A Mind for Science: How Radio Newark Supports STEM and STEAM Education

STEM education (sometimes broadened to STEAM with an A for Arts) is a way to combine many related disciplines — currently viewed by students and society as independent subjects with little overlap — into a single, integrated program that emphasizes the interdependences among the four disciplines and their applications to everyday life.  Radio Newark’s programming offers support and ideas for how to draw connections across disciplines.  The programming embodies STEAM education for everyone.  Story telling is an art, and Radio Newark’s “A Mind for Science” stories aspire to entertain and educate at the same time.

As a nation, we need well-educated citizens in STEM fields.  Currently, the “T” and “E” in STEM are rarely taught in K–12 settings.  Because of this, few people understand the way in which these fields benefit our society or the variety of careers that support them.  By exposing our listeners to STEM topics and the people engaged with them, Radio Newark can help to deepen everyone’s understanding of the world in which we live.

Radio Newark offers short, STEM-focused stories intended to spark the interest of general audiences.  We will partner with local schools to expose students to science communication and to provide examples of the many fields of study and possible careers that exist under the umbrella of STEM education.  Families can listen together and talk about the topics that interest them.  Our website will carry occasional blog posts that accompany some of our “A Mind for Science” stories with pictures, behind-the-scenes details, and additional resources about the topic.

–Rebecca Stewart

Radical Program Format

This post covers the Style Guide for our program format and how we got there.

A few years ago, I took stock of “what is wrong with radio,” and came up with this list:

  • Block programming — the same programs at the same time every day.
  • Same voices — the same people saying the same things every day.
  • Same music — country, Christian, hip-hop, AC, urban, whatever…
  • Choked with really crappy, locally-produced advertisements.

Sidebar — Does this sound familiar?

“We offer fast, friendly, reliable service at affordable prices.  Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is here Monday to Friday, nine until six, Saturday, ten until four, for your shopping convenience.  Quality and selection — GUARANTEED low prices — are just SOME of the things you can depend on AND TRUST from your locally-owned and operated value center.  Convenient payment plans available, some restrictions apply on limited time offer, so call, drop-in and experience the difference that service, selection, and quality makes.”  (Thank you, Gair Maxwell — yes, I bought his book.)  Radio ads in Delaware just ROT.

Sorry for the sidebar.  Back to the list:

  • Bad juvenile humor.  Pick any morning show.  Hey, I’m not against juvenile humor, but when it’s predictable or rude, it’s stupid.  That’s not who I am.  You’ve lost me and most of the people I know.
  • Automated, satellite-based music and hosts.  (Hurricane Sandy hits and Bill-FM is still playing “It’s a Beautiful Day.”)
  • Super-narrow music playlists generated in New York, Nashville, or Los Angeles.  Yes, Delaware has LOCAL music.
  • The left bashing the right, and the right bashing the left — both with their ears stopped up.
  • Shows that start just after the news and end about an hour later, or three hours later.
  • Same programs in the same markets all across the dial.  It’s like Subway has franchised radio.
  • One hundred, three-hour baseball games in every market, every year, all across the entire country.  Come on — can’t you come up with ANYTHING better than that?
  • Then there’s what we DON’T hear — medical breakthroughs, scientific achievements, new research, local organizations sponsoring local events and activities, STORIES not just news.  On and on.


Now, before the wrong people start taking this personally (like they’re really going to care what I say anyway…), you need to know that quite a bit of the above DOES NOT APPLY TO WDEL-AM.  This is the one shining ray on Delaware’s radio dial.  WDEL has a great staff, understanding executives, great support from businesses and the community, and a full complement of listeners.  Peter, Mellany, Allan, Al, Rick, and Pete (the boss) really do great radio — day in and day out.

Science Radio Station

As a SCIENCE radio station, Radio Newark takes the above programming guidelines and blows them up.  Wrecks ’em.  Breaks every rule that’s up there.

