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WERU Community Radio Celebrates 25 years

 by Adrienne DiPiazza - July 11, 2013 08:10pm

 Orland - People have listened to WERU Community Radio Station for 25 years. When the founders began, they wanted to fill the airwaves with a new kind of sound.

“We wanted a station that maybe spoke to a little ... the things that were missing from other commercial stations and so on at that time in Maine or for the country. Something that involved community, something that was more personal radio,” says George Fowler.   See the story here.

 

The Ellsworth American, June 27, 2013

WERU-FM: 25 years and counting

by Bill Pearson

 ORLAND — WERU-FM radio, community-supported and volunteer-driven for the past 25 years, hopes to make its yearlong silver anniversary celebration as much about the station’s future as its glorious past.

The nonprofit station broadcasts a wide range of musical genres along with news and public affairs programs. The station began with a grassroots effort led by renowned folk singer Noel Paul Stookey to meet the region’s desire for diverse musical and public affairs programming. There will be several events throughout the year commemorating the station’s 25 years of community broadcasting.  Read the complete article here.

 

The Maine Edge, May 29, 2013

We Are You:  WERU celebrating 25 years of community radio

by Katy England

ORLAND/BLUE HILL – In May, WERU (89.8 Blue Hill and 99.9 in Bangor) officially began celebrating its 25th anniversary. They will be continuing that celebration with the Farm Fresh Live Radio Auction on June from 6 to 8:30 p.m. - more on that later.

Free to be me, what it means to be a community radio

Community. It’s a word that calls to mind town square gatherings, picnics, backyard barbecues and bike rides. It’s marketplaces and concerts on the green. Neighbors looking after neighbors. 

Community radio is all of those things. It may sound strange, but that is exactly what WERU does: it finds different pockets of people and pulls them together. Local news, local musicians and local personalities can all be found on WERU, a station that for a quarter of a century has been operating mostly with volunteers and a small, dedicated core of employees.  Read the complete article here.

 

Bangor Daily News, April 23, 2013

A quarter century of diversity, community and family, for WERU-FM in Orland

by Emily Burnham

The very first WERU-FM broadcast out of folksinger Noel Paul Stookey’s converted chicken barn on Blue Hill Mountain — on Sunday, May 1, 1988, to be exact — almost didn’t happen. The original group of volunteers sat in the studio, ready to go on-air for the first time, waiting for one thing: the station’s FCC license. It was en route, in the hands of the attorney who had secured it, who had flown to Bangor from New York that day and was driving as fast as he could to Blue Hill.

“It arrived 20 minutes before the exact time the station was officially supposed to go on air,” said Matt Murphy, WERU’s station manager since the early 2000s. “You legally can’t broadcast if your license isn’t in the studio. Those early days were full of things like that.”  Read the complete article here.

 

WLBZ TV Channel 2, May 1, 2013

Community radio station in Orland celebrates 25th anniversary

ORLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Wednesday marked the silver anniversary for a well known community radio station in Maine.

WERU 89.9 FM and 99.9 FM is one of the few stations here in the state supported, staffed and owned by the public. The station first went on the air back in 1988 thanks to the support of several people, including musician Paul Stookey of 'Peter Paul and Mary' fame.

Presently the station continues to be supported by many volunteers. Nearly 300 of them do everything from hosting shows on the air to managing station campaigns. Station directors say programming is now reaching listeners up the coast of Maine and worldwide through the station's website.  See the story here.

 

Penobscot Bay Press Weekly Packet,

BLUE HILL
Originally published in Compass, April 25, 2013

On the air since 1988 
WERU hits the 25 year mark

Photo courtesy WERU Photo by Anne Berleant

by Anne Berleant

What began in a converted chicken coop in South Blue Hill—a community radio station for Downeast Maine—will celebrate its 25th year on May 1. 

Some things have changed, like the 12,000 watt transmitter installed last year and 24/7 streaming from weru.org, but the mission of its first pioneers has not.  Read the complete article here.

 

Bangor Metro, May 1, 2013

Radio Renaissance

Written by  Naomi Graychase

Radio is an old-time technology—our parents and grandparents gathered around the radio together to listen. Technology has changed, but the passion for public radio has never been stronger.

Mainers have a lot in common with each other. Whether we make our living pulling lobsters out of the ocean or trees out of the forest, whether we spend our time driving tractor-trailers across the state or kindergarteners across the playground, we each still come home to communities that are small—even the big ones feel that way.  Read the complete article here.

