Jerry Davich: Giving Valparaiso its voice for 10 years
Jerry Davich email@example.com November 4, 2012 11:16PM
WVLP volunteer Bill Page works the engineer board during a recent show at the Valparaiso radio station. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:13AM
After 42 years of working in Indiana’s public schools, Steve Cronk has the blues.
No, not about public schools. I’m talking about Cronk’s “Blues You Can Use,” his wonderful radio show each Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WVLP, 98.3-FM, in Valparaiso.
The retired middle school principal doesn’t host his blues-music show for the money. Or for the fame. But because he loves playing, sharing and listening to the blues.
Cronk is a volunteer at WVLP who truly believes in its purpose, its potential and its very existence. The not-for-profit, all-volunteer radio station, which is celebrating its 10th year on the air, gives a voice to Northwest Indiana residents who otherwise have no such media voice.
“We volunteer because we mutually see the need for this kind of radio programming,” Cronk told me. “And we so much believe in this station that we don’t even want any pay in return for doing it.”
The station was created in 2000 when three local activists applied to the FCC for a broadcasting permit. The permit was received the following year and WVLP went on the air in 2002.
All of this was done without government grants. Instead, Valparaiso residents and a few local businesses purchased the equipment and its broadcast tower.
“WVLP is an exception to the rule,” said Paul Schreiner, the station’s co-founder and current president. “We are here to serve Valparaiso.”
During congressional hearings in the late 1990s, to allow the creation of 1,000 new low-power FM radio stations (called LPFMs), the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio lobbied against them.
“Both commercial and educational media outlets saw LPFMs as a threat,” said Schreiner, the no-nonsense, always-on-the-go driving force behind the station. “Commercial radio’s goal is to make a profit, NPR is to educate, but with a national scope.”
Many other LPFMs are church-based and often share an agenda from the church. But not WVLP.
“WVLP’s agenda is unique. It’s all for Valpo. Our goal is not to be myopic or narrow-minded, but to look at the world intelligently through the local perspective and with a local voice.”
That’s exactly what WVLP offers the Valparaiso community’s airwaves, as well as the rest of Northwest Indiana and beyond via its online capabilities, at www.wvlp.org.
All LPFM stations must, by law, be owned by a not-for-profit community organization. WVLP is owned by Project Neighbors, though it functions independently in terms of policy and funding.
Project Neighbors created WVLP’s mission — to provide a unique alternative to mainstream media commercial stations, to support local culture and to foster that aforementioned voice.
What has the station done with its voice? It airs local news five days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. It offers discussion-themed programming in the form of conversations (with Valparaiso University political science professor Larry Baas and others).
The station’s regular talk shows include “House Rap” with architect Jeff Lewis and Schreiner, who’s a professional builder. Also, “Democracy Now,” featuring national news, “What’s Going On” with Dot Pakan and Schreiner’s wife, Jane, “The Liberal Bias Media Hour” with Mike Garcher, and “The Thomas Jefferson Hour.”
Music shows include “Real Country” with Tony Rose (for old-school country music lovers), “Songs From Camp” featuring folk music with host Mickey Camp, “Livin’ it Up” with John King, and a whole bunch of late-night rockers.
I tell you all this because the little-station-that-could is hosting its annual Radiothon this week, through Friday, to raise at least $4,000 to replace and repair equipment that’s more than a decade old. Donations are welcome, and badly needed.
The Radiothon will also showcase the station’s hosts, shows and local talent.
Two years ago, I was invited to host a show segment during the Radiothon and it later led to my own weekly show, called “Out to Lunch,” airing Mondays at noon.
Gregg Kovach, the station’s executive director, is the wizard behind the station’s curtain who is constantly spinning proverbial plates in the air.
“WVLP features local musical artists and provides programs that are interesting and provocative, programs that you will not find anywhere else on your radio dial,” he said.
True that, I have learned.
Better yet, you can possibly become a radio show host at the station. Do you have a certain expertise or previous radio experiences to share on-air or behind the scenes? Do you have a talk-show host personality waiting to bust out? A special talent to showcase? Eclectic music to share?
If so, contact the station at 476-9000, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the station at 256 W. Indiana Ave. in Valparaiso.
Trust me, if I can host a radio show, maybe you can, too. I have a voice for writing, not for radio. Tell ’em Jerry sent you.