On Friday, Sept. 27, the Town of North Hempstead and its radio show “Project Independence and You” will celebrate eight years of broadcasting while serving senior citizens across northern Nassau County.
The show is based on – and named after – Project Independence, the town’s aging in place program that provides programs and services that assist senior residents who wish to remain in their own homes. These services include transportation for groceries and medical visits, help with home maintenance, nursing and social work services, fitness classes and community education, along with many others.
“It’s really an amazing show,” said show producer Kristina Lew, who also works with the town Department of Services for the Aging. “We have the privilege of really getting all of this information out to our audience and caregivers, which is incredible.”
Lew has been the producer of the show since its inception in 2011 and has worked with a variety of hosts and co-hosts over the eight years the show has been on the air. Despite not having a background in radio, Lew has successfully put out a show every Friday from 10 a.m. to noon on 88.1 FM WCWP, Long Island University’s college radio station, after a licensing opportunity with the FCC fell through.
“The FCC was going to give a license to us, and it sounded great on paper, but it was going to be a 24/7 thing,” said Lew. “It gives me anxiety just thinking about programming for that. After calling around, we reached out to Dan [Cox], who’s the director of broadcasting here at LIU, and he said he wanted to branch out and not just be a college radio station because senior citizens are still listening to radio.”
“We’re not looking for anyone to put on a presentation,” said Otto Lohse, who has been one of the show’s co-hosts for all eight years. “We don’t want the host or co-host to be like a shock jock. It’s not like a political environment to me, and I think that’s important.”
Each week, the Project Independence team is joined by a guest, considered to be an expert in a field. The guests vary from week to week, but each has a common theme: they all speak about a topic that could have an impact on senior citizens or their caregivers. Lew is responsible for booking the guests to appear on the show, while the rest of the crew studies up on the topic for the week.
“Everybody does a little homework before, so we can have a halfway decent conversation,” said Lohse, on the people he meets each week. “But she makes all the phone calls, we just show up and they’re here!”
While Lew is the one who schedules the interviews, she isn’t alone in finding the experts for the show’s interview segments.
“I have our co-hosts or other seniors call me up and tell me ‘I met this doctor’ or ‘I have this great topic of interest’ … and I become a detective to try and hunt down the appropriate person to talk about that topic,” explained Lew. “I’ll also have organizations contact me about the show, saying they want to be on here. It’s all different venues and we’re always trying to stay up to date on new trends.”
As for the rest of the show’s format, the two interviews take up the first hour, with each guest receiving approximately 30 minutes to discuss a topic. The second hour consists of a 30-minute “Old Time Radio” segment, which brings senior listeners back to the era in which radio programming was the primary source for entertainment. The other 30 minutes is the “Talk of the Town” segment, which is when Lew hops on the mic herself and talks about the different events and programs happening in the Town of North Hempstead or nearby. She said that the “Talk of the Town” is more than just what’s going on in the Town of North Hempstead.
“The format we have here is a roundtable discussion,” said Lew. “We say it’s like sitting around drinking coffee at your dining room table with your friends.”
“Project Independence and You” will celebrate its eighth anniversary in its usual time slot, 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 27. Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth will be present and can be heard on air during the first hour of the show.
Co-hosts of the show will also reflect on memories of the show and what it means to them to have an impact on their local community. You can tune in to the show at 88.1 FM in northern Nassau County, by visiting www.wcwp.org or on the WCWP app on your smartphone or tablet.
As for any past episodes you might have missed, the Town of North Hempstead keeps an archive of every episode, which can be found online at www.northhempsteadny.gov/PI-Radio-Shows.