 

Spirit of Winter in Mid-Coast Maine

by Chris Lehmann

This short film, which features the voice of WERU, won the "Honorable Mention" award in the Maine Media Workshops Fortieth Anniversary competition and will be given to both the Rockport and Camden Chambers of Commerce as an archival record for future generations to watch.  Watch the film here.

 

WERU Celebrates 20 Years

Rich Hewitt

It has been 20 years since WERU-FM went on the air, broadcasting from a portion of a converted chicken barn in South Blue Hill. In that time, the "little radio station that could" has grown into a staple for listeners throughout eastern Maine and for a growing audience around the country and the world tapping into the station’s offerings that are now streaming online.


WERU will celebrate its two decades on the air with events during the year, and will mark the anniversary with an open house Thursday, May 1, at the studio on Route 1 in Orland. The day will begin at 1 p.m. and will feature live music, a music sale from 2 to 6 p.m., station tours, an on-air open mike, and a potluck dinner.


READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE:
http://bangornews.com/news


 

Community Supported Radio Station Celebrates 20 Years

 Beth Faulkingham

EAST ORLAND (NEWS CENTER) — Over the past decade, large corporations have gobbled up small commercial radio stations, giving listeners less choices for local programming. Community supported radio aims to fill that niche. Rhonda Frey is just one of the 150 volunteers at WERU in East Orland. She hosts a monthly show called, "Indigenous Voices." As a member of the Penobscot Nation, the show is her vehicle to discuss issues affecting Native Americans.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE: www.wlbz2.com/news/article

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: www.wlbz2.com/video/news/player

Village Soup

(The following appeared on the May 17 2007 edition of Village Soup)


Islesboro natives air business on WERU

by Tanya Mitchell
VillageSoup/Waldo County Citizen Reporter

EAST ORLAND (May 17): Claire Boucher, Lindsay Durkee, Davis Boardman and Allie Craig have a lot in common.

All four females live on Islesboro, own businesses and were featured on Jane Haskell’s hour-long talk show on WERU Community Radio, "Doing Business," which aired live at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 3.

Boucher is a dance instructor, teaching ballet and dance to schoolchildren, and runs a pet-sitting business on the side.

Boardman makes and sells homemade dog biscuits — This Old Man dog biscuits, to be exact — and sells fresh flowers and produce in the summer when she’s not organizing yard sales.

Craig has made financial gains by quenching the thirst of island visitors and natives over the years.

Durkee owns and operates her own 32-foot Holland lobster boat, The Black Diamond.

Perhaps the most interesting thread that links these islanders is their age — while it was not revealed on the air, none of these businesspeople have yet to enter high school….

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE

Bangor Metro


(The following appeared in the May 2007 issue of Bangor Metro Magazine)


We are you RADIO

by Russ Van Arsdale

WERU is the region's only full-power, noncommercial community radio station. How does this eclectic icon survive? People power. In the mid-1980s, the founders of what would become the community radio station in Blue Hill and, later, Orland were meeting to decide what call letters the station should use. When he heard the combination WERU, it hit Noel Paul Stookey—one third of Peter, Paul and Mary—like a flash.

“WERU: We Are You! It was a no-brainer,” Stookey recalls. That was the birth of the station identification heard by tens of thousands of listeners to one of just two full-power, noncommercial stations in Maine. (The other, WMPG in Portland, serves the dual role of community station and training ground for University of Southern Maine students interested in broadcasting.) WERU-FM, on a sparsely settled stretch of Route 1 halfway between Ellsworth and Bucksport, attracts volunteer staff and listeners whose main interest is their community.

These volunteers reflect the sentiments of a nationwide cadre of people who, as one listener puts it, “have had it with the voice-tracked sterile sameness of computer- driven McRadio.”

“Commercial radio has its place,” says Matt Murphy, general manager. “Our focus is service, not advertising revenue. Being a small nonprofit means we can be accessible and eclectic.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE



Down East
Magazine

(The following appeared in the August 2005 issue of Down East Magazine as part of their article "The Maine Hippie Trail". It is reprinted here with their permission.)

WERU-FM:
Maine's ultimate community radio station had its first home in a chicken barn owned by Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), broadcasting from the top of Blue Hill. The station moved to East Orland in 1997 but still transmits its subversive signals -- Democracy Now! -- out into the ether, waging a daily battle of ideas with the Clear Channel chain. www.weru.org

 

Financial Times of London

(Reprinted with permission from the Financial Times of London for September 17th / September 18th, 2005 Weekend "The voices of America" by Jurek Martin ( onohana@aol.com ) )

Letter to America

The contrasting styles of two radio stations reflect
the extremes of left and right in the U. S.

