role of the Station
In most cases, it is in the interest of the station to keep complaints out of the domain of the courts. While some issues may be worth taking a stand on, arguing complaints may be time-consuming and expensive, draining the station of financial resources and or resulting in the suspension of our broadcast license.
Complaints about Co-op Radio’s on-air broadcasts should be directed to the Station Manager/Programming Committee. Complaints can be made by handwritten or typed note, through email, in person or by phone. The Program Director shall acknowledge receipt of all complaints and may decide to take complaints first to the programmers concerned or directly to the Programming Committee. In either case, both the programmers involved and the Committee shall be informed of all complaints regarding programming at the station. The Station Manager will ensure that a Board rep on the Committee receives a copy of all complaints.
If a complaint is taken directly to the programmers concerned, the programmers and the Program Director in consultation can decide to: Dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it is frivolous or that to air it would violate programming policy. Resolve the complaint off-air by approaching the complainant directly. Draft a letter of response to the complaint and submit it to the Programming Committee Read the letter of complaint or excerpts from it on-air, or broadcast a panel or forum that includes the complainant or another person who holds the same or similar views on the issue at stake in the complaint.
When a complaint is taken to the Programming Committee, the Committee shall review the complaint and, where possible, listen to the segment or program at issue in the complaint. If the Committee decides that further action is warranted, this procedure will be followed:
MONTH 1 Programmers involved with the show named in the complaint are informed that a complaint has been received and are asked to submit a letter of response or attend the next Programming Committee meeting if they wish. The Committee will draft a proposal for resolution of the complaint. The Committee will arrange to monitor the program until the next meeting. The Committee will inform complainants of the steps taken.
The Programming Committee will review the complaint and decide whether the problem has been resolved or dealt with adequately. Committee members who monitored the program will give a brief report back Programmers will have the opportunity to share their side of the story, through the presentation of a letter of response * Programmers and other guests shall be asked to leave the meeting while the Committee deliberates in camera over whether further action is necessary.
If the Committee decides that further action is warranted, it will draft a letter to the programmers involved, stating the nature of the problem, the programming policy or objective that has been contravened and a proposal for resolution of the complaint. This letter shall also inform the programmers that they are on probation for one month starting immediately and that their program will be suspended or cancelled at the end of this probationary period if the problem continues. The programmers will be invited to submit a letter of response or to attend the next Programming Committee meeting if they wish. This letter shall be delivered to the programmers at least one week before the next Programming Committee meeting and a copy will be kept in the program’s file at the station. The Committee will arrange to monitor the program for another month.
MONTH 3 the Programming Committee will review the complaint and decide whether the problem has been resolved or dealt with adequately. Committee members who monitored the program will give a brief report Programmers will have the opportunity to share their side of the story, but will be asked to leave the meeting while the Committee deliberates over whether further action is necessary.
If the Committee is still not satisfied with the way the problem has been addressed, probation may be extended and suspension or cancellation procedures may be initiated. Programmers will be informed that they have the right to appeal this decision to the Board and the Programming Committee’s decision will included in the Programming Committee’s report to the Board.
FM Radio – What are radio waves anyway?
A radio wave is an electromagnetic wave propagated by an antenna. Radio waves have different frequencies, and by tuning a radio receiver to a specific frequency you can pick up a specific signal. Audio signals usually occur within a range of relatively low frequencies (from about 20 Hz to 20 kHz). In order for an audio signal to be transmitted as a radio signal it must first be transferred to a higher frequency. This transfer is called modulation.
Radio signals use two methods of modulation: Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM). TOP FM is an FM station. Using FM, the low frequency audio signal is combined with a higher frequency signal called a “carrier.” The signal of the carrier is the number you turn to on the dial. In other words, the carrier for TOP FM is 105.3 MHz. At the higher frequency, the audio is then able to be broadcast.
The TOP FM Signal Chain – Where does it go and how does it get there?
The signal chain is the path that our audio travels from the CD players, microphones, etc. (also known as source devices) located in our studio to the broadcast antenna located at the TELECOM Tower.
The sources in the studio are the devices that produce audio – either from prerecorded material or microphones.
The sources are connected to the mixer in order to combine them. This is easier than having a switch to select between them (as you would on a home stereo), and lets us talk over music, fade between songs, etc.
Studio Head End Rack
The equipment shown in the rack on the signal chain diagram is not accessible to the DJs. This equipment is used to condition the signal for transmission over dedicated telephone cables to the Music Hall.
The transmitter converts the low level audio signal that originates at the studio to a high power radio signal. This includes modulation (discussed below) and amplification. The output of the transmitter is applied to the broadcast antenna.
