How many not-for-profit community radio stations can broadcast that they have hung in for 10 straight years in an era where amplitude modification radio is on a quaintness level with the Victrola?
At least one — Kingston Community Radio airs on WGHQ, 920 on your AM dial, weekdays between 5 and 9 a.m. with the same recipe for hosts and guests cooked up a decade prior.
KCR listeners, hosts and repeat guests all broke eggs and waffles together Saturday morning at their annual celebration brunch at Kingston Family Restaurant. KCR president and “chief volunteer” Walter Maxwell describes the show’s programming of local, regional and county issues as a “nonpartisan” forum for an exchange of viewpoints in which callers may interact with hosts and guest hosts, most typically elected, organizational or community officials. The station operates with 18 volunteers and one paid radio board operator, Carl Welden.
According to Maxwell, he decided to take over the control panel from former host Orville Norman in January 2002, raising $60,000 in funds from underwriters and public donations. Maxwell said that he wanted to create a venue for community affairs and community leaders.
“People love the show,” he said. “When I talk to listeners I get a feel of what people want and they can know their elected officials. When you hear how leaders respond to questions, you can hear, ‘Are they real? Phony?’ More than in soundbites. You can hear if they are consistent with answers or they give you the same jive all the time.”
Maxwell estimates 2,000 listeners are tuned in on a daily basis, the majority of which are over 55. Maxwell added that most of his donors are seniors as well.
Hot topics lighting up the call lines are school board issues, restructuring schools, property taxes, the election campaigns and street and road repair; situations affecting day-to-day Kingston lives.
Charter host Tony Marmo, longtime healthcare executive and former CEO of Kingston Hospital, now hosts “Feel Good Friday” which airs “positive and upbeat topics” every 10 days to mark Marmo’s personal belief that only 10 percent of reported news is positive. He said they focus on community events, fundraisers, family traditions, holidays, sports and more.
“I believe in the format of the show where people call in, especially to their elected officials from communities in exchange of ideas,” said Marmo, “which is really otherwise nonexistent.” Marmo is one of several remaining original hosts, among them former Saugerties supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, current Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber, former Esopus supervisor Ray Rice, former Ulster County Treasurer Lew Kirschner and former Ulster County Legislature chairman Rich Mathews.
Slideshow image: “The Supers” – Greg Helsmoortel of Saugerties, Jeremy Wilber of Woodstock and Ray Rice of Esopus.