There is a Blue Hill far away in Maine and it is in many respects as much a state of mind as a place.   But it has a voice, its radio station, and if not unique, it is at least different. 

More than 700 miles to the south, the nation's capital has many voices and many radio stations.  But the worlds inhabited by WERU-FM in Blue Hill and WMAL-AM in Washington, D. C., are as chalk and cheese.

If there is a dialogue of the deaf in America, then both represent the extremes.  They talk to their converted, but do not listen or reach out much to the vast middle.

Driving down from Maine, constantly fiddling with the radio dial to catch the war of words in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, suggests this is too typical of the sad state of the national radio mind.  So this letter, held over because of Katrina, came to seem as valid as when written.

Blue Hill is to the northern Atlantic seaboard what Berkeley, California, is to the Pacific Coast and Boulder, Colorado, to the Rockies, a remaining repository of unvarnished 1960s liberalism.  The place is more complex than the stereotype, but you would not know it from listening to its non-commercial "community" station.

Its programming melange of music and commentary is almost sweetly right on.  Hours are devoted to "indigenous, native, world and ambient" music, featuring lots of Peruvian pipes, Indian chants, whale sounds and campesino laments.  Obscure blues, jazz and rockabilly get much airtime by amateur DJs apparently unfamiliar with their broadcasting equipment.

Its words come from Free Speech Radio, the Texas-twang commentaries of Jim Hightower, the progressive icon who never met a Bush he liked, and harsh-voiced Amy Goodman's Democracy Now programme, which preaches democratic values this president would not recognise.

I also caught a long interview with the only transgendered MP in the New Zealand parliament and heard earnest segments on bird migration, the health dangers of industrial toxins and assorted new age philosophies. Programme sponsors include a local acupuncturist and a manufacturer of eco-friendly t-shirts.

For two weeks each summer, WERU is addictive.  For too much of the rest of the year I find myself tuning in to WMAL with the fascination of a cobra confronted by a mongoose, notwithstanding commercial messages from car dealers and laser eye surgeons.

I do so because it features Rush Limbaugh, the most influential of rightwing radio voices. His views are repellent and his vanity noxious but he is no fool.  Thirty minutes of Limbaugh reveal more of the administration's spin du jour than hours listening to official mouthpieces (bottom line; it is all Hillary Clinton's fault).

He has also spawned an army of imitators, most aimed at local markets.  WMAL, a self-branded rightwing station, fills up the hours with several, one of whom recently took to indicting Islam (that is, the whole religion) as nothing more than a "terrorist organisation."

Muslim groups protested, he would not back down and the station, under duress presumably from its owner, Disney, "suspended" him from the air.  He still refused to recant so last month he was fired, his 15 minutes of fame expired.

However, his morning slot was temporarily filled by another motormouth, based 3,000 miles away in Sacramento, California.  He picked up the news that the town council in Herndon, Virginia, an expanding Washington suburb, proposed building a simple facility (shelter and toilets) for the "day labourers" who congregated in a convenience store parking lot, hoping to pick up construction work.

Many day labourers are illegal immigrants and therefore targets for vigilantism.  Pick 'em up and throw 'em out was the word from Sacramento, and, encouraging mob rule, jam the town council's phone lines with protests and turn up en masse at its next meeting, where a local WMAL host will be present to show solidarity.  But Herndon, so far, has stood its ground.

What I heard on WMAL, before finding the gentler embrace of WERU, struck me as hate speech, or very close to it.  Societies that victimize the most vulnerable, regardless of their legal status, are on a slippery slope to something truly nasty -- as history shows.

There is, however, a shaft of light in all this gloom.  Talk radio ratings are dropping like stones all over the country, with even Limbaugh, once boasting 20 million daily listeners, losing upwards of 40 percent of his core audience of 25 - 54 year-olds in big cities. WMAL itself is down 30 percent.

These ratings to fall after an election year -- and Katrina may have lifted them again, temporarily.  But maybe America is finally tiring of this constant demonisation of any different point of view as "far left" or "far right".  (Herndon's mayor was an "ayatollah.").  And commercial sponsors often call for change if slumping ratings persist.

It has happened before.  Father Joseph Coughlin and Walter Wincell, potent early exponents of radio hate, are now but minor historical footnotes.  For now, I'd take WERU over WMAL any day of the week, because it neither threatens nor hectors.  It is not, however, exactly in Washington listening range.

