Regional Community Media and Arts News

By John Murphy

Greetings everyone, I hope the Solar Eclipse treated you well—what a great reminder of our place in the Universe! It has been a very busy month with a lot to share so I will get right to it:

  1. Make Music Day 2024 Friday June 21—make joyous noise everywhere on the Solstice!
  2. Grant award news from The Cultural Coalition—110 Grants for $2.8 Million to the eastern region
  3. The On the Homefront series adds a second radio station in our region on May 23—WICH AM/FM
  4. Local radio at WILI AM/FM is blowing up its weekday talk and information programming

It all started 42 years ago in France. In 1982, Jack Lang and his staff at the Ministry of Culture dreamed up an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free music would be everywhere, all around each city: street corners, parks, rooftops, gardens, and store fronts. And, unlike a typical music festival, anyone and everyone is invited to join and play music or host performances. 

Amazingly enough, this dream has come true. Four decades later, the holiday has spread throughout the world and is now celebrated in more than 1,000 cities in 120 different countries. In recent years, cities across the US have launched their own Make Music celebrations, making this musical holiday a truly national phenomenon. 

Make Music Connecticut offers all residents the opportunity to add a chorus to the rich musical history of Connecticut—host some music or make your own! Or both! Across the state each year, musicians of every kind take to streets, parks, plazas, and porches, from the Long Island Sound to the hills in the North.

Connecticut’s sixth annual Make Music Day in 2023 featured more than 400 free musical performances across fourteen regional chapters, brought together by the Connecticut Office of the Arts to coordinate a diverse day of music-making statewide, open to all.

We invite artists of all ages and genres, amateur and professional alike, to sign up to perform free concerts on June 21 in public spaces throughout the state. Everyone is welcome, and we mean everyone — even if you’ve never touched an instrument before, our thirteen regional organizers will have free music lessons and special hands-on music making opportunities just for you. And if you have a location to offer — a storefront, park, porch, or sidewalk — we invite you to sign up to host musicians on June 21. Just click on your state and local celebration below to get started!

-For Make Music Day history and a global overview with news: 

-Find out what states are doing—just click on Connecticut: 

I share this news in May to give readers enough time to plan head to play with friends or host a gathering. When in doubt just go for it! The June issue will feature a schedule of Make Music Day events.

The Cultural Coalition serving southeastern and northeastern Connecticut is the Connecticut Office of the Arts Designated Regional Service Organization (DRSO) serving 42 towns across our region. A wide range of useful information and resources are available for artists and arts groups at their website

You can register in their database to receive mailings and newsletters to keep you informed of training and grant opportunities. Their website today shared wonderful news about a round of arts grants for the Quiet Corner:

CT Humanities Announces $16 Million in Grant Awards—110 Grants for $2.8 Million to eastern CT

CT Humanities provides general operating support grants to help the state’s museums, cultural, humanities, and arts organizations maintain and grow their ability to serve their community and the public, connect K-12 teachers and students to strong humanities and arts content, and improve their information technology and digital infrastructure. 

110 Grants were awarded to eastern Connecticut for $2,788,900 (in the 42 towns served by the Cultural Coalition). It was very sweet to notice that many award winners have been guests on our WILI Radio program and we look forward to sharing stories about your good work in the coming year. Looking back over recent years it is becoming clear that the post-Covid arts economy in our region is growing and in recovery mode!

 Congratulations and bravo!

