Thank You, Bob Balogh

Written by Miasha Lee

After ten years of giving listeners commentary, poetry and music on Monday mornings
from 6-9 a.m., Valley Free Radio programmer/host Bob Balogh of the Morning Roll has retired
and broadcast his final show on Nov. 14. “I’ve reached my age and threshold of energy, so it’s
time to retire,” stated Balogh. “It’s been a richly rewarding experience in the last ten years at
VFR. I’m hoping that by opening a space on Monday morning it will give someone else an
opportunity to start something artistically for them.”

Bob Balogh, in studio, waving goodbye.

Balogh has been on a radio station every year since 1981. He was in the Marine Corps in
the late 60’s as a radio man in the Vietnam War calling airstrikes, resupplies and medevacs. He
attended Western Connecticut State University in the early 1980s, where he majored in theater
and joined the college’s radio station WXCI. From there went on to a bigger community station
in Bridgeport, CT known as WPKN for 30 years. Then transitioned to a station in Great
Barrington, MA called WBCR from 2004-2012. One of the programmers at WBCR informed
Balogh about a station they were doing some stuff in Northampton called WXOJ. He started
listening to the station and was attracted to what they were doing artistically so in 2012, he made
the move to Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP 103.3 FM Northampton.
“I’ve always been influenced by free form radio,” Balogh explained. I was really
attracted to the whole greater Northampton community, what was going on musically and it was
very fulfilling.”

Throughout his ten years at VFR, Balogh said he’s learned things along the way and has
evolved based on what he’s been influenced by over his entire lifetime. He credits WXOJ and the
greater Northampton area for being exposed to so much new music and new artists that he
otherwise would have never paid attention to. That gave him energy and the thrill of being on the
air alive.

“Bob brought a level of professionalism and gravitas to VFR,” said Board of Directors
member Mark Bove who’s been at the station since 2014. “He has an authority in his delivery on
air announcing the weather, time and news and does things you don’t expect of a morning show
with his wry commentary and humorous twists on obscure news events, the reading of his poems
and writings from his chapter books and occasionally, bad puns.”
Bove continued, “Bob has done a really good job of talking to his audience as if he was
talking to an individual listener. He strived to make a connection between the person in the booth
here at the station and the person listening. That will be a legacy for others to strive to do
throughout their shows.”

Lila Wolan-Jedziniak, one of the founding VFR members/programmers has been good
friends with Balogh for many years. She considers him as a surrogate father who’s always looked
after her best interest. “One thing I’ve learned after this year is that I realize the meaning of
friendship,” Jedziniak replied. “He’s a positive person with his own sense of humor. I admire his
work ethic and drive. Bob manages to pull through no matter what he’s going through, and I want
to be just like that 20 years from now in my life.” She went on to say, “Thank you Bob for the music. Thank you for keeping us informed of what’s going on in the community and thank you
for bringing some levity to the morning.”

VFR member/board treasurer Stefan Ward-Wheten said, “Bob has been a benefactor of
Valley Free Radio. His willingness and ability to contribute in various different ways that makes
him a model programmer and a model community member of a station like ours.”
Wheten was just starting out and had been a few months on the air when Balogh came to
the station. During that time, Wheten recalled VFR didn’t have as full of a roster as they do now.
The community of programmers was still pretty small and there were still large gaps in the
schedule that they were filling with Pacifica content or rebroadcast content. VFR didn’t have a
morning broadcast and the morning is traditionally an important time slot in radio because that’s
when a lot of people are in their cars driving and listening to the radio. For Balogh to get a big
time slot of three hours in the morning was a lot even on a community radio station, but
nonetheless he proved capable of keeping the momentum.

“Before Bob, we really didn’t have anything like that in its place,” Wheten responded. “After his show became a fixture on our calendar, we started trying to actively cultivate a regular
morning lineup which has been pretty successful. Bob started the week off on Monday mornings
and has connected us to a wider new audience.”

Wheten wants Balogh’s legacy at VFR to be his sensibility for bringing together various
aspects of his life, work, and interest into radio. His creativity in making all of these things fit
together. As well as being open and generous with his time, insight and experience with other
programmers, younger programmers especially. “That’s precisely what a station like Valley Free Radio is all about,” Wheten added. “It’s the kind of ethos that we really try to cultivate here, and, in some ways, I think it’s the reason we
all do this, but Bob just happens to exemplify it really well.”