 

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WERU Receives "Rising Tide" Award from the Maine People's Alliance

Maine People's Alliance Rising Tide Award Logo At the MPA's November 4th "Rising Tide Dinner" Community Radio WERU was honored to receive one of several "Rising Tide Awards."

Jesse Graham, MPA Associate Director and Linda Washburn, WERU Volunteer and Member of the WERU Program Advisory Committee, with the Rising Tide Award (appropriately a wooden paddle). The other honorees: John Dieffenbacker-Krall (former MPA executive director, now executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission), Milt Hillery (long-time MPA activist/organizer), Marilyn Canavan (representative in the Maine State Legislature), Rob Shetterly ("Americans Who Tell the Truth" artist) and Candace Gingrich (national LGBT activist and featured speaker).

WERU General Manager Matt Murphy putting the award paddle into place on the wall outside the studio at WERU. All were praised for their work to organize and support citizen action around economic, environmental, political and social justice issues. Governor Baldacci and Congressman Michaud attended and spoke at the event.

WERU is extremely grateful to the MPA for the honor of a "Rising Tide Award."    Click here for more information about The Maine People's Alliance: www.mainepeoplesalliance.org.

(In 2004 WERU received a "Social Landscape Artistry Award" from Maine Initiatives: A Fund for Change, online at www.maineinitiatives.org.)

 

 

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WERU Receives “Social Landscape Artist Award”  (May 21, 2004)

Picture of the Watering Can Award, sitting in the small garden in front of WERU's studio building.Community Radio WERU-FM of Maine was recently presented a “Social Landscape Artist Award” by Maine Initiatives, a prominent state-wide fund for change that cultivates social, economic, and environmental justice through grants and other support to grassroots organizations in Maine communities. The award is one of three “Watering Can Awards” (“Water to the roots… and plenty of it!”) presented annually by Maine Initiatives (www.maineinitiatives.org). Over three-hundred people were in attendance for at the 2004 “Celebration of Social Change” Banquet held in Woolwich, Maine. (including the local chapter of the Radical Cheerleaders, and former Maine Congressman and current Executive Director of the Win Without War Coalition, Tom Andrews). Accepting the Watering Can on behalf of WERU were Lynn Soucy, WERU Board Member and Treasurer, and Matt Murphy, General Manager.

Maine Initiatives Statement on WERU:

Hungry for media that fosters understanding and diversity? Feast your ears on WERU. Since hitting the airwaves in 1988, WERU has trained hundreds in live radio broadcasting and audio production. Started, run, and funded by volunteers and listeners, it's a "voice of many voices" for listeners underserved by commercial broadcasters. For midcoast, downeast, and central Maine, WERU gives airwave access to individuals, musicians, nonprofits, and more - a radio "neighborhood" building community through music, news, and ideas.

Award Presentation Address, Delivered by Naomi Schalit, Executive Director of Maine Rivers:

Naomi Schalit Executive Director of Maine RiversThere are many ways to do radio. There’s shock jock radio, there’s top forty radio, there’s retro “golden oldies” radio (of course, what’s retro on the radio these days is stuff I still consider new!), there’s talk radio, there’s public radio….and, ladies and gentlemen, there is community radio. We are here tonight to honor community radio, which in my book is locally grown, organic, whole wheat, whole grain, unbleached, stone-ground and minimally processed. It’s radio that’s good for you, because it’s real and honest and unpretentious and direct and authentic, and you know where it’s coming from – us. Never was there a set of radio call letters so right on: W-E-R-U. Get it? WE R U. They are us.

And who are we? WERU is Music: World, Celtic, women’s, African, New Age and Indigenous, reggae, bluegrass, hip hop, 80s, punk rock, techno, Latin, zydeco, delta blues, bourgeois blues, jazz, polka, and thank you so much, WERU, the Saturday and Sunday morning coffeehouse, which is where you can hear the best folk music ever played on the radio except for a show that comes from Princeton New Jersey called “Music You Can’t Hear on the Radio.” WERU is the Barefoot Blues Hour, the Goodfolk Meeting House, New Potatoes, Women’s Windows, Rhythm of Life, Old Woodstock, Bronzewound, Highway 61 (for those of you who don’t get the reference, that’s a Dylan show), and Insomniac’s mix. Have I missed any kind of music in this list?

