Vermont Community Rides High With Radio
(by Ed Ryan)
If you search hard enough, there are still stations out there doing the "minor league" training our industry needs to grow the next generation of successful broadcasters. That, despite the many loud cries that corporate radio is killing that concept. WBTN-AM could be considered one of those stations. Then again, the volunteer voices heard in Bennington Vermont may like what they're doing so much, they may never want to leave for corporate America. Air shifts at this 1K daytimer are covered by local residents who also have full-time jobs. One person is a singer, another a psychologist and even the Superintendent of schools has a show. WBTN Executive Director John Likakis (pictured) says everything is locally produced and almost everyone on the air has no radio experience. WBTN-AM has become that small town's only source for real local news and information.
LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LIKAKIS ABOUT WBTN HERE
Director of Sales Ted Hollo tells Radio Ink, as a non-profit, our focus is entirely on service to the local communities. "Topics range from medicine and law to the arts and local history. School closings and the school lunch menu are included every weekday early in the morning so parents can make necessary adjustments in their schedules." The annual budget for the station is $155,000.
Hollo says "open forum programming gives listeners an opportunity to call in and state their case, their opinions and their concerns. We give voice to many non-profit and charitable organizations and share in efforts to help feed the hungry and direct seniors to programs that especially benefit them."
WBTN also provides emergency information in times of crises. Hallo says during Irene, Likakis and two station volunteers stayed on the air for twelve hours to keep residents informed. "Following the storm, air time was immediately set aside for interviews with the Town Supervisor and representatives from FEMA to outline relief measures, and what steps needed to be taken for Government assistance along with updates on road and bridge repair, water main repair and electrical service. For all of these efforts, the Vermont Association of Broadcasters gave John a Community Service Award in October of this year."
Reach out to John Likakis and congratulate him on his work via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org