Twenty-seven years ago I replaced Barbara Vazsonyi as WFIU’s librarian. It was to be a temporary job to help pay the bills while I finished my dissertation and looked for a “real job” teaching at a university. But public radio has a way of enticing those who enter its door, and my plans soon changed.
I realized that public radio was the nation’s ideal classroom—a place that continually educates, enriches, and challenges the minds of those who discover it and stay to listen. No tests, no grading papers! At a click of a button a student of public radio could find a world of information and cultural enlightenment. The broadcaster just had to create content and weave it into a magical tapestry of programs. I was hooked and never looked back.
In 1984, our biggest challenge was converting WFIU music collection from LPs to CDs and replacing the card catalog with computerized data files. I remember cataloging WFIU’s very first CD.
Even back then, WFIU was ambitious and not content to be just a pass-through station broadcasting content from elsewhere. When I arrived, the station was producing and distributing nationally the weekly Music from Indiana series. Soon after, A Moment of Science was created, delighting local listeners while tapping into a national market for Indiana University cultural and intellectual product.
A few years later Harmonia debuted, followed by Night Lights and a variety of short modules. Now, downloads of some WFIU’s programs surpass those of stations such as New York’s WNYC. Through global dissemination of radio and online content, WFIU has become one of Indiana University’s strongest ambassadors. Today’s digital on-demand platforms increasingly drive technology with content for both radio and online. WFIU has grown into a leader in online content development and distribution—as you can see with a visit to wfiu.org, or Indianapublicmedia.org.
WFIU has expanded its signal to cover more of Indiana and formed strong partnerships with Indiana radio and television stations. The statehouse bureau was created, and now we are adding two NPR-funded reporters who will report on education in Indiana. WFIU was one of eight stations nationally selected for this pilot project and it is one of our proudest achievements. It attests to the strength of our professional employees who are respected nationally.
Over the years our audience grew in number, as well as in financial support and loyalty. Listener loyalty helped us weather many political storms, including the strongest one of them all currently playing out in Congress and affecting federal funding for public broadcasting. I believe we will continue to prevail in these ongoing arguments. The American public is not willing to give up its public radio, and in many areas of the country, the local public radio station is the only source of news and information.
While WFIU had strong university support and engaged listeners, it was also blessed with an incredible staff. Our talented professionals have been a pleasure to work with, and the current WFIU staffing is superlative. The WFIU team combines historic roots, creative talent, deep production and online skills, national connections, and fundraising experience in ways that instill confidence and ensures success. I have no doubt that they will preserve WFIU’s legacy and take the station to new and exciting levels of achievement.
I have also been blessed with incredible mentors starting with William Kroll, who was willing to take a gamble on me—a music major new to radio and broadcasting—and entrusted me to lead the station. Herb Seltz encouraged me to see the potential of radio as a tool for increasing cultural awareness. Don Agostino expanded WFIU’s reach outside Bloomington and laid the groundwork for digital conversion for radio and television. Perry Metz, my current director, always encouraged WFIU to innovate and invest in new platforms and to forge strong partnerships with IU academic departments. My mentors also included members of our WFIU Community Advisory Board who over the years offered different perspectives that shaped my thinking. WFIU’s cultural and journalistic content has been enriched through the thoughtful participation of so many individuals!
I am retiring from Indiana University and heading west to be closer to family. However, I will continue to work with public broadcasting through Wyoming Public Media, licensed to the University of Wyoming and deeply engaged in the educational mission of public broadcasting. Though I exchange the rolling hills of Indiana for the Rockies, my thoughts will always be with WFIU and the thousands of individuals who helped build this station. And who knows, on a cold and snowy Wyoming Tuesday evening I may even play Ether Game—under a tasteful pseudonym, of course!
Thank you for all the years of incredible radio. Serving you has been an honor and a joy.
WFIU Station Manager