Frank Emspak and Ellen LaLuzerne, Co-producers
Fridays from 5:30-6:00 PM (CST) on WORT (89.9 FM), Madison, Wisconsin
Now entering its 15th year on the air, “Madison Labor Radio” defines its mission as “strengthening local unions, increasing the breadth and depth of media coverage on labor issues, and providing for the information needs of the community.” Co-producers Frank Emspak and Ellen LaLuzerne reach out each week to local and worker activists. Frank notes, “Our mission is clear—to bring to the airwaves the voices of the working people of the WORT listening area. It is not always an all-union issue show. We have interviewed high school students about their work after school, gone to construction sites–especially during the road building season here–and asked the workers what they were doing and why, and of course we do report on legal, contract issues.”
Most recently, “Madison Labor Radio” has provided in-depth coverage of the people’s fight to overturn Governor Scott Walker’s Wisconsin economic agenda—emphasizing community and labor mobilization as well as the effects of the legislation on working people. “We have approached this issue not only from the legal and organizational point of view, but we have tried to get down to the classroom and work site to see what the effects of the law really are.” Programs frequently address significant economic issues,
focusing particularly on “what is happening to the living standards of working people— in all respects—wages, housing, health care, education.” And, Frank adds, “Finally each week we do a calendar; and, since the invasion of Iraq, we have produced a “Casualty Report”.”
“Madison Labor Radio” is an all-volunteer production, utilizing a system of volunteer readers (anywhere from 5 to 12 at any one time). Frank and Ellen have trained a large number of younger people who have gone on to become reporters and media activists or who have found that the program structure helped focus their lives.
Today, Madison Labor Radio stands as the only show of its kind in Wisconsin; and, Frand adds, “I think the fact that it is on WORT demonstrates the tremendous importance that WORT and other visionary stations have in our media landscape.”