Signal Chain Interruptions
If this signal chain is broken at any point, the audio originating at the studio won’t reach the antenna and thus won’t be broadcast. Fortunately, all of the devices in the signal chain requiring electrical power are supported by uninterruptible power supplies that will continue to provide power to the equipment during short power outages. So, even if the lights go off, we can still broadcast for a period of time.
However, if you become aware that no signal is being broadcast, notify the Station Manager immediately. The phone number for the Station Manager is on a contact list posted above the studio mixing board.
Although an announcer should be more concerned with overall presentation than the voice itself, the voice is, of course, vitally important on radio. Since it is the only dimension a listener has, it must be effective. The voice can be used to capture and keep listeners interest in your program.
A full, strong voice is supported by the whole person. This means that your emotional state, physical state and entire attitude are reflected in your voice. On the radio, there may be times when you will have to project a more cheerful image than you actually feel. This is when the voice becomes all-important. When you are dealing with radio, voice is not just one part of the performance: it is the entire performance!
Following are some of the factors that affect the voice and suggestions on making the most effective use of each factor.
Your voice is affected by the nature of your thoughts and feelings. Fear, anxiety and depression all find their way into your voice at times. Thus, the voice is the channel through which the nature of character, attitude, and emotions of the announcer are communicated.
Breath is the control for your voice and speech. Controlled yet relaxed breathing while you are on the air results in clarity and the ability to produce sensitive variations in the volume and tone of your voice. There can be no effective speech performance without this breath control. While you are on the air, your mouth is relatively close to the microphone, where every sound from your mouth is picked up and projected to your listeners. Good posture will help facilitate quieter breathing. Also, during a pause of any sort, avoid breathing in to the microphone. And never rush onto the air having run or otherwise exerted yourself. There are a few things more difficult to listen to than a breathless announcer.
When you speak normally to a friend, your mouth undergoes a vast number of minute muscular movements. When you are on the air these movements must be somewhat calculated; yet you cannot have tension in either your throat or your mouth. You must learn to relax your throat. Let your tongue and lips form your words and allow your vocal cords to “release” the flow of sound in a relaxed manner. Huskiness, hoarseness, “breathiness” and raspiness all result from poor breath control and/or a squeezed throat. A helpful hint for relaxing the mouth/tongue before going on the air: place a pencil/pen horizontally between your teeth, pressing down with your tongue. Practice reading your lines and remember to remove the pencil/pen before going on the air!
This is the voice quality in timbre. An open, relaxed throat will emphasize richer and fuller overtones. A tensely squeezed throat will produce uncontrollably harsh overtones. Resonance is best when nasality is kept to a minimum and the throat is relaxed.
There is no question that on radio there must be more than the usual amount of expression in most voices. The announcer must be adept at varying voice tones and volume in a comprehensive and appealing manner. Voice should reflect the mood and excitement of the announcements. Regardless of the situation or copy you must let the listener know that you believe in what you are doing. All meanings must be clear. All subtle changes in mood must come through the announcer’s expression and choice of words. Monotony has no place on radio.
This is how the voice is used to indicate a type of statement. A question will need a rise in pitch at the end. A casual statement will need a different pitch. An exclamatory statement may need a harsh pitch. It is through the use of pitch that the announcer communicates authority and believability to listeners.
Changes in the rate of speech and the use of pauses while speaking are essential parts of the voice. When the rate becomes constant, you have monotony. Generally, importance of topic is reflected in the speech rate. Important aspects will often be spoken more slowly than less important ones. The pause is an oral punctuation mark. With it, ideas are separated. Rate, including pauses, must be varied and very well controlled.
This is your choice of words. Avoid repetition. Enhance your vocabulary so that your topics have more meaning and listener appeal. A misused word almost always sounds pathetic.
There can be no authoritative announcing without useful and accurate pronunciation.
All these factors can be mastered and become second nature to the seasoned radio announcer. Once they are part of your normal speech routines, you can begin concentrating on polishing your voice and other aspects of your presentation. The best way to progress is to listen to yourself. Record your programs and listen back to them to help improve the quality of your voice.
Interviews are an important part of Co-op Radio’s programming. It is important that Co-op programmers strive to bring new voices and new ideas to the airwaves. The following are guidelines to consider in preparing an interview.
Choose a focus.
A focus is different from a “topic.” For example, you may want to organize a program on the “topic” of drug addiction. The “focus” of an interview could be the impact of a safe injection site on street-level drug. Choose the focus of your interview and keep that in mind when choosing guests and preparing questions.
Find the right guest.
The “right” guest is one who can speak directly to your focus from his or her own lived experience.
