SALISBURY, MD---For more than three decades, Salisbury University’s Delmarva Public Radio and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s WESM 91.3 FM have been allies in public broadcasting on the peninsula.
On Wednesday, July 1, they strengthen that bond with a new partnership to create Delmarva Public Media. The new organization will allow all three stations — including Delmarva Public Radio’s WSCL 89.5 FM and WSDL 90.7 FM — to share resources in an increasingly competitive market.
“This is a collaboration that we have been working on for over a year,” said Dr. Karen Olmstead, SU provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. “We are very excited to deepen the connection between SU and UMES through this important public service.”
“Since 1987, WESM and Delmarva Public Radio have brought public radio to listeners throughout portions of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia,” said Gerry Weston, who will serve as general manager of the three-station partnership. “From the beginning, we have shared similar missions of enhancing the area’s cultural offerings and creating a more informed population.
“This partnership makes sense not only from an operational standpoint, but because it will widen the listener base for the locally produced programming in addition to the national shows we will continue to carry.”
Behind the scenes, operations will remain much the same. Staffing will not be affected, and each station will remain under the ownership of its respective university. WESM will gain the business operations, sales and development services that exist at Delmarva Public Radio. The stations already share engineering services.
On air, listeners will notice significant changes. WSCL will provide classical music 24 hours a day, expanding its decades-long cultural mission.
WESM will serve as the new partnership’s NPR affiliate, broadcasting favorites including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, along with its jazz and blues format.
WSDL also will feature WESM’s live-hosted shows, bringing jazz to the beach areas, along with the award-winning BBC News. Weekend programming largely will be unchanged, featuring folk music, and rhythm and blues in the evenings.
“As our audience has more choices for NPR programming, including satellite radio and regional competitors, it makes sense to dedicate more airtime on our stations to programming listeners can’t get anywhere else,” Weston said.
He anticipates the partnership to be a win-win opportunity for many constituents. An increased coverage area will allow listeners to tune in not only throughout Delmarva, but in portions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. With combined resources, supporters will know their contributions are going further, and corporate underwriters will receive a wider listenership.
The partnership also is expected to provide more ways for students at both universities, as well as community members, to collaborate with the stations as a whole while maintaining the longstanding legacy of each.
“With a combined 88 years of broadcasting history, this is a tremendous opportunity for each of the stations, as well as the people we serve,” Weston said. “We count on our listeners to put the ‘public’ in public radio.”