Except for the common theme of entertainment, education and inspiration, we have no single topic and no real schedule.  News at the top of the hour, and around half-past too, but there is no pattern to the programming in between.

We have no host.  At all.  Not even robotic ones.  (We hope to, soon, though, because we feel this is important.)

We don’t do block programming — we do the opposite.  Our snackable content varies in length from one or two minutes up to ten or twelve on average, but each piece is different from the next.  From a different producer, on a different topic, with a different story to tell.

And we search out every possible program of interest, from whatever network or organization it may be produced.  We have as of August 18, 2014 signed, formal and informal rebroadcast or affiliation agreements with sixty-two networks, producers, and content sources.


Our Style Guide reads like this:

  • You are not likely to hear our programming on another radio station anywhere on Earth.  We are unique.
  • We broadcast science stories and science news, so we many not be the radio station for you.  In fact, we’re probably aren’t.  We’re OK with that.
  • Our segments are short because we’re busy.  Perhaps you’ve got the time to sit and listen to something for hours.  I don’t.  Neither do most of the people I hang out with.  We’ve got stuff going on.
  • Because of all that stuff, our M-F schedules are pretty similar.  Breakfast, school, work, home, etc.  I listen to Radio Newark at about the same time every day, but I don’t want to hear the same stuff.  So we play different stuff all the time.
  • Spoken word programming, because we get the other kind in different ways.  (Pandora, probably.)
  • In addition to entertainment, we want to educate and inspire.  We think those are worthy goals.

This post isn’t finished, yet, but I’m going to make it public anyway.  There’s much more to say on this topic.

Steve Worden, General Manager

Fabulously Late Update

Fabulously Overdue Update

There is a huge HOLE in this blog where 10,000 things should go — beginning with thanksgiving for the amount of kindness, financial support, and volunteer effort that has been DONTATED to Radio Newark over these last few months.

I have been remiss in not charting our waypoints here.  Busy on other fronts, but neglecting one’s website is just wrong.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY that wrong is hereby corrected!


“Experimental” Podcast Joins Omnibus / Radio Newark


“Experimental” Joins Omnibus / Radio Newark

Experimental Popular Science Podcast popsciCreated in 2011, the Experimental Podcast was conceived out of the Banff Science Communications program as a way for career science communicators to continue creating interesting content while practicing their writing, editing and audio recording / editing skills. Each podcast is three to seven minutes in length and covers a popular science topic of interest. There have been numerous contributors to the podcast, but it is produced, directed and hosted by Scott Unger.

The material covered on Experimental ranges from natural science (as in “Flirty Monkeys Throw Stones at Males To Get Their Attention”) to stuff that’s just plain interesting.  (See “Human Yawning Makes Dogs Yawn Too!”)  What makes these segments notable is that they are STORIES.  There is a well-crafted beginning, middle, and end to what plays out, with great sound effects and bed music throughout each piece.

Executive Producer Scott Unger does a great job of keeping the production values very high.  The material is lively, of interest to many, and relies on a number of expert science communicators for content, so there are different views and different voices from week to week.  Altogether “good stuff” as you’ll soon see.

Experimental will be making its debut on Radio Newark / Omnibus in March, 2014.  Let me know what you think!

Radio Newark Is Becoming Omnibus

Branding Problem SOLVED

Once upon a time, there was NO HOPE for getting a radio station license for Newark, Delaware, so we went online with “Radio Newark.”  Who knew, back in 2010, that the FCC would open a Filing Window for the Low-Power FM Radio service?  (In November, 2013.)

Three bright minds looked at the entire FM dial in 2009, looking for ANY POSSIBLE WAY to jam an LPFM radio station into Newark, Delaware.  But with the co-channel, first-adjacent, second-adjacent, and THIRD-ADJACENT rules the way they were, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE.  It literally took an Act of Congress to get the rules changed over at the FCC.  Several Acts, in fact, and it took several years for all the new rules to be implemented.