Don’t over-prep before you contact your guest. Be flexible about your precise focus (e.g. the focus of an interview with a homeless drug-user may be different from that of an interview with a medical service provider, which may be different from one with a sociologist). Don’t be afraid to change the focus if you found an interesting and enthusiastic guest who does not quite “fit” your original idea.
Pre-interview your guest.
Let your guest know what the focus of the interview will be. This will help your guest to organize their thoughts and put him/her at ease. Don’t call it a “pre-interview;” it’s just a chat to see what you’ll talk about during the interview. During this chat, feel free to go beyond your focus to ask anything and everything related to the topic at hand. Take notes! Be sure your guest knows your contact information in case of emergency, the exact date and time of the interview, and whether the interview will be live or pre-recorded.
Double-check the details.
Be sure to have the correct spelling and pronunciation of your guest’s name, how he/she wants to be introduced, the name of the organization your guest is affiliated with and its contact information.
Research your topic.
Don’t expect your guest to provide all the information for you. Being a good interviewer means having a grasp of pertinent facts and contexts before asking questions. The interview is meant to inform and educate listeners, not you.
Prepare your questions.
Choose your first question carefully. Listeners will lose their concentration quickly, so you have to grab their attention and keep it! Create a logical flow through your sequence of questions. Avoid jumping from one subject to the next; instead plan on ways that your questions may evoke answers that will lead to your next question.
Draft an introduction.
KISS – Keep It Short and Simple! Introduce your guest in the manner that he/she would like to be addressed, and leave the details for the guest to address during the interview. Give your listeners space to make up their own minds about the issue at hand.
Get comfortable.
Prepare a comfortable physical environment for you and your guest to talk during the interview.
Listen, don’t talk.
Don’t interrupt your guest!
Think ahead.
Always have your next question in mind while your guest is speaking.
Thank your guest at the end of every interview!
Listen back.
Whether your interview was pre-recorded or live, be sure to listen back to it later. Take notes and think about what you would do differently in the future.
“Pitching” means making a “pitch:” an appeal for members to join and support the station! Pitching is the way we raise funds on the air during our Spring and Fall Member Drives. You must pitch for at least 10 minutes of every hour during Member Drive programs.
13 Lucky Tips for Successful Pitching
1. Brainstorm your “whys.” Imagine you are listening to your own Member Drive show. What would you need to hear about the station to pay for a membership?
2. Make a list of your “whys” and bring it to your Member Drive show, to help remind yourself on the air. Avoid detailed scripts! Try to keep things fresh and natural.
3. Practice with a partner before the Drive. Ask a partner for feedback on your “whys,” “asks” and tone of voice. Ask your pitching partner to help you out live on the air!
4. Say it from the heart. Listeners can sense when you are trying to sell them something. It’s important that you care about what you are saying and sincerely believe that people will benefit from supporting the station.
5. Stay positive. Listeners will feel your enthusiasm and want to join in the fun!
6. Make it interesting. Vary the length and the timing of your pitches. Vary the “whys” so that you are not saying the same thing over and over! Use a variety of voices, music and sounds in and around your pitching to attract listeners’ attention.
7. Tell a story. Share personal anecdotes about your positive or light-hearted experiences with the station. Explain why you joined TOP FM! Mention interviews or performers from specific communities that you’ve recently had contact with.
8. Talk as if you’re speaking to a single listener. Little words like “you” make listeners feel like you’re paying attention to them. “Hi, there, friend! We need your call now!”
9. Set goals and challenges. Set a realistic but ambitious goal for pledges that you want to get on each of your Member Drive programs. Share your show’s goal with listeners at the beginning of the program and challenge them to meet it.
10. Include practical information about membership levels and giveaways. Tell your listeners about the membership categories and their prices.
11. Tell listeners to call in and give out the phone number. People like to be asked, and they can’t call if they don’t know the number! Read it out slowly, clearly and often!
12. Pitch often! Most listeners need to hear 6 or more pitches before they will call in.
13. Thank your callers! Thank callers by name (if they agree to this) and announce the gift incentives that they will be receiving for their pledge.
7 Unlucky Don’ts
1. DON’T say that the phones are quiet. Instead, try something like, “There is still a line open and volunteers are standing by to talk with you.”
2. DON’T use the word “pitch” on the air. Listeners don’t need to know the jargon behind your appeal for support. It may make them feel that you are being insincere.
3. DON’T read out the dollar amount of members’ pledges on the air. This is personal information that the members may not want all our listeners to know!
4. DON’T threaten or make demands on listeners. They will be much less likely to respond to angry or bossy statements than to gentle, sincere persuasion.
5. DON’T complain about the station. This is not a time to discuss your beefs with our equipment, programming, or policies.
6. DON’T forget the facts about membership levels, station contact information, and your fabulous giveaways!
7. DON’T forget the phone number!



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