WGDR At A Glance: Annual Local Content and Services
In 2013, WGDR began exploring shared initiatives and partnerships with a large variety of news, and local educational organizations and non-profits. It became clear that GDR and surrounding public access television, print news and certain nearby sister community radio stations shared a need to develop or advance local news programming for their constituencies. With a commitment for shared content, GDR now works with many outlets in Central Vermont, such as The Times Argus, ORCA Media, The Montpelier Bridge, The Hardwick Gazette, The Morrisville News and Citizen, The Stowe Reporter and Vermont Digger.
This year, WGDR’s number of community partners expanded, given closer examinations of shared mission/goals between station and area schools. We built up our youth training program to involve learners not only in the operation of broadcasting, but also in the development of quality productions. This initiative has been given the name of WGDR’s Indie Kingdom, and brought on three new major partners (in addition to Cabot School); Montpelier High School, Central Vermont High School Initiative and River Arts in Morrisville. This expansion won a $20k Innovations and Collaborations grant from the Vermont Community Foundation for the 2014/15 school year!
WGDR Director has been working with the Director on Vermont’s Office Of Creative Economy to explore the assemblage of a development hub for community radio stations across the state. The central mission of this group is to outline shared goals and challenges to present to the state for the prospect of strategic government funding at the local level.
Another key initiative that grew first shoots this year was one rooted in programming forums on topics related to community non-profit groups. “Homegrown Radio” is a block programming initiative aimed at giving local non-profits and listeners a reliable place on the air schedule to meet weekly.
Given our central mission objective of running a station that deserves external investment (serving listeners) and, as a result, is worthy of academic study, we presented a six month long workshop series on the NFCB’s Road To Transformation, the 5×5. These workshops were aimed at educating our volunteer programming community in the best practices of listener service community radio, but were open to the public, with public announcements via broadcast and posters. Aligned with our hope to build greater comprehension of listener service within our internal and external communities, we completed WGDR’s first ever internal annual assessment and evaluation of programming, WGDR’s Self Directed Inquiry.
The results of our increased offerings in NCE best practices has made way for a handful of new regular national and local listener oriented programming, such as new regular programming for indigenous peoples, economic analysis and awareness, and civic participation in local and national governance. More and more of our volunteers are working in groups to produce Public Affairs programming that responds directly to listener feedback. The station developed a new community forum block program of its own, called Homegrown Radio, offering community non-profits call-in opportunities for weekly updates on relevant goings-ons.
WGDR focuses its educational offerings on local youth training. Particularly, local high school aged students are invited to the station’s production studios and are organized in a series of training sessions aimed at developing transferable skills in media literacy and citizen journalism. Examples of these learning outcomes are audio editing, story-boarding, collaborative production and oral presentation skills. The finished products are broadcast on regular programs. WGDR wants to diversify its revenue with innovative offerings to its local community. One such example of this diversification is the development of a sustainable audio production service designed for affordability. This year, our most memorable partner was a group that was launching a learning app for 3-5 year olds. The app was called “Words That Go!”, and in addition to engineering the session, WGDR staff orchestrated the group of 3-5 year old word chorus performers! This made for some memorable pictures!
We devote at least 7 hours a day to Public Affairs and diverse national and international news. By way of call-in programs on many varied themes, WGDR/H is informed of its community’s recurring interests and needs, and in this way, reviews its programming for reflecting the needs of its interest groups.
The station continues to actively support program content related to women’s issues; itinerant agricultural workers in Vermont; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender; the homeless, Native Peoples and the poor.
The 16th Annual Homelessness Marathon was a special 6 hour broadcast that included content from both national and local platforms, and live interviews with homeless persons, and many others.
The Effect On WGDR Of The Community Service Grant From The Corporation For Public Broadcasting
Our Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting supports six, essential part-time station staff positions (Training Coordinator, Communications/Online Coordinator, Production Coordinator, Music Library Coordinator, Underwriting Coordinator and Operations Assistant). Without our CSG, these positions would not exist and the tasks associated would either be performed thinly by management, handled by volunteers, or not performed at all. The purpose of each of these positions is to foster impactful listener oriented volunteer programming, create and facilitate special programming (like the Homelessness Marathon), support programmer engagement of resources (adult and youth radio training, portable recording and broadcast gear, new music, etc) and to assist productive communications and partnerships between all interest groups of the station.
The depth of our syndicated news programs are far superior to what we could afford without the CSG. Pacifica programming, and a wide variety of other programming sources would not be available to our listeners without our grant. About one third of our broadcast week is devoted to airing syndicated programs, and that number would drop drastically without the CSG.
Our broadcast and webcast royalty licenses and fees are paid in part with our CSG grant. Otherwise, that money would instead come from operating budget lines, therefore reducing our overall ability to pay for overhead, payroll, development, etc.
We are able to purchase critical studio and production equipment we would not otherwise be able to upgrade or afford at all (eg, portable audio recorders, remote broadcast gear, as well as repairs and upgrades to existing equipment).
The CSG grant makes it possible for WGDR to remain a viable, reliable and important community service.