And that’s just the music. But WERU is also “Voices You Can’t Hear on the Radio” -- it’s the Voice of Many Voices, as it so rightly calls itself, where you can hear National Native News, which helps radio listeners understand the interconnectedness between Native people and their non-Native neighbors. They’ve got Free Speech Radio News, the only daily half-hour progressive radio newscast in the U.S, owned and managed by news reporters; and, of course, there’s Democracy Now, whose incisive and powerful host, Amy Goodman, describes herself as an independent journalist searching for the unfiltered truth.

Those are the national programs, which WERU distinguishes itself by featuring. But it further distinguishes itself by supporting and promoting the work and voices of the many local people who ordinarily wouldn’t stand a chance of ever getting on the radio. There’s the legendary Awanadjo Almanac, where local minister Rob McCall waxes eloquent about all things natural, and conveys a profound sense of place as he does so; Boat Talk, a live & local call-in on all things boats; Doing Business, a live & local call-in on small & home-based business; Bird Talk, a weekly bird report from Birdman Bob; Peace Time, a weekly short feature on an area peace & justice group or activity; and Healthy Options, a local program on resources and options for whole health.

That’s only a smidgen of the diversity on WERU. How do they get that diversity? Here’s where the real democracy of community radio resides: They train people, regular people, to do radio. They open their doors, let people in, and show them how to run a board, use a mike, make the CD player work, and produce a program. They have standards, and they teach them – democracy in action on radio doesn’t have to mean dead air, or screaming, or fumbling, or embarrassing mistakes. It does mean voices we’re not used to hearing on the air – your neighbor’s voices, the boat builder’s voice, the shopkeepers’ voice, your acupuncturist’s voice, your children’s voices, YOUR voices – telling us about your lives, what you care about, what you know, what you don’t know, what makes you happy and sad and angry and joyful, and how you’d like to heal the world. This radio station has two hundred active volunteers – how many of your non-profits can lay claim to such a community?

When I wanted to buy a house, the real estate agent asked me what my requirements were. Three bedrooms, two baths, and the ability to get WERU on my radio, I told her. Totally non-negotiable. This past Valentine’s Day, I turned on WERU in my three-bedroom, two bath house. And lo and behold, they were playing some of the most syrupy, chocolaty, sentimental love songs you ever did hear. Now I am not a cynic, nor am I curmudgeonly. But I am single, and most of the time that’s fine with me, but a solitary Saturday morning on Valentine’s day can be hard on even the most hardy spirit….and those damned love songs weren’t making it any easier. So I did what any self-respecting listener of WERU, Community Radio would have done; I picked up the phone and called the show’s host in the control room – 469-0500 for those of you who don’t know it -- and told him that not everyone was paired off romantically this Valentine’s Day and since WERU was supposed to be the Voice of Many Voices, couldn’t they play something else, pleeeeaze, for us lonely single folk on Valentine’s Day, like maybe some labor songs? Couldn’t they play Joe Hill?

Well, within minutes, the kind host had switched gears and was playing civil rights movement anthems. God Bless you, WERU, for your openness, your bigheartedness, your democratic spirit, your quirkiness and seriousness and deep, deep morality. Our world here in Maine is richer because we have you in our midst, and we are all proud to be a part of you.

Acceptance Address by Matt Murphy of WERU:

On behalf of the Board, Staff, Volunteers and Members of Community Radio WERU, I offer our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to Maine Initiatives. We are thrilled and honored to receive a Watering Can Award as a Social Landscape Artist, and humbled to be in such good company with the other recipients, past and present.

Social change and justice are at the heart of WERU, because Community Radio is truly a “village green of the airwaves” where music, culture, ideas and discourse can be shared in a noncommercial, community-centered environment designed specifically to serve the needs of those not fully served by other broadcasters and the corporate media. At WERU we believe that access to information and expression are fundamental human rights that must be nurtured, exercised and defended in order for positive social change to occur.

For over sixteen years we have endeavored to be a “voice of many voices” by offering eclectic programming, local access and open governance to the literally thousands upon thousands of voices, on the air, behind the scenes and out in the community, that have collectively worked to make it possible for WERU to survive and thrive in a very uncertain world. This award belongs to all those voices; to the individuals, families and local businesses and organizations that have helped make this station what it is today, a vital community resource.

Ultimately, Community Radio is about storytelling: stories that are musical or spoken; stories that help us to understand ourselves, our neighbors, our communities and our world; stories that inspire thought, dialogue and action towards positive and compassionate social change. Community Radio WERU is deeply honored to now have a Maine Initiatives Watering Can Award as part of our story. Thank you very much.


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