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On the Air: WGDR, Plainfield Celebrates 50 Years

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Central Vermont Community Radio WGDR/WGDH’s community programmers, March 2024. Photo courtesy of CVCR.
Radio station WGDR, Plainfield has broadcast at 91.1 FM since the late spring of 1973 across the hills and hollows of central Vermont. To celebrate its 50 years on the air, Central Vermont Community Radio (CVCR) will host a birthday weekend of live, local programming, May 17–19 on 91.1 FM and 91.7 FM, WGDH, Hardwick, (the second station of CVCR). Folks from farther afield can listen at WGDR.org or can listen later via the archives. 

Programming will feature interviews with past programmers and station managers, live musical and DJ performances, and other surprises. The weekend will also include a “gift to WGDR” challenge to listeners to raise $2,500. Each dollar raised will be matched by a combination of the CVCR board and sponsors of the weekend celebration.

Saturday, May 18, CVCR invites the entire listening community to come to the station for a “Party at the Pratt,” from 3 to 5 p.m. There will be live bluegrass music, tours of the station, food, and a chance to meet the nearly 75 programmers and other station volunteers who are part of WGDR/WGDH today. The WGDR studio is located on the Goddard Campus at the Pratt Library. Directions are available at WGDR.org.

Over the last five decades, the station has been a critical way for Vermonters to use the airwaves to share their views, talents, and engage in civil discourse. Hundreds of local folks have hosted shows, including highly curated music shows, call-in shows about gardening, interviews with local leaders and organizers on the matters of the day, and the everyday needs of the community, from missing dog alerts to mutual aid information.

The station is also a key source of alternative news and national programming that can’t be heard anywhere else on the dial. This includes being the first to broadcast “Democracy Now” in the state and a continued commitment to airing public affairs analysis that digs into issues of climate change, food systems and security, organizing for social justice and just change, and more. 

Erica Heilman, producer of the podcast “Rumble Strip” and member of the CVCR Programming Committee remarked: “Community radio is what the local community sounds like. The local stories, the good, the bad, and the oddities of our collective experience as a community, the obscure musical tastes. It all comes together as a truly unique listening experience that delights and surprises you every time you tune in. What is happening on WGDR and WGDH right now is some of the best radio you will hear anywhere.”

The station was built and operated by Goddard College for nearly 50 years, first as a college station, and then in the 2000s as a community station focused on an educational mission. In late 2020, Goddard initiated the gift of the station to the local community via the new nonprofit, CVCR. It was approved in May of 2021. A gift of a station is very rare, and CVCR is forever grateful to Goddard for its generosity and foresight to ensure the future of the station.

 “We’ve worked very hard over the last three years to not just keep the station on the air, but also to try new things with programming and involve more of the community in all we do, especially as we grow our capacity as an organization,” said CVCR board chair, Mark Michaelis. “This is a new era for the station, you can feel the positive energy on the air and amongst the many volunteers who are working as a team to make WGDR and WGDH integral parts of the larger community.” 

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