EOT 325 – Jacob Downey, Little Raleigh Radio

Elizabeth Esser sits down with Jacob Downey to discuss his nonprofit community radio station, Little Raleigh Radio. Then, Nadia Ramlagan brings you stories from the North Carolina News Service.

Elizabeth Esser sits down with Jacob Downey to discuss his nonprofit community radio station, Little Raleigh Radio. Then, Nadia Ramlagan brings you stories from the North Carolina News Service.

Provided by

Eoin Trainor  0:00  
The views and opinions expressed in Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or the student media.

Good evening Raleigh and welcome to this week’s Eye on the Triangle an NC State student run student produced news show on WKNC 88.1 FM HD 1 Raleigh, I’m Eoin Trainor. On tonight’s episode, Elizabeth Esser sits down with Jacob Downey, the director of Little Raleigh radio and then a little later, we’ll have some stories from North Carolina News Service enjoy.

Elizabeth Esser  1:08  
This is Elizabeth Esser, for Eye on the Triangle. I sat down with Jacob Downey WKNC, alum and co-founder of little Raleigh radio, a nonprofit community radio station in downtown Raleigh. We talk about Jacobs’s background in radio, his experience in establishing little Raleigh radio and what the future looks like for the station. Jacob Downey, thank you so much for joining us on Eye on the Triangle.

Jacob Downey  1:32  
Very, very excited to be back on Eye on the Triangle.

Elizabeth Esser  1:34  
To start us off. Would you mind telling listeners a little bit about your background in radio?

Jacob Downey  1:39  
Yeah, so my background in radio is WKNC. Oh, I mean, obviously, my initial background of radio was growing up listening to it, and kind of when the media consolidation act hit in the 90s it was like a sledgehammer to your gears just with how much radio became modernized. And when I moved to Raleigh, you know, I would listen to KMC. And there was a mood rally to go to school at NC State. And we’re very fortunate with the musical radio station diversity that we have here in the triangle. I feel like with some stations like WSHA, going the way we are losing some of that, but we’re pretty privileged. And we also have a lot of great record stores. And so I was and that’s where I would go to find out you know, KNC and record stores in the area like school kids. And at that time record exchange was one of the main places that I would go to for music discovery, nice price around those that kind of fills that void as well now with the record exchange being gone, and now the poorhouse especially with some of their board recordings, that they’re doing some fun stuff. But I was talking to one of the clerks at the record exchange. And he was a music director at WKNC. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I’ve always wanted to do radio for a little bit. And so he’s like, well, you need to come by and sign up. And y’all know what that whole process and kinda started doing radio at KMC, from 2002 to 2011. Mostly daytime rotation. from six to 8am, Monday through Thursday, Gonzo would do the vinyl revolution on Friday mornings, and then after I graduated. I stuck around WKNC for a little while. Doing weekend specialty programming and mentoring some students, just made a lot of great friends. And some of those friends kind of parlayed into like, Well, you know, how can we create the WK experience for other people that live in Raleigh or work in Raleigh, or somehow have a vital connection to the city where basically people could come in and learn how to curate audio that they care about to share with others? When you were at WKNC? What was your What was your DJ name? I was very boring. It was just Jacob. Nice. My name is not even just Jacob. Just Jacob.

Elizabeth Esser  4:08  
Nice. Super simple. Was there a point during your time at WKNC when you knew you wanted to continue working in radio in some capacity?

Jacob Downey  4:19  
No, but there’s definitely a point where I would like whenever I would consider jobs in different places. One of the things I would look at would be the the media landscape of those places. And definitely wanted to find a way to keep radio part of my life.

Elizabeth Esser  4:40  
Establishing a nonprofit community radio station, that’s no small feat. What drove you to founding Little Raleigh radio and what was that process like?

Jacob Downey  4:50  
Um, the biggest part of the process was, you know, how do we get to keep making radio and how do we create an outlet for other people to have that ongoing platform to begin learning to create radio content, a big part of that was influenced by Steven waltman, who wrote a thick tome, the FCC called the information needs of communities. And he really laid out the case for how much of a dessert there is for folks getting involved in media. And so that’s why we decided that that was the type of organization that we wanted to be kind of that that’s step one, for folks that want to pursue a broadcasting career or hobby. And we chose to be a nonprofit, because at the time, the local community radio act was getting momentum in Congress, and that was only open to community organizations. Mostly 501 C3 nonprofits and church groups. So that influenced a lot of our structure for how we created the organization.

