Help save DPR before it is too late

November 29, 2012

Sussex County is about to lose one of its most valuable cultural assets. Not a group or facility located in the county, but one that blankets Sussex with arts and cultural programming plus news and information.

For the second time in recent years, Salisbury University is attempting to close down its two public FM radio stations: WSCL (classical music) and WSDL (news and information), also known by their trademark, Delmarva Public Radio (DPR).

The last time SU put the stations up for sale, listeners, members, donors and underwriters (many from Sussex) rose up in wrath. SU backed down.

This time, the termination is being done with stealth. DPR has not had an experienced general manager for almost two years. Other staff, pressed into multiple duties, is shrinking by attrition. SU plans to knock down the radio station building next year and says it can't find 3,500 square feet of replacement space anywhere on that huge and growing campus. While offering no audited figures, SU claims it can no longer afford DPR and threatens defunding in mid-2013.

As a way to temporarily keep DPR's valuable radio frequencies until they can be auctioned to the highest, non-public radio bidders, SU proposes to change the stations' formats to canned, satellite-provided elevator music: classical lite on WSCL and adult album music on WSDL. Local programming, along with many favorite national programs, will disappear. Delmarva listener interest and financial support will weaken and the frequencies will be sold.

As a former member of Delmarva Public Radio's community advisory board, I urge all of Sussex County's DPR fans to let Salisbury University know how you feel about this sellout.

Voices from Sussex helped save DPR once before. I'm sure we can do it again.

Richard S. Contee
Rehoboth Beach

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