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Radio station benefit keeps the spirit of the airwaves alive

A benefit concert on Wednesday, Dec. 7 for community radio station WBCR-LP featured local area musicians who have been previously featured on WBCR-LP shows.

Egremont — The Egremont Barn was host to a benefit concert for community radio station WBCR-LP on Wednesday, December 7. The benefit included performances by reggae band The Haughties and techno musician Andrew H. Smith, all local area musicians who have been previously featured on WBCR-LP shows.

Techo musician Andrew H. Smith performing at The Egremont Barn during a benefit for WBCR-LP on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

The fundraiser was held to support the station’s operations, according to station treasurer Judy Eddy. “We have an overhead of about $2,500 a month and we are not there when it comes to raising funds to meet this,” Eddy said. “We need to continue to raise funds and hopefully get some sustaining donors to sign up.”

WBCR-LP has been operating since 2004 from a studio located at 320 Main Street in Great Barrington. The station has 33 volunteers and broadcasts its programs on 97.7 FM on a low-power 100-watt frequency.

The Haughties performed at The Egremont Barn during a benefit for WBCR-LP on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“It’s really important to keep this station operating because it’s local media by local people for local people,” Eddy said. “We need it today more than ever in today’s culture and society.”

John Prusinski is the president of the board for the station and has two shows. “How is the station doing? It depends on what your metric is,” Prusinski said. “We’re a nonprofit, and it’s always a struggle. We’re raising funds all of the time. I can’t say that we’re financially booming, but we’re getting by in terms of spirit and adding new programmers and shows. When it comes to that, we’re doing extremely well. In this era of mass consolidation of the media, there are very few voices out there. There’s a voice on the left and a voice on the right. We need to have as many voices as possible.”

Prusinki said that the station was an important voice and resource during the pandemic. “When the lockdown first happened in 2020, we were broadcasting 24 hours a day to listeners where they could get food and other resources,” he said. “This wasn’t something you could find on mass media outlets.”

The station is also important for giving exposure to local musicians, including bands like The Haughties and its lead singer LI. “Music and access to music are one of the greatest innovations that we’ve accomplished in modern society,” LI said. “Keeping it accessible helps us to get more voices heard. For evolutionary purposes, it makes sense to have more access to information and more people with that access will allow musicians to be heard.”

Musician LI, lead singer of The Haughties. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“Our radio station is about direct democracy,” station volunteer and show host Michelle Kaplan said. “We’re hearing from people in the community about real issues that they are excited about. It’s very eclectic, so you hear diverse opinions and music. A community radio station is as essential as the library or the post office. We hope people donate, but we want people to be involved including getting their show. This is our community’s radio station.”

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