Windham County–23 Grants/$137,900


Windham Arts Organization/Ashford Arts Council/$5,000 


Col. Daniel Putnam Association/$8,600 


Canterbury Historical Society/$5,200 

Prudence Crandall Museum/CT State Historic Preservation Office/$5,000 

The Finnish American Heritage Society/$6,000 


Windham Area Arts Collaborative/David Hayes Art Foundation/$9,400 


Eastford Historical Society/$5,200 


Killingly Historical & Genealogical Society/$5,300 


Community Cultural Committee of Northeast Connecticut/$5,500 

Performing Arts of Northeast Connecticut/$7,700 

Pomfret Historical Society/$5,400 


Governor Samuel Huntington Trust/$5,600 


The Thompson Historical Society/$5,700 


Connecticut Eastern Chapter National Railway Historical Society/$6,600


Willimantic Public Art/$5,400

Windham Arts/$8,500

Windham Preservation/$5,100

Windham Regional Arts Council/$5,500

Windham Textile and History Museum/$8,800


Chamberlin Mill /$6,100

Northeast Connecticut Community Orchestra/$5,500

Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities/$5,000

Woodstock Historical Society/$6,100

Tolland County (eastern CT region)—9 Grants/$58, 500 


Coventry Arts Guild/$5,500

Coventry Historical Society/$6,400

Museum of Connecticut Glass/$5,200

Windham Area Arts Collaborative/David Hayes Art Foundation/$9,400


Consonare Choral Community/$6,000

Mansfield Historical Society/$8,400


Stafford Historical Society/$5,400


Eastern Connecticut Center for History Art and Performance/$6,800

Willington Historical Society/$5,400




[Ed Note for Tom: the two original logos I sent had designs with different sizes and scales. I tweaked them individually (horizontal only) for this version to match the different size and scale the best I could. Thanks for doing what you can when you insert them in your final version.]

On Thursday May 23, 2024 at 5 pm, the On the Homefront series will begin broadcasts on a second radio station to extend our coverage from the Windham/Quiet Corner region of the northeast to Norwich and New London in the southeast. With significant reach into the three counties of eastern Connecticut—Tolland, Windham, and New London—we hope to reach an increasing number of the ½ million people who live in more than 40 towns across the region. Connecting local radio with YouTube and mobile channels will make it easier than ever to join us.

-Wednesdays from 5-6 pm on WILI AM 1400 and 95.3 digital FM/Willimantic

-Thursdays from 5-6 pm on WICH AM 1310/FM 94.5/Norwich/New London

For the coming months our priorities will include:

1. Continuing full coverage of the arts community in all its forms across the region.

2. The increasing impacts of recent structural and financial changes to the system of health care delivery.

3. The growing imbalance of our housing market economy and the growth of tenant unions.

4. Direct support for live music in all venues across the region—interviews, tour info, websites.

5. Local and regional governance and development challenges.

Our base of operations and production will continue atWILI in Willimantic, but story coverage and guests will be regionwide. Both radio stations are part of the Hall Communications group serving Connecticut.

Meet a few of our recent guests in the radio house!

[editor note: Tom, I will rely on you placing the images together side by side in your layout version. Thanks!]

Daniela de Sousa from Spiral Arts sponsored a wildly successful Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Covenant Soup Kitchen on April 24. Great weather, great turnout, great soup, the love of our community was flowing!

From a series of features about the newly formed Latino Chamber of Commerce of Windham with VP Luis Morale Torres and a business member Tamara Riera from Jayys Food Truck.

WILI Expands Local Talk Radio Service!

Now on Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm


4-5 pm/My Three with Steve Everett, Columbia First Selectman.

5-5:30 pm/Ravings & Cravings – Ruth Hartunian Alumbaugh, about the eastern CT food scene.

5:30-6 pm/Connecticut East – Brian Scott Smith covers eastern CT entertainment, town, and other events.


4-5 pm/Program still in development with new host.

5-5:30 pm/Hometown Threads – Keith C. Rice puts the radio spotlight on local entrepreneurs with an in-person interview with historic family businesses.

5:30 – 6 pm/The Neighborhood – Former Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge and Anita Sebestyan discuss Windham History and how it relates to current projects and events with local guests.


4-5 PM/Garden Talk with Lisa Napolitano & Len Giddix.

 5-6 PM/On the HomefrontJohn Murphy with weekly community conversations about the arts economy, regional culture, nonprofit news and events, local government issues, health care, and tenant unions.


4-5 pm/The Republic Forum with Jeff Veins & Tom White.

 5-6 pm/Your Body, Your Mind on this Journey called Life – Steven Acevedo on Nutrition & Health topics.


4-5 PM/Homegrown—the regional live music scene with Matt Rupar.

Friday 5-6 pm/Let’s Talk About It: Susan Johnson & Dennis O’Brien on politics and government.

WILI YouTube Channel for all Monday-Friday local talk shows—all programs below are available here: Each program has its own playlist with all the shows. Search on “WILI Radio” and subscribe!

The On the Homefront audio podcast archive is available 24/7. Subscribe to get every new program!

As always, thanks for reading Neighbors and for listening to or watching On the Homefront. I appreciate your interest and support for local media wherever you find it—and I hope you will stay connected with this project and join me in the studio when you have news to share!

Always keep the faith,

John Murphy