One of the many WRIR volunteersEvery weekday a WRIR board operator (board op) takes you through the day’s news and public affairs programs. These volunteers are masters at multi-tasking. In a two-hour shift, your friendly WRIR board op pulls up a show from the satellite feed, downloads the latest episode of the day’s WRIR-produced program, does live readings of PSAs and even answers the phone when you call to find out more about the program played. Guiding them along is Bree, our volunteer board op manager. Bree trains and schedules this dedicated crew. Learn more about Bree and why she brings you the news and public affairs programs you love.

How did you hear about WRIR? The first time WRIR took a solid spot in my mind was during last year’s spring fund drive. I was sitting in the car a lot and the combination of the volunteers talking about how much they loved WRIR and all the music being played really piqued my interest.

Why did you decide to volunteer for WRIR? I graduated in May, from VCU’s English department. I was looking for something to apply my degree to. Radio storytelling has always been a favorite medium of mine. When I first moved to the states I listened to Prairie Home Companion every Sunday, and later on I really enjoyed the podcast Welcome To Nightvale. WRIR presented itself as the perfect opportunity to learn everything I can about radio, with the chance to put something of my own on air.

What have you learned about yourself while volunteering at WRIR? I quit a horrible job right before I started volunteering with WRIR. I was bullied and harassed constantly for my gender, and the people around me did not share any of the same attitudes. It was deeply demoralizing. WRIR taught me that it does not have to be that way. I can do something that I love that aligns with my own sense of duty and morals. I know there is a community of people inside and outside of the station who love Richmond. They put all of their energy into making Richmond an empowered place driven by its own residents.

Tell us about some of the board ops? How do they reflect WRIR’s mission to air underrepresented news, views and music to build cultural diversity in Richmond? WRIR is built solely on dedicated people. And it takes dedication to be a good board operator. Even if that’s the only thing you do at the station. There are board operators who are students or recent grads like me. We have older members of the Richmond community. We have activists and mothers. Every kind of person is or can be a board operator. A lot of radio stations don’t use board operators anymore; the pre-recorded programing is streamed directly. Without board operators in the studio, WRIR would lose those familiar personalities, and voices coming from all these different people trying to maintain a stellar radio station just for Richmond. I think it is very important to WRIR’s mission that board operators put our morning shows together, and talk directly to the Richmond public.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in volunteering at WRIR? My first little bit would be patience. I took a while for me to get my board-operating shift, but as soon as I did I fell in love with it. It is a volunteer run station and everyone is doing their best, so it is important to keep in mind that we operate as quickly as we can. And we always want more volunteers!

If you are curious about being a WRIR weekday board operator, Bree would love to learn more about you. She says it’s simple to be a board operator. You go to and hit the volunteer button. Tell us about yourself. You can type that you want to be a board op. Filling out the volunteer application will send your information directly to our volunteer coordinator who will then forward it to Bree.