NHPR Celebrates Milestone 40th Anniversary
New Hampshire Public Radio is celebrating four decades of service to the community and looking ahead to new endeavors. Wednesday, August 4, marked the 40th anniversary of the station’s inaugural on-air broadcast, when the service first launched as WEVO (Granite State Public Radio). Then, as now, NHPR remains the only source for NPR programming and news in New Hampshire.
The roots of bringing public radio to New Hampshire began in the late 70s, when The New Hampshire Radio Research Project, led by groups at Keene State College and the University of New Hampshire, initiated studies on the feasibility of building a listener-supported, independent public radio station to serve the state. Later, fifty New Hampshire citizens formed a steering committee to create the station, with Granite State Public Radio (GSPR) being incorporated in 1979. A year later, GSPR received $61,000 in planning grants, a general manager was hired, and an application for a station was filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As the station went live in August 1981 via its one station in Concord, the first year overall budget for the station stood at $182,601 and the station boasted a first year membership base of 500 supportive NH residents.
Forty years later, NHPR’s signal can be heard in almost every corner of the state, from the far north of our border with Canada, all the way south through the White Mountains, the Lakes, Upper Valley and Capitol regions, and on to the Seacoast and Monadnock regions, as well as some neighboring states. Technological innovations allow us to reach listeners and audience members beyond our original radio-only service. NHPR is now a robust multi-media organization available in podcast and streaming formats, with digital journalism and engagement a key part of our program offerings. Staff and operating budgets have grown over the years, fueled by active community investment, and our membership base now stands at more than 24,000 supporters.
Through our news and programming, the station has had the privilege of serving the people of New Hampshire through some of the most seminal stories of the past 40 years, including:
· The Challenger space shuttle explosion and the death of local teacher Christa McAuliffe.
· New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary, and the regular ritual of having presidential candidates meet with citizens across our state in the lead-up to national elections.
· National events like the Gulf War, 9/11, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now – the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
· Educational funding, energy and environmental concerns, social justice and other important state policy debates.
On these topics and many others, NHPR’s original journalism has been complemented by perspectives and interviews with community activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders of the nonprofits, arts and cultural institutions that contribute so much to the richness of life in the Granite State.
“New Hampshire’s population has grown by half since WEVO first went on the air, and we’ve become substantially more diverse,” said Jim Schachter, President & CEO of NHPR. “Technology today binds New Hampshire more tightly to the rest of the country, and gives us more ways to connect people across the state - and to reach beyond our borders. But for all the change, what has remained steady is the station’s commitment to building connections. Our job now, as it was when our founders came together to bring public radio to New Hampshire, is to enlarge the circle of people who care about the communities we serve. We do that through courageous, independent journalism; by engaging with our neighbors on every media platform imaginable and by giving voice to people and stories that wouldn’t otherwise be heard or told.”
Since 1991, the station has been broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2009, NHPR moved into its current quarters at 2 Pillsbury Street in Concord. Through the generous support of listeners, foundation and corporations from across the state, the station successfully raised $6.5 million to build a production and broadcast center, using the highest technical standards. In 2015, another significant effort – The Campaign for Innovation – accelerated NHPR’s investment in news, information, arts and culture, and environmental reporting and programming. Donors invested more than $5 million in these initiatives, making possible expanded coverage of issues important to our state, as well as the creation of innovative content such as podcasts, digital and multi-platform resources. Since that investment, NHPR journalists have won a host of awards locally and nationally, including three prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Awards for overall excellence in small market radio (2015, 2017 and 2018).
As an NPR-member station, NHPR is the state’s only source for the high-caliber national and international reporting characterized by NPR. In addition, every day NHPR brings listeners access to news and stories from other leading public media organizations including American Public Media (APM), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and WNYC. Despite these windows to the nation and the world, coverage remains rooted in local journalism. The NHPR newsroom has expanded over the years to include more than 30 content makers – from daily beat reporters, to podcast producers, to hosts and digital editors. The Exchange and its host Laura Knoy enjoyed a 25-year run of weekday conversations, conducting in-depth explorations of key issues and topics of interest. New podcast products were developed to serve community needs, including narrative storytelling spanning civics education (Civics 101), the natural world (Outside/In), true crime (Bear Brook), and politics (Stranglehold). Newer services include a focus on Spanish language journalism, initiated during the pandemic to specifically meet the needs of the growing Latino community in New Hampshire. Increasingly, NHPR is also becoming a primary source of digital news, through a growing catalog of newsletters and 24/7 publishing at NHPR.org.
For more information on NHPR’s 40th anniversary, visit here for updates and related events.
And take a listen to an audio postcard, featuring memories from former NHPR CEO and President Mark Handley and former host of The Exchange, Laura Knoy.
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Since 1981, New Hampshire Public Radio has shaped the media landscape in the Granite State and beyond. Our mission is “Expanding minds, sparking connections, building stronger communities.” NHPR is broadcast from 14 different sites, making it by far New Hampshire’s largest (and only) statewide radio news service. Every week, NHPR is the choice of 152,000 listeners as a primary source of in-depth and intelligent news coverage and enlightening programming. Thousands more view NHPR.org, follow our social media sites, stream our service online, or listen to our podcasts. Each day, New Hampshire Public Radio delivers several hours of local news reported by its award-winning news team. Locally produced programs and podcasts include The Folk Show, Outside/In, and Civics 101, among others. NHPR is the exclusive outlet for NPR News in the Granite State and broadcasts national weekly programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and This American Life. Visit nhpr.org to access our news and information