Collaboration between Cape Cod and UK resorts reveals similar challenges faced by coastal communities

WCAI in Woods Hole, Mass., is partnering with a community radio station in Falmouth, England, on a collaborative project linking the coastal communities the stations serve with a series of hour-long programs airing on both resorts.

Steve Junker, news editor at the Massachusetts Radio Station, has always known that the towns of Cape Cod and England share names. Looking at them on a map one day last autumn, he began to wonder what problems England’s coastal towns face.

“Because we report a lot on the environment at our station, and we report a lot of big issues that are important to cities in coastal communities where tourism is a big part of the economy, I started to think that they have to share a lot of those same issues,” Junker said.

He started emailing radio stations in England asking if anyone wanted to work on a collaborative project and got a response from Source FM, located in Falmouth, Cornwall, in the south-west of England. From there, Junker and Simon Neild, a director on the Source FM board, began thinking about what a collaboration between their stations might look like.

The project, titled “Falmouth to Falmouth: Connecting Cape Cod to Cornwall,” will begin April 13 with an hour-long broadcast on each station. A second one-hour show is also in preparation. WCAI is also working on a program page on its website that will include photographs and interactive elements.

Each show will feature conversations between people from similar backgrounds in each city. Listeners to the first show will hear grocers talk about how they coped in the early days of the pandemic, young activists discuss environmental issues in both communities and potters reflect on being artisans in economic times. difficult and how they build community.

“I like the idea that we’re sort of on opposite sides of the mirror. Looking at us, we are different but also very similar,” Junker said. “You know, we look at each other from across the Atlantic Ocean, kind of from opposite ends of the Atlantic, but we share a lot of similarities.”

After meeting virtually, Junker and Neild got to work creating a list of top issues and stories they thought were important to their regions. When they spoke after creating their lists, they saw significant overlap.

“When Steve read his list of challenges, I said to him, ‘Are you sure you’re not actually in Falmouth, Cornwall, not Falmouth, Cape Cod, because you just read my list?’ Neild said.For example, both communities are facing the impact of climate change and an increase in short-term rentals for tourists, making affordable housing harder to find for residents.

When creating the project, Junker said, hurdles included planning across time zones and dealing with differences in how stations operate. Because Source FM relies on volunteers instead of dedicated staff like those at WCAI, the UK station has at times struggled to find people to work on the shows.

Both Junker and Neild hope to continue the collaboration beyond the first two broadcasts and are excited about its potential for growth.

“In a way, it’s really a labor of love between the two stations,” Junker said. “We don’t really have a specific budget for that. All of the people who work at our station and who devote their time and energy to it are also journalists who cover their own beats.

Neild said despite the distance between the stations, they share more similarities than differences.

“There’s a lot of water between us, but at the end of the day, you know, we’re all human beings, we’re all the same,” Neild said. “We all face similar challenges in life, and if we can tackle them side by side, that must be a good thing.”

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