In the meantime, Radio Newark built up quite a little following.

The station — the Internet station you hear today — changed a lot over the years.  We saw right away that many of our listeners were coming from overseas.  That forced us to rethink our programming, and we scrapped dayparts because we were broadcasting to listeners in forty time zones around the world simultaneously.  Our weather reports went from being local, to national, then we dropped them altogether to concentrate on programming of interest to ALL.

But the new FM station needs to concentrate of the listeners of Newark.

And we think its name should reflect Newark, too.

So over the next few months, our current science-focused Internet radio station is going to become “Omnibus.”  The programming will NOT be changed, other than to continue our pattern of adding fascinating new content sources as soon as we have agreements signed.  The focus on science, education, and self-development will never change, as that is one of our unique features.  Omnibus will replace Radio Newark as the name, but everything else will remain just about the same.

This has been a consideration of ours for quite a while.  In fact, I even registered an “Omnibus Radio” domain for a few years but we never changed over.

Now we are.

We do this so that in a year or so, we’ll be back online with a localized version of Radio Newark that is much more of a reflection of my hometown.  This will coincide with the launch of our FM staion WIZU 99.9 MHz right here in Newark, Delaware.

I’m fuzzy on the timing of all of this, but that’s OK.  It’ll all work out.

Thank you for riding with us through this transitional time.

News Journal Covers FCC Authorization

Radio Newark Brainy Web Station Gets FCC License

OUT OF THE BLUE I get a phone call on the Studio line from Aaron Rogers, “business reporter at the News Journal” in Wilmington, DE — a Gannett newspaperAnd he has 1,000 questions.

I thought Journalism was dead?  Apparently, Aaron hasn’t gotten that email.  He may have heard about us from Doug Rainey, the publisher of Delaware Business Daily, because Doug has been covering this story from BEFORE IT EVEN STARTED.(!)

I’m no expert on journalism and the media, but I can tell you that Aaron Nathans, Doug Rainey and Josh Shannon, too (more on Josh in the next post…), are true Journalists.  Professionals.  Competent, knowledgeable, skillful, ‘factful’ in their reporting, creative in their writing, and effective in their communication.

After all the bashing I’ve heard of newspaper reporting I’ve found these three fellows to be excellent at their work.  Yes, it’s nice that they called and wrote about what we’re doing (that includes YOU), but what I found most interesting was the workmanlike way in which they crafted their product.  They all three are very, very skilled.

Right — So what they did is write stories about us.

You should have seen Aaron’s story in print.  (I’ll put a scan of it online.)  My mother called at 7:30 in the morning.  “Stephen, the radio station made the paper!  It’s a GREAT article.”  What a plus!  I love the headline most, because it talks about who is listening.  “Radio Newark Brainy Web Station Gets FCC License.”

Nice to be called Brainy, isn’t it?

Here is Aaron’s story — http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/small-business/2014/02/23/radio-newark-brainy-web-station-gets-fcc-license/5759463/

Thank you, Aaron, for your kind article, and thank YOU for making our little oasis possible.

Steve Worden

PS — I have to thank Robert Craig for a great visit to the station, too.  Bob did the photos you see in the News Journal article.  And because this is Delaware, after a few minutes of talking I learned that he went to Christiana High School with my brother and later worked with my father at W. L. Gore and Associates.  Really, it’s like that around here.



Construction Permit Received

FCC says DO IT!

Stunned, to say the least.

FCC Construction Permit

The Feds have issued us a Construction Permit!  We WILL BUILD an FM radio station that will cover all of Newark with Listen Radio, Not Talk Radio®!”

Now, creating something from NOTHING is an impossibility, I’m told, but I’ve watched you create a radio station from nothing but an idea.

(Ha! Take that, Physicists!)

YOU have tweeted and Liked and linked and shared and fundedEACH ACTION providing the impetus needed to move this project forward.

