Dana E. Whitehair, a seasoned broadcasting professional with extensive experience in radio production and a strong background in classical music, has been appointed the new general manager for Delmarva Public Radio.
Whitehair’s career in public radio has spanned three decades. He has worked at well-regarded stations in the East including WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., whose 91.5 station has a classical music format, and WSCI in Charleston, S.C., which features both classical music and news/talk. At Rochester he worked with such distinguished artists as David Zinman, Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern. While in Charleston he also worked with the famed Spoleto Festival USA and its founder, Gian Carlo Menotti, as well as artists as varied as violinist Joshua Bell, the Westminster Choir, Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby McFerrin.
Much of his career has been at the University of Texas at Austin’s KUT, where he assumed increasing responsibilities during his 17 years there. His work included KUT’s famed Studio IA with live recordings of international, national and local artists from the Estonian Women’s Choir to Willie Nelson. He served on the board of directors of the Austin Chamber Music Center and was a producer for the UT Butler School of Music’s distinguished Jessen Series of faculty performances and Great Organ Series. He was instrumental in the launch of KUT’s award-winning news department.
His first position as general manager and director was at WNCW in western North Carolina, whose signal was heard in parts of five states. It includes Asheville, N.C., and its strong arts scene and areas of Charlotte, N.C.; Boone, N.C., home of Appalachian State University; and Greenville/Spartanburg, N.C. Associated with Isothermal Community College, WNCW has 85,000 listeners, more than twice that of DPR’s WSCL and WSDL. Whitehair describes the North Carolina station as one of the most independent in the National Public Radio network, with a diverse, sophisticated music program appealing to its varied listenership.
“We are pleased that a public radio veteran with a strong background in such areas as technology, classical music, education and community engagement will be leading Delmarva Public Radio,” said Dr. Diane Allen, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Salisbury University. “He provides experience and knowledge of the issues confronting radio nationally, as well as firsthand exposure to best practices at some of the country’s most highly regarded stations. This background will benefit DPR.”
In the coming months, the stations will move from their original home in Caruthers Hall, which is slated for demolition, to temporary facilities at the East Campus Complex. DPR’s out-of-date equipment will be replaced and a new tower will be built nearby. The licenses for the stations also will be transferred from the SU Foundation Inc. to the university, where DPR is expected to form closer ties with SU academic programs. In recent years, with a changing media market, DPR has been losing listeners and running deficits. In spite of these challenges, SU has reaffirmed its commitment to DPR for at least three more years and is looking to a change of leadership to make the stations sustainable.
“The university has made an enormous investment of confidence in DPR,” said Whitehair. “While other colleges are divesting themselves of their public radio stations, SU did not.” Public radio nationwide is experiencing challenges, he noted. “The connection between a public radio station and its community is crucial. I’m happy to be here. I love public radio. Delmarva is a unique area, and there are exciting possibilities. I see DPR fulfilling a need - and succeeding.”
Looking ahead, an immediate focus for Whitehair will be the transition to new facilities. “That will affect every single aspect of DPR,” he said. He also plans to work with stakeholders to find resources, and become connected to the community and the university. He wants to learn more about Delmarva. “It’s important to listen,” he said.
Whitehair is a graduate of Ohio University and its famed Scripps College of Communication. He worked with WOUB’s Radio Network, one of the first NPR affiliates and part of WOUB Public Media. The latter provides training for more than 200 students a year in all its departments.
For more information, call 410-543-6030 or go to www.salisbury.edu.