Eric Waier - WCR Station Manager
After broadcasting for one and a half years, Whitefish Community Radio is hosting our first week of fundraising from March 7th-13th. Up until now Whitefish Community Radio (WCR) has been a mostly self-funded venture. I had a vision to build a creative meeting space for the artistic community to have a voice and knew that if "I built it they would come." Indeed that has been true with our volunteers who represent artists, actors, musicians, business owners, former FM radio DJs, public speakers, event organizers, and more. We have also been hosts to a multitude of talented guests who represent the many facets of our creative community such as city councilors, non-profit directors, musicians, students in high school that have accomplished amazing things, athletes, business leaders and many more. Running WCR has been a humbling experience that has created dozens of memorable moments and has allowed myself and the many others involved with WCR to connect with so many great people.
“Your Community Connected” is the slogan for WCR and isour mission at its core. I've had several people tell me they heard about a local musician through WCR and then went to go see them perform live. My first thought is always, "Wow! You went and saw them because of something WE did?" My next thought is how proud I am to have been a part of that connection and it happens every day at WCR with all of our 37 volunteers and 27 shows.
So how did we do in 2015? After starting off with one volunteer who played his first show on 2015 New Year’s Eve, we grew to over 30 volunteers and 20 unique shows. As of today we have 37 active volunteers with 27 unique shows. We also interviewed dozens of non-profits, community leaders, and people of interest and made their interviews available online afterwards, which is something no other radio station does in the valley. Several of these organizations have embedded these interviews on their own websites as a way to tell their story and again connect with the community.
We also started conducting interviews and live-music sets in the studio and have featured nearly 30 local musicians. In October of 2015 we stepped up our effort on WCR LIVE and have hosted a local musician almost every week since. As part of this effort we also partnered with The Daily Interlake to write a weekly article about local music and have written over 20 articles to date featuring local musicians and stories about the local music scene.
Diversity in programming. I love Mondays on WCR where our diversity of programming is on full display. Drone ambient music on "Hum-Drum", Democracy Now, an hour dedicated to the local music scene called "Locals Only", alternative punk rock on "Get Familiar Radio", classical (yes classical!) on Classical UnMuted, a live broadcast of Whitefish City Council Meetings on the 1st & 3rd Monday (keep in mind we are currently the only media to broadcast Whitefish City Council meetings live), and then you end the day with extreme, and I mean EXTREME metal on “Crystal Mountain.” We also feature shows with jazz, hip-hop, classic rock, progressive rock, garage rock, and several fantastic talk shows which represent content that you can only hear on WCR in the valley.
Out & About. WCR is constantly getting out of the studio to engage with the the community at the ground level and it's a core to who we are. Being on the ground allows us to interact directly with our audience & get immediate feedback and connect with more people.You may have seen us out. We broadcast live every Thursday morning from the back of MT Coffee Traders in Whitefish, we live broadcast Vinyl Nights at Bonsai Brewing every week, as well as the already mentioned city council meetings. We have broadcast from a dozen community events in 2015 such as the Whitefish Legacy Partners Hootenanny in Depot Park(thank you to the kind souls that saved our canopy during the windstorm), Craggyfest, Open Mics, and various other live music shows. One of my favorite stories is a live-broadcast of an open mic night at the Craggy Range where an artist was able to get his family to hear him play all the way from Chicago. What a way to connect people with our community!
Soooo....how many listeners do you have? I get asked more than any other question. The short answer is it really depends on the show and that audience. We track our audience by how many minutes and hours a day people listened overall, not by individual listener. In 2015 we logged over 15,530 listener hours (that's 647 days if you don't have a calculator handy). So we occupied the brains of people for over 647 days. Scary! For 2016 we expect to at least double that number as we grow our ranks and our number of unique shows continues to grow.
Soooo...how do you pay for this? This is the second most asked question. For the year and a half we have existed, we have mostly been a self-funded operation. I have invested countless volunteer hours and our family and Visa have helped pay the bills and keep the lights on. My idea was to show the community what we had to offer before asking anyone to hand over their hard earned money. I'm proud of what we have created at WCR and hope that you like what we're doing. Our operating costs are close to $10,000 a year, which mostly includes office rent and music licensing fees. That's where you come in! We need your help to keep building WCR into something the community can be proud of.
Soooo...How can I help out? There are several way to help keep the lights on at WCR and two options that cost you no money at all. If you do not have the funds to directly donate or even if you do, this is a great way of helping WCR.
- Make a tax-deductible donation. WCR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit so you can help us out while easing that tax bill
- COST-FREE: Add WCR as your non-profit on Amazon Smile and Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase price every time you shop.
- COST-FREE: Add WCR as your non-profit for Smith's Community Rewards and Smith's will donate a portion of your purchase.
Click the button for more information on all of these options
2016 and beyond. When I wrote about what to expect for the year at the beginning of 2015, I didn't expect that we would not only meet those goals but far surpass them. I had simple goals like hoping to start to conducting interviews and in 2015 we hosted interviews with dozens of organizations and over 100 people inside our studio. Our ranks swelled from 1 volunteer plus myself to over 30 volunteers entertaining the community with 100% locally produced content for 647 days of listening hours...WOW!!
Our success is a direct reflection of the WCR family who volunteer their time to share their fantastic talents with the community. I'm constantly amazed at the level of effort by so many of our volunteers to produce GREAT shows. These are all people that live and work in the same community as you and care just as deeply about it, which is an integral part of community radio.
Our goals for 2016 are simple. Keep doing what we're doing because it's working. Additionally we will ramp up our search for qualified board members to help build a healthy foundation for our organization. We will also continue exploring options to distribute our content including options to get on FM radio.
Keep listening and thank you for your support!