Portsmouth Community Radio is exactly what the name denotes, a radio station that serves the community. Maybe it would be more accurate to say “communities” because of the many fractures that often place social groups at odds with each other. So how do we, as a programming department, serve the needs of our greater community in a way that encourages unity rather than division?
The first thing we do is to embrace diversity in our programming schedule. WSCA has a strong history of presenting public affairs shows that are rarely heard on commercial stations. The topics of these programs have included politics, spirituality, minority rights, education, wellness, sports, science, or the occult…. As a nonprofit media organization we have no editorial policy and therefore do not support, nor oppose, any social position. We do however police the actions of our on-air talent to ensure that they are presenting topics in an educational, non confrontational manner that helps listeners understand viewpoints that may not be their own.
In our music programming this same commitment to diversity can be found through the specialty shows which dominate our evening and weekend scheduling. We have shows that present deep explorations of jazz, gospel, indie, folk, americana, rock, pop, punk, and comedy. Our weekday music scheduling is designed to appeal to a wide audience and focuses on introducing listeners to new music and artists that they may be unfamiliar with.
The second thing we do, as a programming department, is to make our airwaves available for coverage of issues that are of importance to local listeners. WSCA broadcasts local sports, election coverage, city manager reports, business developments, news headlines, calendar events and weather. We also encourage DJs and producers to broadcast information about educational opportunities, such as, lectures, seminars, or public gatherings for vigil or protest.
Programming for community also demands that we use the power of our media position to assist other nonprofits and arts organizations to reach their goals in serving the community. To achieve this WSCA will often partner with outside groups like, NH Film Festival, Portsmouth Public Library, 3S Artspace, Prescott Park Arts Festival, RPM Challenge, and many more. These co-sponsorships allow us to create enhanced messaging that informs listeners of specific events taking place in or around the Seacoast and increases the value of our service to the community.
Of course there is much more to consider if you are going to successfully serve the needs and interests of a community. Here is a short list of essential keywords for programming which can be, and often are, extended during the decision making process.
Yes… these are words that generate subtopics or have definitions that can be open to debate. How local is “Local”? What is relevant to the lives of listeners? Is criticism supportive? They are keywords that spark healthy discussion about programming choices.
When properly executed, this process will expose mission drift and ensure that our programming stays focused on serving our community in the best manner possible.