Radio benefits listeners in more ways than music


Simon Oszust.

Ariel Ooms, Plymouth senior, installs a new queue into 88.1 The Park’s ENCO DAD system to provide fresh music and promos. December 5, 2022.

John Kreger, assistant station manager at 88.1 The Park, tells the story of his now-deceased grandma, Ruth Kreger, who lost her husband to cancer when she was 60 years old. Every day, she would fill her space as a widow by listening to the radio, which kept her company as she shuttled her grandkids to soccer practice or to doctor’s appointments. For over 30 years of her life, the radio was her companion.

When many think of radio, music comes to mind. However, there are many other resources that a station may provide for the community and its listeners.

“Factors other than music give the station the possibility to serve the community,” said Bill Keith, station manager for P-CEP’s local student-run station 88.1 The Park. “During community emergencies, radio can be a source of information. Think of the hurricanes in Florida, radio was there for them. Even when people might have lost power, they still may have a battery-powered radio where they can get important information about the storm.”

Keith has worked in radio since he was in high school. After finishing college, Keith started working in sales for WGRY, however when Keith began to feel as if doing sales wasn’t benefitting his community enough he applied to become the assistant station manager at 88.1 The Park.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the radio station served to create a sense of companionship, community and normalcy.

“I can’t tell you how many letters we got, how many calls we got or how many emails we got,” said John Kreger. “People said that just hearing kids on the radio was a sense of normalcy for us in a world where everything was paused. [Radio could be new, while] there was no sports, no Friday night dinners with friends and no movies.”

Radio can also help to connect businesses, no matter the size, to the local community. 

As explained by ‘Radio World,’ a news resource for radio managers and engineers all over the world, many businesses were unable to provide physical advertisements during the COVID-19 pandemic. This left radio stations, a resource that more people use while working from home, to fill the void by allowing companies to keep introducing products to new customers.

“[Radio is] a direct connection to the community,” said John Kreger. “Radio advertising, unless you’re buying big stations, is usually more affordable than television advertising. And what do you do when the commercials come on TV? You change the channel or you go somewhere else. In the situation with the radio, it’s harder to quickly go and change the station when you’re driving or doing something else.”

Radio provides a convenient location for listeners to receive information about local and national news.

Sydney Capen, Canton sophomore, runs her weekly program show on 88.1 The Park to entertain listeners and give information about the community. December 19, 2022.

Zach Passmore, Salem sophomore, and Pat Niemchak, Plymouth community member, said they enjoy listening to 88.1 The Park’s “Newsfile at 5:30” every day to receive information about the school district.

Niemchak says radio gives a convenient and safe way to find information about Plymouth, and that she can listen to the radio while driving to work instead of reading the newspaper or scrolling through Facebook at home.

“[Radio] provides an important bonding experience for families,” said Keith. “They get information from our station in a way that no other local source can provide. You can wear 88.1 merch around in the community, and people will occasionally stop you and say, ‘I love that radio station. I love hearing the information about my hometown.’ That’s always kind of gratifying to hear.”