Using Radio For A Higher Purpose

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(By Eric Rhoads) In our busy lives it’s hard enough to keep up with employees, advertisers, promotions, dealing with budgets, and all the things that come with running a radio station. Yet, I found in my life as a broadcaster the most gratifying moments in all my years of station ownership were those moments when we leveraged our brand and our listeners to help others. Tony Robbins says “living is giving,” and my best memories in radio have to do with those giving moments.

I want to tell you a brief story of radio giving, which may lead you to some ideas for your station.

Did you know that there is an organization that builds specially adapted homes for our nation’s severely wounded soldiers? Hardly anyone knew, until WDAY 970 AM in Fargo, ND, started talking about it with a new show.

Heroes of the Heartland, hosted by Master Sgt. Eric Marts, is a proud supporter of the non-profit “Homes for our Troops.” This charity constructs these uniquely built homes, and provides these veterans with mortgage-free housing. Marts was wounded by a IED in Iraq, suffering a brain injury, total blindness, and damage to his arms, neck, and back. He started his WDAY radio show five years ago, following his discharge from the U.S. Army.

On his show, Marts discusses veterans’ issues, the military and military families, but the show also fuels awareness and donations, which helps more veterans.

While local TV stations could only devote a short news segment to the subject, or a PSA about “Homes for our Troops,” it is radio that has devoted a weekly show to raise issues that may greatly impact radio listeners in Fargo and Moorhead, Minnsota, where Marts resides.

Marts’ show airs Saturday mornings on Forum Communications’ WDAY, which has resulted in raising awareness of veterans’ issues, creating a popular program that gets the community’s attention and simultaneously helps fuel donations to this worthy charity.

This, my friends, is radio at its best.  The station’s airtime could easily have been brokered to a financial advisor, or a health and diet supplement vendor. Instead, WDAY took a step back and gave the community something unique, and valuable, which serves a higher purpose. Though financial success is critical, there is no way you can buy this kind of community goodwill.

What if your station could do the same in your market? Could you create a show and use the show as leverage to build homes for vets in your town? Or, could your station take on some other major issue in your community as your annual project, with a goal of changing lives? You would not only be driving attention to your station, but you would be taking on a major issue that helps people in your community.

What if we could get a single station in every market in America to take this particular issue on? Radio could play a major role in helping veterans in every community. Therefore, I’d like to urge you to consider taking this effort on in your community and adopt it. If this isn’t your cup of tea, what could you do that you would get excited about?

I’d like to salute Master Sgt. Eric Marts and WDAY’s owner and employees for their commitment to the community. WDAY took a step back and gave the community something unique and valuable.

This is what makes radio unique and valuable. These are the meaningful moments you’ll look back on knowing that you used your station for its highest and best purpose.

Marts recently reached out to Radio Ink to help spread the word about “Homes for our Troops,” so your station may consider a PSA devoted to the charity. Or, a Sunday morning public service broadcast could include an interview with a charity representative. To learn more, please visit the “Homes for our Troops” download center.

For further inquiries, please contact MSG Marts, U.S. Army Ret., at [email protected]

With efforts like this, radio has a little less fear of being forced to disappear, as it is the perfect link to what is near.

Eric Rhoads is Chairman of Radio Ink magazine and can be reached at [email protected]

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Eric Rhoads
Eric Rhoads is Chairman of Radio Ink magazine and can be reached at [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. Hello Eric,

    Myself and 4 other veterans here in Las Vegas have been meeting to organize a veterans alliance in support of Vet’s. including those from early release to those who are nearing the end of their journey.

    The VA and HUD have just identified Las Vegas as being ‘Homeless Free’ for vet’s. We know that they are good intentioned, but there are still vet’s living without housing and assistance, which could elevate them into an employable and stable lifestyle with permanent housing.

    We have identified a short term (up to 2 years) housing project which can accommodate many of the services the under served veterans need.

    It all gets down to finding money for the purchase of this property and organization of the services, and letting the community know that these services are available for Veterans and their spouses.

    I think a radio program on Saturday morning would go a long way to making our alliance program function and properly support these vet’s who have been ‘left out in the cold’.

    How do I find out which radio station to approach, and what should we expect to pay for this 1/2 hour program?

    Thank you,

    Bruce K. Langson

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