In an Annapolis without local programming, new voices and even Crab Radio are finding a way to fill the silence

When WRNR went off the air this thirty day period, Annapolis mourned the demise of its only FM station.

It was a chorus very similar to the one two several years back when Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak sold WNAV for $1 to build the land less than the city’s only AM station. The new homeowners dropped community programming in favor of that syndicated audio you can discover any place and almost everywhere.

“Oh, woe is me,” cried Annapolis.

Truthfully, was anyone still listening to both of these stations any more? When was the past time you ended up in a vehicle with a person beneath 35 who didn’t sync their cell phone to the audio system for personal tuneage? If you have acquired money, are not you listening to satellite radio in any case?

In advance of you transform the dial, pals, permit me say I arrive to praise radio, not to bury it.

“Radio can and should be a force of data for the citizenry,” stated Rob Timm, who still left WRNR very last calendar year for a career as manufacturing manager at WTMD community radio in Towson.

Timm was a program director and an on-air persona for years at RNR, working with longtime programming supervisor Bob Waugh. He was as sorry as any individual to see proprietor Steve Kingston offer the frequency to a Christian structure broadcaster.

Which is simply because of what area radio can be to a neighborhood. It can determine it with fantastic tunes like you in some cases listened to on RNR, or with the nearby affairs programming it and WNAV supplied.

But individuals times are gone in Annapolis. The enterprise and the listeners improved.

John Frenaye reaches 7,000 to 10,000 listeners a working day with his “Eye on Annapolis” podcast. It is like radio, but not specifically. Immediately after it launches at 7 a.m., there’s no updating right up until the upcoming day. Dropping community radio is a decline of immediacy, of remaining recent, and that indefinable issue called id.

“I consider you drop a sense of neighborhood,” he stated.

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Kingston didn’t reply to requests for an interview, but here’s my outsider’s evaluation of what occurred to RNR. When the New Jersey resident assumed a purpose as an active operator, he commenced to tinker with the format. It moved absent from its standing as one particular of the nation’s premier adult album different stations.

Persons like me listening for new songs went in other places, and a ton of us followed the on-air expertise. Early morning host Alex Cortright still left for TMD in 2015, followed a few several years later on by midday host Carrie Evans and previous calendar year by Timm. Evans is now the system director.

It was not just the new music, it was the business. The radio viewers, at the very least in Annapolis, bought aged. Music is about youth, but not in this article. Then COVID dried up gatherings, and marketing vanished throughout the pandemic shutdown. When the Peter and John Radio Fellowship came knocking, Kingston marketed for $1.54 million.

He wasn’t the only 1 to decide it was time to get out of radio. Towson University shopped WTMD for a long time and was reportedly fielding inquiries from a Christian broadcast outfit right before it offered the station to WYPR for $3 million very last yr. (Complete disclosure, WYPR partners on written content with The Baltimore Banner).

The decline of an Annapolis outlet, although, does not indicate that individuals who have a thing to say just cannot come across a way to share it.

Annapolis musician Ruben Dobbs begun a Saturday night time new music clearly show past month, “The Swamp Candy Radio Hour” on WSDL, aspect of Delmarva Community Radio. It is the form of psychological musical work out that after may have uncovered a house on a funky radio station in Annapolis.

“I’m making an attempt to develop a themed episode for every episode, like connecting the dots tying musicians that the regular person does not know,” Dobbs stated.

If you cannot constantly hear it reside at 8 p.m. on Saturdays because Salisbury is a weak sign in Annapolis, you can stream it are living or hear to it as a podcast. Dobbs considers it a continuation of the legacy of Jonathan Gilbert, the longtime radio host much better known as “Weasel.”

Gilbert and WTMD parted techniques last year, ending “Weasel’s Wild Weekend” — a journey via songs by using an encyclopedic brain that could be each intriguing and irritating at virtually the similar second. Dobbs’ prepare to connect the dots is comparable. Saturday, he’ll target on the peculiar journey of B-facet music from those people traditional 45s.

“Maybe it will be a strike, or it will be a funny song that you want to get out there, but there’s normally an sudden destiny for a B-song,” he mentioned.

This identified a house in Salisbury because area radio has performed out otherwise there. WAMU, the D.C. public radio powerhouse, purchased WRAU in 1996 and used it to keep its viewers listening when they went to the seashore.

20-5 decades later on and WAMU sold it for about a 50 percent-million dollars to a Christian broadcasting business, stating it desired to focus on its D.C. metro viewers. Actually, however, why did it need to have WRAU when individuals stream plans rather than listen to a broadcast?

The sale gave Delmarva Public Radio — 3 stations with different formats — a opportunity to claw again the viewers it had dropped to WAMU. Former WAMU “Coastal Connections” reporter Bryan Russo is now output and operations director at Delmarva.

“We get to have a few of the NPR formats in radio stations — all the while we’re focusing on constructing up our own homegrown courses, irrespective of whether news systems or public affairs or new music systems like Ruben’s [Dobbs],” Russo stated. “We have that commitment to neighborhood and not just a general public radio station which is shopping for content from the community.”

Why just cannot Annapolis have some thing like this? Just mainly because anything is useless now, is it attainable for it to be alive once again tomorrow?

At Maryland Corridor, Scott Shaffer thinks it can — within boundaries.

The Annapolis arts center lately bought Crab Radio from Anne Arundel County Public Schools. It is a very low-power station that the faculty program meant to use as a teaching device for pupils. But they learned more than about a decade that it is challenging to continue to keep a thing like that going. COVID was the end.

Maryland Corridor is however in the course of action of creating its digital media lab and recording studio and will start on April 2 with a are living broadcast from the organization’s annual open residence on Maryland Day, ArtFest. Funding is coming from grants and the existing spending plan, which will involve selecting some staff members associates.

“We’re heading to be the only Annapolis radio station still left. As you know, there’s a extended background of radio in Annapolis and we’re truly hoping to include that in our programming,” explained Shaffer, Maryland Corridor chief economic officer.

The strategy is to make Crab Radio 104.7 a community-pushed radio station, with a target on community audio, programming from resident arts corporations at Maryland Hall, news and converse. It could possibly integrate community podcasters.

Will this replace what Annapolis has shed? No. You will not be equipped to hear Crab Radio pretty much exterior the town restrictions, and Annapolis is a lot more than just the town alone.

It does, on the other hand, supply hope.

Kingston has been documented as saying he may possibly obtain ways to provide WRNR back again, and songs was continue to playing Monday on the web page. Last calendar year, regional broadcaster Maryland Media A person obtained an possession stake in WNAV. Some of its other stations supply area voices.

Probably neighborhood programming isn’t so dead right after all. Perhaps we’ll be saved from getting to depend on ever-newer approaches to pay attention to the seem of Annapolis.

“I in no way know what the heck streaming provider the application I want is on,” Timm said. “I can never ever come across it. Whilst with regular radio providers, I strike button No. 1 and it’s there. It’s likely to be challenging to replicate that experience.”

An before model of this column provided incorrect information on the purchaser of WRAU.