Thirty years. Today, May 1, 2010, is the 30th anniversary of my first day at NCPR.

A lot of things are different, a few important things are the same.

In the different department:

Virtually every program we air, except for All Things Considered;  the reach of our signal, which only made it to (most) of St. Lawrence County, and now serves about 1/3 of NYS, much of northwestern Vermont, and a nice slice of southeastern Ontario; the transmission network we use, in 1980 a single 3,500 Watt transmitter, today, a network of 30+ repeaters and a 40,000 Watt primary transmitter; the length of the broadcast day–we never sign off now, but we said “good night” and “good morning” every day in 1980, when we were on air for only 19 hours daily. We had no computers; every story was recorded on tape and edited with a razor blade; and, every piece of music we played was on vinyl–no cds. The biggest difference: public awareness of the station. During my first few years here, I’d be the speaker at Masons’ luncheons, Elks’ breakfasts, church gatherings and an assortment of other public gatherings–inevitably, when I asked people to raise their hands if they listened to NCPR (actually, WSLU back then), only a few hands would go up. Most people didn’t know what public radio was, so I’d say, “well, it’s like public tv only on the radio.”

In the same department:

The people who work at NCPR– including Martha, Jackie and Bob (who started at the station about six months after I did)–and all of us, whether recently hired or old-timers like me, sharing a commitment to make the best public media service, to excel at all we do on air, online, or on any other platform. This attitude, this heart, runs through the 30 years I’ve been at the station.

The people who listen to NCPR or visit ncpr.org–some of you have actually been with us as listeners and supporters for as long as I’ve been working here–some of you even longer. Whether you’ve been a part of the NCPR community for a year or 40 years, having you in our corner caring about the work we do is the other unbroken thread that has made it possible to grow and change in ways that have made us what we are today.

St. Lawrence University–our broadcast license-holder. This remarkable institution has provided support in kind and in cash but has always maintained a hands-off policy so that we could do the work of a public radio station–serving the general public–without inappropriate interference.

Thirty years from now? I can’t even imagine the changes coming, but I think the people who make NCPR now and in the future, on the air or in the audience, writing blogs or reading them, will be the same–determined to do and be the best possible, for themselves and the world around them.

Thanks for the first 30.

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4 Comments on “30”

  1. Jackie Sauter says:

    Happy Anniversary, Ellen! How fortunate we all are to have you leading the way!

  2. Hank Hofmann says:

    What great memories! Happy 30th anniversary, Ellen.

  3. Mary H says:

    Happy Anniversary, Ellen. I think you’ve got one of the best public radio stations in the country! Here’s to your next thirty.

  4. Mark Bergman says:

    Happy Anniversary Ellen! 30 years anyplace is quite an achievement. You and the entire staff make it fun to be a listener and a supporter. NCPR has achieved something quite extraordinary. I’ve listened to a lot of different public radio stations. I’ve volunteered at others, but I’ve yet to find another station that is such an integral part of listener’s lives. So many of your on-air talents are like extended family to many of us. I can refer to you guys by first name and friends (most of whom have never met you) will know who I’m referring to. Keep up the great work and keep having fun with it!

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