During the year, more than 250 people volunteer for WKSU. They stuff envelopes, answer phones during fund drives, help assemble thank you gift mailings after the drives, or participate in station-sponsored events. Those volunteers are like family members or old friends who are always a pleasure to see.
In the year 2000 - WKSU's 50th anniversary year - the station's staff decided to recognize one person as Volunteer of the Year. Although it was difficult to choose just one person from among so many great volunteers, we chose Carol Newton. Carol was thrilled and other volunteers were glad to know we recognized her, so we decided to honor someone every year.
Continue reading and you will find out more about WKSU's Volunteers of the Year. And then please consider joining us as a volunteer! We would love to welcome you to the WKSU Volunteer Family!
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Meet our Volunteer of the Year Winners
Carol Newton: Always in Our Hearts
Carol Newton, WKSU's first Volunteer of the Year, was a friend whose warmth and good humor are sorely missed at the station. She was thrilled to be the first volunteer honored and confessed that WKSU played "all the time" at her home. She said that she woke up with Leonard, listened all day in her house, and kept the radio in her barn tuned to WKSU.
In June 2005, Carol was (as usual) volunteering to help with a WKSU event. It was Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, and although it was a blisteringly hot day, Carol was her usual, upbeat self. That being the case, it was a shock when we learned that she passed away just a few weeks later. In Carol's memory, we renamed the award in her honor: the Carol Newton Volunteer of the Year award. It is a small gesture, but we think Carol would be pleased.
It's Not Rocket Science
Rocket Scientist Jim Charpie may not think of his volunteer work at WKSU as another career, but the station's staff ranks him near the top of the list when it comes to lending a hand. Named WKSU Volunteer of the Year 2001, Jim is the man to call when there's a crisis. Little explosion in the lab? Call Jim. Need advice about the brand of shaving cream to send up with the NASA shuttle launch? Jim's your guy. Find yourself short-handed on a Saturday morning during the fall fund drive? or need someone to help sell merchandise during the Kent State Folk Festival? Jim Charpie is always glad to step forward.
Jim's "real" job is at ZIN Technologies in Cleveland, where he designs hardware for experiments performed aboard the International Space Station - experiments that are based on requirements set by NASA scientists. But Jim also has a passion for public radio and WKSU. Every morning, he turns off his alarm clock by turning on the radio, and his 45-minute commute to and from work always includes time with WKSU. "WKSU and NPR expand the breadth of my knowledge. They keep me alert - give me new perspectives - challenge my thoughts - and touch my emotions. Plus, WKSU's announcers don't say too much or too little; they add information without detracting from the programming." His volunteer work at the station, says Jim, "is a pure pleasure."
An English Lady Talks Back
Veronica Turner came to America from England in January 1999. "I didn't know anyone," she remembers. "I didn't have a car or access to public transportation, and my husband and I were living in an apartment."
At that point, Veronica had not discovered WKSU. In fact, she did not realize that there was a public radio station in Northeast Ohio. "In England, I listened to the BBC, which has five stations - one for classical music, another for popular music, a third for rock and roll, an all-talk station, and the last for sports," she explains. "When I came to America, I had never even heard of WKSU."
But one day, Veronica found 89.7 on her home radio. Soon after, she contributed to the station, and it was not long before she became a volunteer. "I thought volunteering would be fun," she remembers. "And it was!" But she also remembers that taking pledges over the phone was initially difficult because of the "American accents." "It wasn't as bad as speaking a foreign language, but it was almost that bad. I was always asking people to spell out things."
Veronica spent so much time volunteering at the station that she was honored as WKSU's Volunteer of the Year 2002.
"The more I listen to WKSU, the more I like it," she says. "I keep the radio on all the time: in my car, at home, and over the Internet, particularly if I missed something or I heard a piece of music and want to know what it is. WKSU is one of the real bonuses about living in America."
WKSU's Volunteer of the Year 2004 is "Simply Celestial"
When she retired in 2000 from her work as a career consultant for young people and adults, Celeste Billhartz wanted to spend some of her leisure time as a volunteer. But, she notes, "I didn't want to do just anything. After many years helping people find meaningful work, I knew it was important for me to do something that fit my personality and that I felt was necessary and purposeful."
An appeal for volunteers from WKSU caught Celeste's attention. "When I started volunteering at WKSU, I already had been listening to the station about 20 years. I thought it would be a good fit."
Volunteering at WKSU gave Celeste a completely different view of WKSU. The first time she volunteered she remembered being struck by the family-like atmosphere. "All of the volunteers were sincerely appreciated. The on-air people walked through the phone room during fund drives to thank us, and I loved that. The same went with everyone else, from the "big guys" like Al Bartholet (general manager) and Bob Burford (public relations director) to Karen at the front desk and Joyce (membership coordinator). It was clear that they really cared about the volunteers, and that was important to me."
Celeste likens her efforts at WKSU to one of her favorite quotes. "Mother Theresa said "Do small things with great love," she says. "And that's what WKSU volunteers do: small things that make a big difference to the station."
