From the Backstage: Connect for Visibility

To those passing through or residing here superficially, Baton Rouge may not look like much, but for those of us who know her, there’s a lot to love and appreciate. Yet whereas in other more celebrated cities, the gems are viewed as par for the course, in our town they’re often seen as hidden and unexpected, if they’re seen at all.

I’ve been involved with WHYR since its inception, and I’ll confess: in the beginning, I didn’t know or care about community radio. I was a BRPN Board member when we received the license and started building the station, so I hopped along for the ride and put in tons of time and effort for a cause I intuitively supported but didn’t quite understand yet. The longer WHYR is on the air, though, the more I recognize how it augments what I already knew I loved about Baton Rouge while simultaneously expanding and deepening my understanding of this city and its inhabitants.

Being introduced to Irma Thomas’ “It’s Raining” on “Down the Road,” played as an intentional homage to the day’s weather on a rainy Sunday. Tuning into blues, jazz, and Cajun/zydeco specialty shows that consistently enrich my sense of place in the world. Hearing an hour of New Orleans brass band songs on a Sunday afternoon while chopping celery and enjoying 70-plus degree breezes through the back screen door. Hearing a Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist for the first time on “The Low Down” while on my way to dance practice. Being inspired by Noel Jackson’s infectious excitement for the music he plays for his listeners. Shazamming songs from local bands. Being granted access to the origin stories, knowledge and creations of everyone from spoken word poets to activists to urban planners who work and reside in BR. Hearing PSAs for local progressive organizations and the voices of my friends, family, and fellow community members on the air. Learning about topics like racial justice, rape culture, and economic justice, and how to get involved in local efforts for positive change in these areas.

When I’m in the thick of meetings and to-do lists, I can lose my spark for the volunteer work that it takes to make WHYR possible. Then I tune in and something inspiring or illuminating will jump out from the airwaves to make me think: I like this, it is important, and I’m glad to be a part of it. The product of our hard work and the genuine connections that come from it have made it all worthwhile.

Once, in a conversation with one of our show hosts, I referred to him as an expert of his preferred genre of music. He humbly corrected me: “I’m an enthusiast.” It occurs to me, then, that my favorite thing about WHYR is that it’s becoming exactly what we set out for it to be: our progressive network’s node for enthusiasts—of art, poetry, music, culture, concepts, activism, connection, and social change. Put it all together and it’s a beautiful thing, and maybe we had to actually make it happen to realize what we’d been missing all along, and what we’d be missing if we lost it.

Our work is just beginning, so for the month of March we are making it our goal to sign up 100 sustaining members who are willing to support our work on an ongoing basis through monthly recurring donations. It is a critical goal as our operating reserves are low. If 100 people gave $25 per month, we would be able to focus more of our efforts on developing our programming and services rather than worrying as much about our minimal operating budget. Can you give $25 a month towards sustaining WHYR and keeping us on the airwaves of Baton Rouge?

There’s something exciting and intoxicating about unexpected gems. Yet to truly power up, reach new levels, and make change, we have to make it our responsibility to turn Baton Rouge’s unexpected gems into visible, audible, integral, and undeniable components of the rhythm of our city. Your sustaining membership is an important part of helping us get there.

With our very existence, we are helping to turn the unexpected into the expected, challenging tired and stale notions of Baton Rouge and its residents with renewed energy and purpose. It is by banding together that we’ve begun to connect and amplify our progressive community, and as long as we have your support, we will continue to do the work to not only give the feeling that our voices matter and have a place here, but to make that an undeniable reality in which the alternative would be unimaginable.

Will you help us achieve this goal? Visit whyr.org/support/recurring to become a sustaining member today. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re in it for the long haul as long as you’re with us.

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Strengthening the network of progressives in BR is our cause. Our mission is to educate and unite our communities to advocate and establish progressive policy and social action.

Have questions for us? Visit our WHYR website, BRPN website, or email info@whyr.org.

Interested in joining our development and fundraising team? Learn more on our website and email us at volunteer@whyr.org.

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