There was a time when people all over the Delmarva Peninsula tuned into their local radio station for hometown news and information. That was back in decades after World War II, and these small town broadcasters with a full staff of on air disc jockeys, a news person, sales representative, and office staff, brought music, news, sports, public service announcements, weather and much more to their markets. Sitting in front of a microphone in the studios, disc jockeys and radio journalists played the hits, talked to the community, took calls from listeners, broadcast school sports and had the weather. Of course those were the days before clear channel and the corporitization of radio, which was supposed to bring us plenty of high quality programming.
Those independent or small chain systems managed to pay a staff of five or six people, keep the electricity on, pay the staff, and add something to the community and make a little profit for the owners. But somehow as the markets, the business model, and regulations changed, the unique programming on the local outlets slowly disappeared from the dial. Now in the 21st century it is hard to find anything but syndicated talk shows, which replaced hometown chat, music, and joking around with the audience.
These days if you dial across the AM radio dial, you still hear lots of signals, but in most instances no one is home. The stations take automated satellite feeds and there is lots of duplication. Of course there are some exceptions such as in Wilmington, which still has a strong broadcast outlet providing original programming of regional interest.
And in some of the smaller towns, there are a few outlets that still bring community oriented programming to listeners, which is what caused me to write this post this evening. I was down in Chestertown and decided to check out the A.M. dial. There on 1530 AM was Kent County’s hometown station, WCTR and I listened to a number of local programs originating in the studios on Signal Hill out on Flat Land Road. The shows were informative and well done as the hosts talked about local matters and interviewed people from the community. It was good to hear a station serving its market with original programming of interest to the community, rather than just some more commodity like noise on the crowded dial.
WCTR has been part of the local community for half-a-century, going on the air on June 16, 1963, according to the Kent County News.