Baylen with the Open Source RVA crew

Standing in the crowd among hundreds of other people at WRIR’s 15th Anniversary Birthday Bash on February 1, 2020, Baylen Forcier did not expect any special recognition. But when he was chosen that night as WRIR’s Volunteer of the Year, he was surprised to hear his name. “I felt very proud,” he said of the moment, and humbly remarked, “I try to do a little bit of everything and help out whenever I can.”

Recognizing Baylen’s ongoing commitment to WRIR was an obvious choice when you look at his history with the station. He was working at The Cask when he first got involved as a producer for “Open Source RVA” in 2014. “The main producer had just left for another radio station, and even though there were some students working on the show, I felt I had the time, experience, and skills to really make it work.” After taking some time off for grad school, Baylen returned to WRIR in 2018, where he joined numerous committees.

Production hangouts—the weekly Saturday meetings devoted to making WRIR’s promos and PSAs, and to developing general skills in radio production—is one of Baylen’s main commitments. This is an opportunity to teach newcomers what WRIR is all about, while also meeting up with volunteers to make original content for the station. “I see my role here is to maintain stability and to improve stability” in the station’s programming, he said.

Perhaps his most pressing commitment is the fundraising committee, where Baylen was recently elected co-chair, along with fellow WRIR volunteer Chris Bernhardt. “This was the first committee I was involved with, and I was excited for it because we pick the [fund drive] T-shirts.” But having an impact on the financial direction of the station provides him with an interesting perspective, he said. “We’re a unique organization in that we don’t seek to expand every year. We aim to provide a broadcast service, stream over the air and on the internet, and pay our rents for what we need to do. All the rest is surplus.”

With the Spring 2020 Fund Drive just around the corner, and all the upheaval brought on by Covid-19, “We’ll really have to get creative with this drive. Because the fund drive really is devoted to all the extra pieces and events” such as bands playing live in the studio and the food donated by our great local restaurants. Baylen believes that WRIR’s special niche in the Richmond community will be what makes this another successful year.

“At the basics, WRIR is trying to be an expression of the community, but also a receiver of the community. It’s so unique and so rare to have a direct feedback loop with the community. It’s not filtered by someone at the top making a million dollars, or someone who owns the means. We own the means. It’s our station. That’s our basic service, broadcasting and streaming. So we need your support. We are funded by our listeners, and we want to continue spreading the messages of our community. And it’s a more important time than ever to have a little pulse, and to feel the pulse, of what’s going on in town.”