‘Founding mothers’ of NCPR handing over mic

wwny ‘Founding mothers’ of NCPR handing over mic

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - The three “founding mothers” of North Country Public Radio are handing over the microphone. Accolades are pouring in upon their retirement.

They’ve been through a lot together. Tight deadlines, one colossal ice storm, fundraising drives. And big changes in the media landscape.

“I think we knew we were on to something that made a difference in our community. And as long as we kept working at it … it would succeed. And it did,” said Ellen Rocco, station manager.

The three started working at North Country Public Radio in its infancy four decades ago. One just retired. The other two soon will. But no doubts about the experiment of listener-supported radio in all that time.

“Never. I think we always believed in it,” said Rocco.

The station mainly spun disks in the beginning. Nearly all day. But in the 1980s they began building an award-winning, nationally recognized news department. With a difference.

"We always remember that we have a personal voice. That we’re talking to one person at at time,” said Jackie Sauter, former program director.

When the ice storm of 1998 hit, they took the philosophy of making a difference and one person at time to the hilt.

They broadcast news like this:

“Somebody would have a load of firewood to give away. They’d be at X intersection. The little general store at some crossroad would be getting eggs and milk and bread," said Martha Foley, news director.

Foley, Rocco and Sauter have stories to tell about the past. But they seem more excited about the station’s future. About award-winning projects, like “North Country at Work.” And their “Howl Story Slam.” And a news project called “Piecing it together.”

The founding mothers want the news awards to keep coming for their successors. And they want the station to keep touching listeners in the north country – one at a time.

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