No Clowning Around: Diana Huntley is WKSU's Volunteer of the Year
During WKSU's on-air fundraising campaigns, phones begin to ring at 6 a.m. It is a painfully early start-up time for even the most avid WKSU volunteers, but there is a core group of stalwart souls who actually seem to enjoy rising before dawn to answer phones and take pledges. The "Early Morning Crew," as they have been affectionately dubbed, is surprisingly gregarious at that early hour. Their enthusiasm could be blamed on Leonard Will's coffee, which he brews around 4 a.m. each weekday and (he claims) is perfect after two-plus hours on the burner. Or it could be that these folks are determined to volunteer at WKSU before the demands of work or other family obligations take precedence.
Diana Huntley, WKSU's Carol Newton Volunteer of the Year 2005, is one of those early risers. No matter if it is spring, summer or fall, when WKSU holds an on-air fundraising campaign, Diana is always one of the first (and earliest) volunteers to take her place at the table to answer phones.
Diana - a 2004 Kent State graduate - started volunteering at WKSU when her daughter, Erica, suggested that they sign up together. They both enjoyed the camaraderie with the other volunteers, but it was not long before Erica moved to Los Angeles, cutting short her WKSU phone-answering days. Diana, sans daughter, kept signing up to help. She says that volunteering at WKSU has been a way for her to remain connected to different parts of the community.
"Whenever I volunteer during a drive, it's like a reunion," she says. "I find out about new books to read, new recipes to try, movies that have been recently released, and so on. And I always come away with new ideas and viewpoints. All of the volunteers are nice."
She also notes that the people who pledge are unfailingly warm and generous. She says that "the people who call know they are doing a good deed. I have the best possible phone conversations with callers because we are both working toward the same goal."
WKSU is not Diana's only interest; she also is eager to learn and try new things. While working at Akron Children's Hospital several years ago, she took classes in clowning. In the classes, she learned how to make balloon animals, juggle, develop a clown character, put on makeup and design costumes, and she became a member of the Hospital's clowning group: Jest Kids Clowns. Since coming to Kent State, she has continued clowning as a solo performer for churches, historical societies, and other local service groups.
In her office at Kent State University's Department of Pan African Studies, Diana's creativity shines in a display that she enthusiastically calls her "rogue's gallery." With five children and four grandchildren who live as close as Cuyahoga Falls, Jackson Township and Columbus - and as far away as Greenwich, Connecticut and San Diego - her photographs show an active and involved woman. There are snapshots of smiling family members, with a proud Diana featured in many. There are postcards from various family vacations. There is even a picture of her car, back tires snagged hopelessly in a ditch. Clearly, that photograph captures one of her more challenging days. "It took two tow trucks to get it out," she says with a smile. "I think it makes an interesting picture."
And what does this interesting lady enjoy most on WKSU? A Prairie Home Companion, and Car Talkand most other Saturday programs are favorites. But so is the classical music. And every morning - even during the fund drives - she depends on Leonard Will to tell her that it is time to get up. "WKSU is the only radio station I listen to," she says. "Thanks to volunteering at the station I now know the people I hear on WKSU. And I recognize other volunteers when I go to events. I love it."
Fred Glock chosen as 2007 Volunteer of the Year
Fred and Holly Glock
Music was always a big part of Fred Glock's family. His grandfather was a "natural" who could play any instrument well. In fact, it was his remarkable talent that landed him a position as a substitute for the Louisville, Kentucky Orchestra - he could play any instrument they needed. Fred's grandmother and mother also were very accomplished vocalists and pianists who loved to play classical piano concertos, hymns, and popular music from the 1940's.
Much like his grandparents and mother, Fred discovered that he also had a knack for playing music. While attending college in Louisville, Fred became one of the founding members of the Juggernaut Jug Band. The "quirky" nature of jug band music with its eclectic mix of traditional and non-traditional instruments is what Fred found most appealing. (Jug bands include instruments such as guitars, fiddles, mandolins, washboards, washtubs, kazoos, jugs, bells, and whistles.)
"It's just fun music," said Fred. "It's the happiest music in the world. You can play any type of music in any style. It's a genre that lends itself to many types of music."
And it was while living at home in Louisville that Fred experienced the joy of folk music. Fred's love of folk music began while listening to various groups on the radio, including The Kingston Trio, Simon & Garfunkle, and Peter, Paul & Mary. Their music eventually sparked his interest in more traditional folk songs.
It is often said that a person never strays far from his or her roots. So when Fred and his wife, Holly, moved to Northeast Ohio Fred immediately began to look for a folk music niche. He eventually found
"It was the station's commitment to folk music that brought me to WKSU and has kept me a loyal listener," said Fred. "WKSU is the only place where I can listen to folk music on a regular basis."
Fred decided to volunteer at the station after he retired from BFGoodrich in 2003. He has volunteered in many capacities, including answering phones during WKSU's fund drives and selling merchandise and judging the talent show at the Kent State Folk Festival. Fred and Holly also are very generous supporters of WKSU and Folk Alley. Most recently, Fred and Holly included WKSU in their will.
"WKSU's Director of Philanthropic Giving made it very easy for Holly and me to communicate our wishes for making a planned gift," said Fred. "I strongly encourage other donors to talk openly with WKSU's Development staff about the many planned giving options that are available to help them further their commitment to the station."
Dedicated donors and volunteers are invaluable to the success of WKSU-FM. And Fred's unyielding commitment to the station is what encouraged the WKSU staff to select him as the 2007 Volunteer of the Year.