Elizabeth Esser  5:59  
And so I understand that at one point, you had a goal of obtaining a low power FM license, but were unable to do so during the last filing window. Do you have plans to continue pursuing an lpfm license during the next filing window,

Jacob Downey  6:13  
we will definitely look into it there’ll be a question of fundraising and if there is property available, that will allow us to put a tower up where frequency is available until they make those filing window rules. The we really can’t look at spaces to know like we know what frequencies are available. But not every possible antenna site in Raleigh, would have access to those frequency spaces. So we would do an engineering study. When the rules from the new filing window get made to see if there’s something that exists from the 2 communities that we’ve identified that we want to serve, we’re pretty committed to being the immediate gateway for folks in downtown Raleigh and southeast Raleigh. So we probably would not be looking at them if there were only frequency sites available in like North Raleigh or Cary. There’s other folks in those communities that have great ideas. But we want, we’re very, we want to be very focused on the people that are coming to our studio that folks can hear them through those treasure awaits. So we’re anxiously looking forward to the new rules making process now that the FCC has finished their 5g movement. That’s been it’s been really slowing the next window down.

Elizabeth Esser  7:30  
So when you were creating little Raleigh radio, was there a particular reason why you wanted to have it located in the downtown area and the southeast Raleigh area,

Jacob Downey  7:43  
those two communities seem very physically connected, because there’s not the beltline divide that that was a big part of it. And we really felt like, especially southeast Raleigh is very underserved for media, creating opportunities. And then downtown Raleigh is where you, you know, especially at the time was the closest that you had to a strong Arts District in Raleigh. So that’s where a lot of your creative capital was already invested in. We wanted to make sure that we were a pipeline those people,

Elizabeth Esser  8:16  
what does the future look like a little Raleigh radio?

Jacob Downey  8:20  
Like a lot of nonprofits were rebuilding post pandemic, as folks at WKNC probably attest as well. It’s a very droplet heavy activity. So most of our producers, especially folks that are retired members of our communities, have kind of taken a break. So we’re looking forward to getting them back into the studio. And as soon as it’s safe to do so bringing new producers into our studio, because the big question that we wanted to solve was, you know, what does Raleigh sound like? And for us, it sounds like people that are passionate about something, whether it’s music, beer making, painting theater, passionate about to the point that, they want to find the best way to curate that and share with other people. So the immediate future for us, we’ll be doing very heavy producer onboarding and recruitment and training. 

Elizabeth Esser  9:11  
And finally, how can people tune in to little rally radio? 

Jacob Downey  9:14  
It’s really easy, which confuses a lot of folks, if you just go to our website and click on the mp3 link, it should automatically start playing in your browser or your smartphone. But if you like apps, we’re on most mobile listening apps, including tune in.

Elizabeth Esser  9:29  
Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Jacob. 

Jacob Downey  9:33  
Thanks for making radio. 

Elizabeth Esser  9:35  
More information on little rally radio can be found at www. reporting for Eye on the Triangle. This is Elizabeth Esser.

Nadia Ramlagan  9:50  
The Biden administration has its sights set on creating more jobs with an ambitious plan centered on clean energy and climate policy in North Carolina. environmental groups are urging leaders in Congress to pass an economic recovery plan that would bring those benefits to the state. Dan Crawford with the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters says the administration’s moves to rejoin the Paris Agreement and recent global summit on climate set the right tone

Dan Crawford  10:15  
that’s really refreshing to have that type of leadership in office   and it’s good to have that type of leadership in North Carolina as well with Governor Cooper who’s partnering with the Biden administration to push these crucial efforts forward.

Nadia Ramlagan  10:27  
Biden has outlined a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Dozens of North Carolina elected officials are among more than 1200 across the country to sign a letter asking Congress to seize a once in a generation opportunity North Carolina’s coast is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. And Crawford points out that weather forecasters are already predicting a turbulent 2021 hurricane season 

Dan Crawford  10:53  
We’ve had 2 500 year storms in three years. It’s time to start preparing for what’s happening with our climate. And this is a really big step that the by the administration is pushing forward. 

Nadia Ramlagan  11:05  
Crawford notes the state also faces serious infrastructure challenges in the coming decades. The American Society of Civil Engineers says around 9% of bridges in North Carolina are structurally deficient and Crawford adds the state’s drinking water needs are even greater

Dan Crawford  11:21  
North Carolina;s drinking water infrastructure will require almost a $17 billion dollar investment over the next 20 years. We need to start putting a down payment on that now.