To this end: the Federal Communications Commission has granted a Construction Permit to build a real radio station.

Proof that dreams can become reality.

YOU are the reason why this happened.  You have been so encouraging.  Your gifts funded our engineering.  Your word-of-mouth, tweets, Likes, and shares amplifies everything we’re doing.  Thank you SO MUCH.

Our frequency will be 99.9 MHz, and the signal will be heard all over the city, down to Brookside, up to Pike Creek, and over to Elk Mills.  “Newark 99.9 WIZU” will be on the air THIS YEAR.

We’re going to need a Big Push soon — but I know you’re UP FOR IT!


Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

You don’t see the Small Army that is behind this station, but you know your part.  Thank you for engaging.  Your gift is significant. Your contribution is important.  Your words are meaningful.

Every bit of effort sent our way lifts us another step.

I am grateful for you, and I want you to KNOW THAT.  I am grateful for your encouragement, notes, email, phone calls and financial support, too.  We would not be here if it weren’t for YOU.

Talk to you soon.  All the best from Delaware,
Stephen Worden, General Manager
For the Newark Community Radio Board of Directors


Status Change at the FCC — “Accepted For Filing”

Let’s build a RADIO STATION!

Accepted_For_Filing_smallTODAY the FCC changed our LPFM application status from Received to Accepted For Filing, which means after a 30-day public comment window, Newark Community Radio will have the blessing of the Federal government to build an FM radio station to cover Newark, Delaware!

Pass the PEANUTS, let’s LAUNCH this thing!

I’m going to need your help with everything from fund raising to antenna raising.  This is an amazing opportunity.  It’s time to grab on AND GO!

THANK YOU for taking this thing from a wild idea to a wild reality.  STAY TUNED — We’re just getting STARTED!

All the best from Newark,


LPFM Application Is FILED

FM Radio Station for Newark, Delaware

Newark, Delaware — In what seemed to be an impossibly convoluted mess, what with the government shutdown and a second-adjacent channel problem¹ that WOULD NOT GO AWAY we found a way to wedge our station into a perfectly sized window of opportunity.

¹ Radio stations must protect other radio stations on nearby frequencies.  Being in the crowded East Coast media market, this was a very challenging problem to solve.

And when I say “we” I mean an angel in the form of Doug Vernier of V-Soft Communications.

In layman’s terms, Doug is The Bomb.  He literally wrote the software that the broadcast industry uses to solve overcrowded frequency problems like ours.

Doug personally performed the engineering needed, provided charts and tables and diagrams and a summary page of notes sure to bring tears to the eyes of the FCC reviewer.  (It certainly brought tears to mine.)
There were some REAL SURPRISES along the way (trust me), but in the end, we got ‘er done.  The engineering is perfect and our application status is “FILED.”  It’s in the hands of the FCC now.

Editor’s Pick at WindowsMedia.com — AGAIN!

Redmond LOVES Radio Newark

We’ve all seen the fake video of the guy getting struck by lightning twice, but this is FOR REAL, for real.  Radio Newark has been selected as the Editor’s Pick at Microsoft’s WindowsMedia.com.  No kidding — check it out!


Science Radio Station Selected As Editors Pick At WindowsMedia.com

I think it’s the creativity of geniuses like Dr. John Leinhard (The Engines of Our Ingenuity), Steven Cherry (IEEE Techwise Conversations), Dr. Seth Shostak and Molly Bently (SETI Institure / Big Picture Science, Roy H. Williams (Wizard Academy / Monday Morning Memo) and Dan Misener (Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids) that make Radio Newark so interesting, entertaining, and inspirational.

But it is active listeners — you, me, all of us — that make the station alive.  You give the station breath by telling your friends, blogging about it, Liking us on Facebook, and adding our listings to Internet directories around the world.

Thank you for making this happen.  We wouldn’t be where we are without you.




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