WCRS radio offers global outlet with local focus
Local radio station WCRS FM is providing an outlet to broadcasters with diverse interests who might not otherwise have an opportunity to be heard.
WCRS began streaming online at Wcrs.org in January and also broadcasts at 98.3 and 102.1 FM. WCRS is a noncommercial, listener-supported station with an emphasis on community-oriented programming.
"One plank of our mission statement is to represent underrepresented constituents," said Pat Leonard, an Upper Arlington resident who hosts a music show called "Pat Radio" that features the music of central Ohio artists.
WCRS is an affiliate of Simply Living, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally friendly initiatives and community programs, including the Clintonville Community Market.
WCRS features programming for central Ohio's Somali and French-speaking populations and includes contributions from UAHS students who are looking to gain broadcasting experience. The station's chief engineer, Eugene Beer, is a 1969 UAHS graduate.
Leonard joined WCRS in December 2007 after operating his own Internet radio station for two years. When he found out through word of mouth that WCRS was looking for local programming, Leonard realized the station would be an ideal outlet to give exposure to talented local musicians.
The playlist on "Pat Radio" reflects Leonard's eclectic musical tastes.
"It's rock, pop, folk, electronic noise," Leonard said, "anything that I like, locally done."
A passion for music is the common bond between Leonard and fellow WCRS broadcasters Tim Anstaett and Roland Pagniano, who all have roots in Upper Arlington.
Pagniano, a 1985 UAHS alumnus who now lives in Dublin, hosts a show called "World Party," which has been described as "world beat with an attitude."
"It's world-beat music with music from all over the world, different countries -- Colombia, France, the Middle East and so on -- all mixed into a one-hour show," Pagniano said. "I try to get things to match up and blend. It's dance music, party-type dance music, high energy, typical of the region where the artist is from."
Pagniano is a dentist by trade but has an extensive background in radio. While attending Ohio State University from 1986 to 1989, Pagniano was a producer and disc jockey for WOSR, OSU's student-operated station. From 1990 to 1991, he was a part-time announcer and DJ for WWHT 105.7 FM in Columbus.
While attending dental school at OSU from 1992 to 1997, Pagniano was a weekend announcer and disc jockey for Sunny 95 (WSNY 95.5 FM). He occasionally produced the Saturday morning show "The Best of Dino and Stacy" and announced for the weekend version of "Love Songs and Nothing but Love Songs."
Hosting "The World Party" on WCRS enables Pagniano to share his interest in international music with listeners all over the world. "The World Party" boasts regular listeners in many parts of the world, especially Europe and South America, he said.
"I do mix in a little bit from the United States every once in a while on the show," he said. "I try to keep it eclectic and upbeat."
Anstaett's show, "Yesterday's Top Secrets," features little-known musical gems from the past few decades.
"It's music from the '60s and later music that was inspired by the fun and the freedom of the '60s," Anstaett said. "What I say on the show in my introduction is it's oldies that aren't old because they haven't been played to death on all the other stations."
A lifelong music fan and 1973 alumnus of Upper Arlington High School, Anstaett published the alternative music 'zine "The Offense" before venturing into radio. He enjoys providing a forum for music that isn't often heard on commercial radio.
"It's not the best-known music of the '60s, '70s and '80s," he said, "but rather some of the best."