McMinnville’s “Voice of the People” will be silent this week.
In honor of COVID-19 victims in Warren County and around the world, WCPI 91.3 FM, which has been serving the community for 22 years, will suspend on-air operations this afternoon, Sunday, Dec. 27, as a gesture of sympathy for those who mourn the COVID deaths of 33 local citizens, said Dr. Norman W. Rone, founding president of the nonprofit broadcaster.
“The pandemic has claimed the lives of loved ones, friends, co-workers. One of the things we are suddenly missing is their voice, the conversations we shared, for years and decades,” Rone said. “Taking a local radio service off the air for a week is a rare and extraordinarily dramatic action, but much less impactful than losing the voice of someone very close to us.
“While we do this to honor our loved ones and neighbors who have passed away, to support and comfort their families and to encourage those now battling COVID,” he continued, “we hope this time of radio silence will warn all others to the ever-present threat of this deadly virus. Mask-wearing, social distancing and careful hand hygiene are the simple things we can all do to slow the spread of the contagion,” Rone stressed.
While McMinnville public radio sends a silent signal to the community, the one-week departure from the airwaves is planned as a COVID safety measure inside the radio station’s operation, said Mary E. Cantrell, one of the longtime volunteers at WCPI who serves as station manager. The suspension will provide a break in the studio and control room as two employees have tested positive for the virus, she explained.
Meanwhile, public radio volunteer and station engineer Richard E. Myers will be installing and testing new equipment that will automate a large part of the broadcast production and allow for real-time internet streaming of the 24-hour-a-day programming.
Non-commercial WCPI offers a variety of musical entertainment and in-depth interviews, including the locally-produced “Opera Showcase” every Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. Kym Jones is the hostess and producer for the program, one of only a handful of regular, full-length opera programs in American radio.