Nadia Ramlagan  11:30  
Almost six in 10 voters say they support multitrillion dollar economic stimulus legislation that prioritizes investments in clean energy infrastructure according to polling from climate Nexus, the Yale program on climate change communication and the George Mason University Center for climate change communication for North Carolina News Service I’m Nadia Ramlagan. 

Restoring oysters can boost water quality and offer shoreline protection from storms and this week the North Carolina coastal Federation released its five year action plan outlining steps to keep this valuable shellfish thriving. Leda Cunningham with the Pew Charitable Trusts says North Carolina’s oysters are in good shape, but face threats from storms, poor water quality and the impacts of climate change. She believes the new oyster blueprint offers an example for other coastal states of how to restore and protect oyster populations

Leda Cunningham  12:27  
in those 15 or so years. It’s led to measurable progress in the state and that is really a result of the inclusive systematic approach that coastal Fed has taken with its partners to identifying challenges and opportunities with the special resource

Nadia Ramlagan  12:40  
guided by the blueprint. Over the years North Carolina has restored nearly 450 acres of oyster habitat grown shellfish aquaculture from a 250,000 to $5 million industry increased the number of shellfish farms in the state tenfold and developed a nationally recognized shell recycling program. Erin Fleckenstein with the North Carolina coastal Federation says the plan includes a new management strategies to help safeguard North Carolina’s waters, particularly in the Newport river and stump sound

Erin Fleckenstein  13:11  
make sure that they are pristine and healthy to grow oysters making it safe enough to harvest oysters from those beds, allowing for continued recreational opportunities.

Nadia Ramlagan  13:21  
Cunningham adds oysters add numerous benefits for coastal communities

Leda Cunningham  13:25  
restoring oysters would add so much value to the coast more oysters mean cleaner water better recreational fishing more wildlife more resilient shorelines more fishing jobs, and more healthy local food

Nadia Ramlagan  13:37  
goals outlined in the blueprint include building an additional 100 acres of oyster sanctuary in pamlico sound creating a cohesive oyster shell recycling program along the coast and in specific inland areas to help support habitat restoration projects and building 200 acres of reef to support wild harvest support for this reporting was provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts for North Carolina News Service. I’m Nadia Ramlagan. 

More North Carolina employers have changed their time off policies to include sick leave related to COVID-19. But low income workers and those in industries considered essential are still less likely to have paid leave. According to the North Carolina Justice Center as many as 3 million workers have navigated the pandemic without any paid sick days. Kathy Colville with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine says paid leave policies can have a measurable effect on the health of individuals and families.

Kathy Colville  14:35  
We’ve had these big demographic shifts in the last decade so that most children in North Carolina are cared for by parents who are working outside the home and we’ve also had this much more aging demographic.

Nadia Ramlagan  14:47  
state lawmakers are considering two bills the N c Paid Family Leave Act and the Healthy Families healthy workplaces act which would require employers to offer paid family and medical leave insurance and Allow workers to earn a minimum number of paid sick days. Colleville notes paid leave has particular benefits for new mothers and babies. Studies show women who receive at least 12 weeks of paid parental leave are more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding which is considered healthier for babies. She says a 2019 Duke University study also found paid leave during a pregnancy can reduce the chance of a low birth weight baby and even found that there was potentially a relationship between people having access to paid family leave and infants that would survive that might otherwise die. Colville adds research shows paid leave could also reduce the number of older North Carolina residents needing nursing home care by about 2% across the state employers are starting to rethink paid leave Joe Mecca of coastal credit union in Raleigh says his company modified its paid time off policies in the pandemic when people had fewer opportunities to take vacations. He says they offered to pay their employees instead

Joe Mecca  16:01  
we did have some employees whose families Yeah, they lost part of their income or had extra needs that they were trying to take care of during that time, the extra flexibility was helpful to them. 

Nadia Ramlagan  16:11  
He adds employees now receive an extra paid leave day to get Coronavirus vaccinations or recover from side effects. Earlier this year the CDC issued new workplace guidelines recommending paid leave for vaccination recovery for North Carolina new service I’m Nadia Ramlagan.

Eoin Trainor  16:32  
That’s it for this episode of Eye on the Triangle extra tuning in if you have any questions, comments, ideas or would like to get involved with the Eye on the Triangle team, shoot us an email at public We’d love to hear from you. Stay tuned for usual programming. We’ll see you next time.