Very Public Radio

By Emily Johnson

Seeing as we were at a public radio conference in Chicago, it was only fitting to check out the bastion of public radio in that fair city. The Third Coast Festival was actually founded as part of Chicago Public Radio – which broadcasts as WBEZ-FM in the city – back in 2000 before it split off to bec0me a non-profit last year.

WBEZ is located on scenic Navy Pier, just past the Ferris wheel and across from the Billy Goat Tavern, another Windy City institution made famous by the SNL skit with Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and John Belushi.

WBEZ intern Lars Weborg graciously welcomed us Friday afternoon for a tour. He works on Eight Forty-Eight, the local news magazine show which many people mistakenly believe refers to the time the show airs. In point of fact, the show starts at nine and the name refers to the station’s street address on Navy Pier. “They think we start twelve minutes late every time,” he said.

WBEZ’s 2008 Emmy award (“Outstanding Nonfiction Series”) for This American Life:

Where the magic happens:

The newsroom:

Approaching the headquarters of Vocalo:

Vocalo is a program that began in 2007 under the umbrella of Chicago Public Radio in an attempt to reach a more diverse audience than that of NPR. “Make the radio you want to hear,” says the Facebook page.

Since we at the entrepreneurially-minded CUNY Graduate School of Journalism love a good community-based, innovative journalistic endeavor, we were excited to learn about a public radio program that truly incorporates the public. It relies largely on user-generated content: music, stories, questions. As of last year, it reported more than 5,000 contributors.

Vocalo DJ’s Sarah and Luis, about to go on air:

Listen to Lars talk about Vocalo:


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