SALISBURY, Md.- It is an icon over the airways of Delmarva, going back some 25 years. But now the future of Delmarva Public Radio is looking shaky. With uncertain finances, and the need to find a new home, the radio station seems to be short on options. Now, keeping the station "on air" could mean a big shift from what listeners have grown used to.
A familiar voice sounds over the airways of a familiar station; housed in a familiar building on the campus of Salisbury University.
But the need to demolish Caruthers Hall, the station's home for the past quarter century, highlights the need for change. Change, to make way for a new campus library. Change, to salvage a struggling radio station.
"We're a non-profit wing of the Salisbury University Foundation, and like a lot of non-profits, sometimes our balance sheet doesn't, you know, we don't raise enough money and revenues, as good as they've been, sometimes lag a little bit behind," explained Delmarva Public Radio Interim General Manager Mike Dunn.
To help balance the budget, a consulting report suggests changing the NPR news/talk format, and switching the classical station so that programming would come from an outside source.
That is an idea that worries radio personality Paul Hull.
"I would like to see both of them continue, because they're both very popular," he noted. "You know, classical music programming is something you can't get anywhere else. You know, if this disappears, it's gone."
Long-time fan Walt Barcus specializes in computer work for radio stations, like Delmarva Public Radio. According to Barcus, moving locations will only add to the current struggles.
"Many of the services that they've counted on for 25 years from the university, they're about to lose," he said. "When the building comes down, if they have to go off campus, they have to pay for rental of the new facility. They'll have to pay for other services that they currently are given by the university."
WBOC asked Dunn what Delmarva Public Radio might look like another 25 years from now.
"I don't have any idea. I hope that it's still here," he said. "I hope that it's still local, I think that it has been an invaluable asset to the university and to the university Foundation and my hope is that it would continue to be that way."
A future of uncertainty, yet still filled with hope.
For the first time, the Salisbury University Foundation wants to give the public the chance to sound off on the issues facing Delmarva Public Radio.
A public meeting will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Wicomico Room of SU's Guerrieri University Center.
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