Commentary originally published in Current, May 14, 2001
About a year and a half ago, we were getting ready to launch a new public radio service here on Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I asked for advice from colleagues: How would you make them special? What would you put on the clean canvas of a brand new public radio station, the first one of the new millennium?
Dozens of people took the time to respond, and we excerpted their advice in Current (Sept. 20, 1999), much of which was about how to be local, how to sound different.
“Let the listeners broadcast to the station. Set up kiosks, microphones in public places.” — Tony Kahn
“I want my local radio station to be a good companion through my day. NPR gives me dense, sometimes too intense, too thick, even dull information. But my local station should sound local.” —Susan Stamberg
“Get everyone to do i.d.’s for you. Suggest scripts but encourage them to ad-lib, make up slogans, have fun.” —Ross Reynolds
“You’d be amazed at the range of voices that sound good on your station.” —Barrett Golding
“. . . a slogan that you might try to implement: Expect the unexpected.” —Larry Josephson
“The vision behind the Cape and Island stations now, and since its inception, is to mingle the mainstream with the community voice, to give listeners what they depend on in public radio, but also to stretch beyond what is typical, and give them a reflection, a remembrance, of themselves.” —Sue Schardt
“The radio station of the NIGHT SKY and the HOUSING CRISIS, of CRANBERRY HARVESTS and CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, of LAZY SWIMS and HIGH-SPEED FERRIES, of CHILDREN BUILDING CASTLES ON THE BEACH and JUNKIES SHOOTING SKAG IN THE PARKING LOT, of BLUEBERRY BUSHES and BULL MARKETS.” —Gregory Whitehead
Well, WCAI 90.1 and WNAN 91.1 went on the air last year. The first word to come out of the static was: “Listen.”