WRCT program expanding to West Virginia station

Jan 31, 2005

by Geetika Bhandari
Junior Staffwriter

Starting this semester, one of WRCT?s political programs, ?Rustbelt Radio?, will be changing its schedule from biweekly to weekly. Originally a biweekly program, this grassroots community-based show will air live every Monday from 6 to 7 pm. Rustbelt Radio will also be broadcast on WVJW-Benwood 94.1 FM, a radio station in Wheeling, West Virginia, with coverage spanning beyond Shadyside, Ohio, every Saturday from 5 to 6 pm.
?We?re expanding ... because we?ve got an opportunity to collaborate with another independent community radio station there and try to broaden our scope to cover the surrounding area of Pittsburgh,? stated Matt Toups, a senior computer science and history major who hosts the program. He is also the public affairs director for WRCT.
The show features four rotating hosts ? Toups, Andalusia Knoll, Quinten Steenhuis, and Gwen Schmidt ? and is open to participation from volunteers as it is collaboratively produced with the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center. In describing the essence of the show, Steenhuis stated, ?We record events that are interesting and get them on the radio as quickly as possible.? According to the press release from WRCT 88.3 FM, Rustbelt Radio addresses international, national, and local issues.
?Some people at WRCT have called Rustbelt a ?news magazine? to set it apart from other talk-oriented public affairs shows,? said Toups. ?This is one point we feel strongly about; we aren?t just another political talk show.?
WRCT general manager and senior mathematical sciences major David Messinger said that the station initially approved Rustbelt Radio because ?they presented the PA [public affairs] director with a solid concept for a show. In general, we try to provide resources and information that cannot be heard elsewhere in Pittsburgh. Most of our PA shows are dedicated to raising local awareness of national issues not being covered by the big news organizations with political ties and concerns.? This is possible at WRCT because the station gives its individual DJs autonomy in making the radio station?s programming decisions.
The Pacifica Radio Foundation, which is the fastest-growing network of independent radio stations in the nation, includes both WRCT and WVJW. It was through the Pacifica network that WVJW was first introduced to the Rustbelt Radio show.
WVJW 94.1, The Voice of Dissent, schedules a variety of programs during its weekend airtime, such as ?Guns?+?Butter? and ?Cultural Baggage,? as well as music programs for a majority of its airtime during the week.
The first show on Rustbelt?s new schedule covered topics including diesel-powered vehicles running on vegetable oil, George W. Bush?s second inauguration, and news from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
About the program?s longterm goals, Steenhuis stated that maintaining focus on issues that directly relate to community groups is a definite priority. In an effort to continue expanding the program?s audience, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center hopes to eventually broadcast the show on satellite. Rustbelt Radio is also working in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon?s students for Independent Media to create an accompanying television show. The show will be aired on Pittsburgh Community Television (channel 21).