Right now, Balogh is happy, content and has a plan. After leaving WXOJ, he’s
volunteering once a week at a station walking distance from where he lives in Pittsfield called
WRRS devoted to the blind and handicapped reading the newspaper for two hours live on the air.
He also has his own performance studio in Pittsfield where he has poetry readings and theatrical
performances on CTSB-TV (Community Television for the Southern Berkshires) in Lee, MA.
Balogh wants to be known as someone who appreciates his fellow broadcasters and learns from
each and every person that’s there.

“Preparation is the key to having a good radio show,” Balogh responded. “I just hope that
I presented myself as a good enough person to win somebody’s respect. I’m just glad that I was
able to be in a mellow frame of mind at this stage in my life where I could meet people at VFR
and be a good listener and a good friend.”

On behalf of all the members here at Valley Free Radio, we thank Bob Balogh for his

More Posts for Show: The Morning Roll

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Community radio is part of the democratic process. Anyone can have a show, no matter what age, race, gender, or interest. Valley Free Radio began with a group of activists who wanted to have open airwaves that are separate from commercial interests. Be part of that tradition; be a part of the VFR community. 

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VFR Chronicles: Vol. 2

VFR Chronicles, Volume 2: Collaborators of Technology

Writer, journalist, and VFR Programmer of Straight to the Music

Written by Miasha Lee.

Valley Free Radio has a flourishing partnership with NCTV (Northampton Community Television), the city of Northampton’s public access television network. Collaborating on public events such as Northampton Pride, have an underwriting group with them and had an internship program from 2015-2016 training high school students on audio productions and editing.
“Like us, NCTV has been a partner organization in terms of trying to foster independent media and independent media creators in giving them a platform. They’re more in the visual realm and we’re of the audio realm,” responded VFR member Stefan Ward Wheten.

In 2005, Former VFR member Joel Saxe began attending VFR meetings in a social hall at the First Churches of Northampton. He got his start in video production, filmmaking and teaching at Amherst Community Television and Springfield Community Access in the 1980’s when public access television was called community access television. “It was a really important side of community media production,” said Saxe. “Very much a
precursor in some ways to the low power FM movement that valley Free Radio is a part of.” He continued, “Now, people are making broadcast quality videos on iPhone. Back then if you wanted to make a video, you had to go to a community access station or a video production facility.”

With his background in video production, Saxe went to those meetings proposing a collaboration between Valley Free Radio and Northampton Community Television. To create programming for both shows through this partnership. “It would be synergetic to have the possibility that people could be doing public affair shows that would come out on Valley Free Radio on the airwaves, but there could also be a broadcast on Northampton Community Television on cable access,” Saxe told. “This was before
cable and streaming was what it is now. We didn’t have it at that point so the ability to distribute independent media was something you didn’t have the kind of networks that we have today that are through the Internet.”

Saxe had a series of conversations with NCTV on a possible collaboration. However, it didn’t pan out at that time for them to pair with VFR.

In 2006, Saxe became an VFR member and joined the Bread and Roses Radio. When Ed Charla the driving force of Bread and Roses passed away, Saxe took over the leadership capacity of the show until his departure from the station in 2018. In 2014, Saxe continued to do media work and editing projects at NCTV. While advocating a partnership with Valley Free Radio. Saxe, Wheten and other VFR members Bob Gardner and Rick Haggerty reached out to NCTV for a second time. They spoke to director Al
Williams and his board of directors on working together. NCTV said yes and that same year, the first studio camera was installed followed by two more in 2017.

In addition, NCTV advised the station on setting up the Dow studio and helped them do remote broadcasts. “In that time,” Wheten stated. “We’ve been able to lay the foundation of how- to multimedia content creation. We’ve been able to bring in cameras and given the opportunity to
broadcast video content. For programmers to record their shows on camera and make them available also to rebroadcast on NCTV on the actually television channel.”

Recently, NCTV changed their name to NOM (Northampton Open Media) which is a direct re-brand of the network. As Northampton Open Media, they’re more than just television. They are still continuing to foster media creation in terms of Internet and multimedia content which Wheten hopes there’ll be more opportunities in the future to do that as well.
The cameras are set up at the radio station and there are resources available for shows that want to use the editing facility and borrow equipment such as remote audio recorders, microphones or
cameras that are up.

VFR still has a standing underwriting agreement with NOM and do their best to share their resources wherever possible.

Stick around for Vol. 3 of Valley Free Radio Chronicles.