New station features processes of government Radio: WCSP-FM (90.1) serves up large doses of public policy as it's happening, but more selectively than C-SPAN.

On the Air

February 22, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

If C-SPAN, the cable TV network offering gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress, sounds like an idea that's better in theory than in fact, then the idea of C-SPAN radio sounds like tedium redefined.

The torture inherent in listening to Newt Gingrich or Richard Gephart speak is somewhat relieved by watching their faces. But without the pictures

But duplicating C-SPAN is not what WCSP-FM (90.1) is all about. C-SPAN is obligated to focus a camera on the House and Senate whenever they're in session. WCSP is not, and thus can be more selective in what it covers.

"We certainly mirror the C-SPAN network, in that our job is to provide access to the public-policy process," says Bob Spence, general manager of the Washington-based station, which debuted in October at the spot on the dial that was once home to WDCU-FM. "But we have a little more flexibility. If coverage of the House or Senate may be compelling, or if there's an important issue being debated, we may cover them live. But we don't have to."

Already, Spence says, WCSP has provided live coverage of campaign finance hearings, sessions with the president's press secretary and even the British House of Commons as its members debated the situation in Iraq.

"We're geared toward someone who is interested in government and the public-policy process," Spence says. "Not someone who is a political junkie, but just someone who has an interest in how government and the public-policy process works."

WCSP's weekday programming is devoted largely to live or near-live coverage. But each day kicks off at 7 a.m. with a three-hour call-in show, "Washington Journal," simulcast on C-SPAN. And from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, WCSP's "Events of the Day" provides a summation of the day.

Spence says he is particularly proud of WCSP's weekend programming. "Presidential History," airing from 3 p.m. to 4: 50 p.m. on Saturdays, has included archival tapes made by Lyndon Johnson during his presidency, while "Historical Oral Arguments" p.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays) has aired tapes from some of the Supreme Court's most important decisions, including the case in which evangelist Jerry Falwell sued pornographer Larry Flynt.

And on Sundays, WCSP's programming includes broadcasts of the TV networks' public affairs shows, including NBC's "Meet the Press" (noon), ABC's "This Week With Sam and Cokie" (1 p.m.), "Fox News Sunday" (2 p.m.), "CNN Late Edition" (3 p.m.) and CBS' "Face the Nation" (4 p.m.).

With a recent increase in power to 50,000 watts, WCSP can now be heard in Baltimore, as well as much of Maryland.

Island and environment

If you couldn't get tickets to last summer's Concert for Montserrat, which brought together rock and roll royalty including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Eric Clapton, don't worry.

Bob and Zoh Hieronimus are here to help you out -- and raise a little more money for the cash-strapped West Indies island.

Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to noon, WCBM-AM's "The Zoh Show" will broadcast live from the Hard Rock Cafe downtown. During the broadcast and after, packages of rock memorabilia will be offered for sale. Half the proceeds will help aid the victims of volcanic activity that devastated Montserrat; the other half will go to a local group, the Baltimore Environmental Crisis Center.

Sale items will include T-shirts, programs and tickets from the Montserrat concert, plus items associated with such artists as the Beatles, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. Many of the items are from Bob Hieronimus' personal collection; others were donated by memorabilia dealers from around the world.

WCBM broadcasts at 680 AM.

'Champions of Courage'

As part of its commemoration of Black History Month, WBFF, Channel 45, has chosen four Baltimoreans to serve as "Champions of Courage."

* Dean C. Jones, a 24-year Maryland state police veteran who volunteers as a mentor and motivational speaker at local schools.

* Dorothy Jones, a nurse at Govans Elementary who started a program that pairs students at the school with residents of the Epiphany House Nursing Home.

* Joseph Molyneaux, who has devoted much of his life to ensuring educational opportunities for the disadvantaged and who serves on the board of directors of the Mother Seton Academy.

* Donald Torres, a former official with the city Health Department who has helped develop internships in environmental health for local college students.

Pub Date: 2/22/98

RTC

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