Opinion

WAA Radio’s mission: Remember, honor, teach

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Susan Patten is full of surprises. We’ve known each other through various incarnations in Maine’s news business. Mostly, Susan was a radio news broadcaster; I was communications director for legislators or political campaigns.

So I was surprised years ago to learn, like me, Susan’s “passion” is music. She has her own nonprofit — “The Gifts of Music” — “to keep music education and performance alive for Maine youth.”

She is also a big band swing and jazz singer.

And Susan’s a force behind the Wreaths Across America (WAA) Radio online streaming radio station.

I know about National Wreaths Across America Day (December 15) with its convoy to lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, but Susan Patten reminded me, “Wreaths Across America is not just about a one-day event in December as much as it is a year-long mindset.”

The Columbia Falls, Maine 501 (c)(3) nonprofit has “activities throughout the year,” said Susan, “remembering our fallen heroes, and particularly honoring those who serve and their families, and supporting other like-minded nonprofit organizations.”

WAA’s network connects millions of volunteers nationwide. That’s possible, in large measure, through social media, a monthly newsletter, and WAA’s recent use of streaming radio hosted through Maine Internet Radio, LLC. WAA Radio works just like streaming music services Pandora and Amazon Prime.

Where you can connect to the internet you can listen to WAA Radio.

Radio streaming broadcast technology is affordable and compact. Producing successful radio streaming is helped when a business has on board someone with broadcast know-how who is aligned with the business mission. Someone like Susan Patten. Along with her career in media, she also “taught [broadcast journalism] at Husson University and New England School of Communications for about eight years,” she said.

Today, Susan describes herself as “a storyteller as a journalist. I have amassed skill sets allowing me to say I’m a multimedia journalist working in broadcast, print and the web.” But, “my absolute love is radio. I think it’s a very powerful storytelling [and great entertainment] medium mixed into one format,” she said.

Susan connected with Wreaths Across America as a freelance journalist while producing a WAA story. “The organization saw some of my writing and stories and felt very strongly that I really understood their mission and embraced it well with my storytelling,” she said. That led to Patten shooting some WAA still photos and writing WAA blog posts. She used about 10 percent of her time producing “a couple of stories” for WAA Radio.

Enter serendipity.

Susan said, “Folks at WAA realized some of my real strong [stories] were in radio.” Meanwhile, WAA Executive Director Karen Worcester “wanted to do a talk radio show.” In March 2018, by combining Patten’s radio skill and Worcester’s dream, WAA Radio introduced its “Mission Matters” talk show, where Karen speaks with [military] members, veterans, dedicated volunteers, and other special guests about the importance of WAA’s mission to remember, honor and teach,” Patten said.

WAA Radio is just getting started with its music and talk programming. Susan said, “If organizations serving military veterans and their families have a pre-produced 30- or 60-second public service announcement, we’d be more than happy to place that in our rotation.” Live broadcasts, and shows with regular hosts are doable. And Patten is planning this year’s version of her “Updates from the Road” broadcasts while traveling in December with WAA’s Arlington convoy.

Listeners will find WAA Radio online, and through iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, and Simple Radio.

Patten said, “We’re really putting patriotism out there again which I also think makes us very unique. You’re going to always find us staying true to [our] mission: remember our fallen heroes, honor those who currently serve and their families. Most importantly, to teach younger generations [about] the value of freedom and the sacrifices made to preserve our [country’s] liberties,” she said.

WAA Radio Online: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/radio

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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