Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Maurice R. Berube

Committee Member

Dwight Allen

Committee Member

Raymond Jones

Committee Member

Steve Tonelson

Committee Member

Jane Hager


In a relatively short history, Public Radio in Hampton Roads has emerged as a most important cultural and educational asset to the urban community. The dynamic growth of the Hampton Roads urban infrastructure is the result of several political, economic, and cultural factors. Public Radio has been one of these factors and has served as a catalyst for change and growth in the community. This case study focuses upon Public Radio stations WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM and the elements which brought about their historical development.

The study presents a history of events that marked the beginning of Public Radio in Hampton Roads. Through reliance on oral histories, media accounts, and other documented sources, a record emerges. Subsequent analysis also points to the impact of Public Radio in development of cultural institutions within the Hampton Roads community. Current research indicates that the nurturing of the arts has a dramatic impact upon development of urban communities.

This study identifies significant elements which brought about the sudden and dramatic growth of Hampton Roads Public Radio. The study also provides a basis for understanding the dynamics of cultural forces in an urban community. The analysis examines not only the development of two community based radio stations, but also a model that emerges when cultural and economic forces combine to create a vital regional endeavor.

Five research questions emerged from the study. The study concludes with several findings, including: (1) WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM are model Public Broadcasting entities and provide a key resource for urban community development. (2) WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM provide urban amplification of issues by broadcasting news and public affairs programs which are significant to the Hampton Roads region. (3) Public Radio stations WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM have had a dramatic impact upon the growth and emergence of cultural arts related functions in the Hampton Roads region. (4) Public Radio stations WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM extend educational offerings to the region through a number of public affairs programs.