WRHU(FM), a student-run station out of Hofstra University, is on a mission to connect community radio stations around the globe. At the end of the month, the New York station will air the first simulcast of its program “1WorldRadio,” which aims to stretch local programming across a network of FM stations.
“Right now, we are in production with our primary partner, 89.5 FM Bush Radio in Cape Town, South Africa, and will [hopefully grow to include] stations from Europe, South America and Australia over the next few months,” said Andrew Gladding, chief engineer at WRHU.
The program is scheduled to launch Tuesday, May 30, and will kickoff with a live simulcast on both stations. Following the launch, Gladding said the program will continue to run on a weekly basis on WRHU and on its partner FM stations.
“Episodes will focus on the young adult and college student perceptions of terrestrial broadcasting and why it’s important, even during the 21st century,” said Gladding. “All of the partner stations will be contributing content from their own communities and we expect the program to become a rich, diverse celebration of the power and reach of community radio.”
WRHU’s student producer of 1WorldRadio, Mariama Kabbah, said, “I am really excited about getting to highlight many different voices around the world. One of our hopes is to highlight as many stories as we can.”
The show is primarily student-produced by members of WRHU, although the network distribution and oversight is being handled by WRHU General Manager John Mullen and Gladding, who spearheaded the project.
The New York and South Africa stations did not previously have any links to one another. At least not until Gladding took time out of his family vacation in Cape Town to visit community radio stations for his graduate work. This side quest was unsurprising to his wife Katie, who Gladding says puts up with his “obsession with FM” — or at least that’s what Radio World is told.
As it goes, this chance visit led to a much larger project. Gladding said he spoke with the station’s general manager, Brenda Leonard, who told him “this incredible story about a community radio station that literally began because the people did not have a right to speech before the 1990s.”
According to Bush Radio’s website, after repeatedly applying for a broadcast license to the apartheid government in 1992, the station began to broadcast illegally, and did so until the first democratic elections in 1994, where it was granted a temporary license.
“People in South African communities did not have a voice,” said Gladding. “They made it their mission to give their community a voice on the airwaves.”
Now, Bush Radio’s voice, which provides programming services in 12 different languages, is going to stretch far beyond Cape Town’s borders.
“[We’re] excited about the partnership as it brings New York’s arts, culture, news and views on topical issues to our Cape Town audience, and in the same manner takes Cape Town to a New York audience,” said Bush Radio’s Brenda Leonard. “It is important as this partnership shows that media can connect communities across huge distances, and allows them to engage each other without barriers.”
Leonard said she hopes 1WorldRadio will lead to stronger connections between South Africa and the United States. Bush Radio plans to contribute content about local musicians, writers and artists as well as news on important issues in Cape Town and South Africa as a whole.
1WorldRadio will run every Tuesday from 4–5 p.m. (EDT) on WRHU. Tune in via their live stream or 88.7 FM locally.
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