Glenn Mitroff, 54, has been the volunteer and outreach coordinator at community radio station WORT-FM (89.9) for 10 years. In that role, he helps coordinate the work of some 300 weekly volunteers who put in about 62,000 hours of service a year at the station.
Why should somebody volunteer at WORT rather than serve Meals on Wheels or do some other kind of direct charitable work?
We have been able to get out the word about what others are doing in the community. We are like that megaphone that amplifies the work that they do in the community. A lot of aspects of the world are really harsh. When you can turn on the radio and celebrate — you can hear music, this wonderful music — and you can share information and news and culture. Really what I think the station is about is letting people know what’s going on in the community so that they can get involved.
WORT’s nonmusic programming is pretty liberal. Is there, like, a Ralph Nader pledge you have to sign to work there?
No. People who come to volunteer for the most part have been listeners, so it’s no surprise, if they get into conversations with people, where most people may be coming from. Everyone who’s on the air here is a volunteer. There are a few staff members who have shows, but they can’t count any of their time planning or being on the air toward their work hours. The other thing is that staff, board, business underwriters have nothing, nothing, nothing to say about content. We don’t tell people what music to play, who to talk to or what to say.
What do you think about Madison’s other main nonprofit radio station, Wisconsin Public Radio?
I think Wisconsin Public Radio is really very excellent. I think that we are much more grassroots. We get hundreds of people involved with the programming as opposed to a smaller number of paid people.
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What’s your favorite WORT show and why?
I really like the pledge drives a lot because it is a time when we celebrate and we talk about what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been doing it. I think pledge shows are my favorite show.
OK, what’s your second-favorite show?
(Laughs). I have so many. I love Rockin’ John (McDonald’s) show. I love listening to all the folk shows.
Tell us about your life outside of WORT.
For family, you can put down my husband, Dan Lippitt. We call ourselves “unlawfully wedded.” A really special thing for us is we have an Ostfriesland tea at our house. Ostfriesland is along the North Sea in Germany. It’s a real tea ceremony, very ritualized. We try and do this at least a couple times a week and on the weekends maybe twice a day. It’s nice to just have some time to sit together.
— Interview by Chris Rickert