By Bayla Cohen, Intern, Boston University School of Communications

Downtown Worcester is on the rise, and Talk of the Commonwealth, Worcester’s local radio show, is committed to giving Worcester the recognition it deserves.

“Local voices are going away,” Hank Stoltz, the host of Talk of the Commonwealth and founder of Radio Worcester Network, disclosed. Thus, the show is devoted to maintaining a local voice for the city of Worcester.

Why is maintaining a local voice so pertinent? Often, people get their information from large media conglomerates. However, these stations frequently lose a personal connection with their audience. “They are impersonal,” Ben White, the show’s executive producer and the co-founder of Radio Worcester Network, commented about large radio stations. “They tend to focus on maintaining high viewership and less on the citizens they claim to be serving.”

In order to maintain a local voice for the city of Worcester, “All of the show’s information and content is through a Worcester lens.” In fact, the radio show is caller-driven, which allows the people of Worcester to guide the direction of the show. 

Even the physical location of the studio is located in the Green Island neighborhood near downtown Worcester to ensure local accessibility. “We are very accessible,” White noted. They maintain accessibility through their streaming platforms. Talk of the Commonwealth is
available for streaming on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and several
other platforms.

In such uncertain times, it is especially important to know what is going on locally. Local radio stations, such as Talk of the Commonwealth, do a great job of bringing back a sense of community and authenticity. “We are the only guys who can really talk about local news,” Stoltz added.

Hank Stoltz has been a local radio host for more than two decades. “I have been waking-up Worcester for twenty-two years,” Stoltz remarked.

He originally began his journey in radio on WTAG, where he worked as an anchor for ten years. He then had a dream to create his own radio station for Worcester, Massachusetts. Shortly after, he found Ben White, a radio producer with a similar passion to Stoltz for giving Worcester a voice. For several years they worked together to produce Talk of the Commonwealth. The show was originally located in Westborough, working from the WCRN studio. However, they had always intended to find a local space in Worcester to host the show. Fortunately, they found the optimal studio location in downtown Worcester. While the new location is only twenty minutes away from their old space, to Stoltz, “it feels like a world away.”

The studio is spacious, welcoming, and very unique. “We wanted a space to reflect ourselves,” said White. The studio is filled with unique aspects that display Talk of the Commonwealth’s mission to conserve a local voice for Worcester.

For instance, in Ben White’s studio space, there is a large mural of a yellow “smiley face.” In fact, Worcester is home to the “smiley face” as it was created by Harvey Ball in 1963 in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not often you will see a cup collection in a radio studio,” Stoltz remarked. Along with the cups, Stoltz has a collection of bobbleheads of influential people. One of the bobbleheads is Tim Murray, the president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to signify the impact he, and the Chamber, have had on Talk of the Commonwealth.

“I cannot give enough credit to the chamber,” Stoltz commented. His voice filled with passion while speaking on the topic. “Without the Chamber, I am not sure we would have gotten off of the ground,” Stoltz added. After working for WTAG for ten years, Stoltz was unsure of his next move. He knew he loved radio and was passionate about giving Worcester a voice, but he was uncertain about where to begin.

“It was a conversation with Tim Murray on the importance of local media that made the biggest impact,” Stoltz explained. Murray encouraged Stoltz to join the Chamber and turn his dream into a reality. Ever since, Talk of the Commonwealth has been a part of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, attending almost every event, networking, and making a name for themselves. As a business, “If you are not a part of the Chamber, what are you doing?” White concluded.

The Chamber currently partners with Talk of the Commonwealth every morning to inform Worcester on the Chamber’s updates along with Worcester events and happenings. The 12-minute show runs Monday through Friday at 8:45 AM. Additionally, the Chamber has a radio show called “The Voice of Business,” which airs every Wednesday on WCRN from 9 – 10 am which allows its members to share their business updates and events.

To be featured on the Radio Blast or the Voice of Business, please contact Virginia K. Murphy at 508.753. 2924, ext. 240. If you are not a member and wish to hear more about the Chamber’s marketing benefits, please contact Kristen Luna at 508-753-2924, ext. 226.