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WRWW 92.3 The Boat flies into the future with The LowelLife oral history podcasts

by Emma Palova

contributing reporter

So, you think listening to the radio on your way to work and back is for music only? Think twice. With the rise of the Internet, podcasts or audio magazines have been trending on most social media platforms, since they can be added to websites and blogs.

With the slogan “We’ve gotcha covered,” the Lowell radio station or The Boat at WRWW 92.3 has also jumped on the podcast Internet freeway expanding its programming with regular podcasts in different categories such as: the Sizzlin' Summer Concerts, the Lowell City Council, For the Record, In the Spotlight, sports, We’ve Got Talent, Lowell Area Schools concerts, Cultural Connections and much more.

However, most recently the radio station in conjunction with the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) added the oral histories project, The LowelLife. The ambitious project was originally started by Mark Weber as a project telling the stories of veterans. They were first recorded on VHS tapes and then converted to DVD’s.

“We have 50 oral histories on DVD's at the museum,” said museum board member Ardis Barber. “A lot of them are VHS.”

With the progress of technology, the LAHM oral history team including Carolyn Jane Blough, Dale Kropf, Barber and Tina Cadwallader added The LowelLife show to The Boat radio programming this year. The show airs once a week on Sundays at 8 p.m.

“Dale Kropf, who is the videographer, converts the files and Al Eckman proceeds to put them on the radio,” said Barber.

Kropf takes the recorded DVDs, downloads them and converts them into a MOV file to change it into an audio file four to six files at a time, while editing them for a better audio experience.

“It’s so much fun to learn about the history and personal stories,” Kropf said. “It’s all the little things you don’t know about.”

Coming up are stories of restaurant owner Rose Fonger, 90, owner of Rosie’s Diner for 20-some years and Jim Hall.

Already featured has been car dealer Duke Thomet, among others.

“We have some great stories of their childhood that you don’t hear about,” Kropf said. “We all bought cars from Duke.”

According to Cadwallader, Thomet supplied vehicles to pick up entertainers for the Showboat; his only daughter drove a different Corvette to high school every year.

Also lined up are stories about the showboat and business people who lived in Lowell like Chuck Lippert, the owner of a chain of drugstores who was involved with the showboat.

“Not everyone is interested in doing these,” said Barber. “We have copies of the interviews for the families.”

Sometimes the interviews are conducted by LAHM staff, Cadwallader or the Lowell High School students.

All the personal stories have close ties to Lowell; from Lowell Township clerk Gladys May Fletcher, Robert Christiansen, the son of William Christiansen of the original soda fountain, King Doyle to policeman William Wood.

“He was a great policeman, but to many of us ragamuffins; a voice of reason and sound advice of the direction us kids needed to take,” Cadwallader said.

Then there are the stories of countless veterans - each with their own story - like WWII veterans Howard Acheson, Richard Bieri, Robert Reagan, and Mary Ann Gwatkins; Korean War veterans John Schneider and Robert Joe Green, Vietnam War veterans Steve Jarmosco (who received a Purple Heart) and Jack Ward.

Eckman, WRWW station manager, said the station has aired about 20 oral histories so far.

“We plan to air every one that we receive from the museum,” he said. “Tina has done a great job with this project, so has everyone else.”

The stories air on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. on WRWW 92.3 and they are about an hour long. The actual DVDs can be checked out at the museum.

“You can listen around the house,” she said. “Hearing their stories that so many of us have memories of. We get to renew our own memories.”

Future plans include stories with Carolyn Jane Blough and Betty Yeiter. Marion Rutherford did an interview about her Fallasburg connection.

“We’re trying to convince people that they need to do this,” said Barber, even if they had business here and then moved.”

Barber was born and raised in Lowell and cherishes her childhood memories.

Also, in the works is the transfer of an interview file with Edwin Roth, the oldest Fallasburg resident, who passed away two years ago.

Kropf said the museum is planning to put photos with the interviewees on their website in the fall.

The link to the oral histories podcasts is: https://lowellradio.org/lowelllife-2/

The link to the Lowell Area Historical Museum website is: http://lowellmuseum.org/

Coming up next: Sept. 8 Dolores Dey and Sept. 15 Arnold de Loof on Sundays at 8 pm on The Boat 92.3 FM.

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