Featured Show: the 21st Annual Homelessness Marathon

The #HomelessnessMarathon is a unique radio program that gives homeless people and their allies a chance to speak with the nation about their experiences. This year’s broadcast will originate from WMBR’s studios in Cambridge, MA on July 24th 2019. We’ve broadcasted the Marathon for many years and are thrilled to be able to host and help produce the event this year!

For this featured show interview, we talked to two of the people helping to make this year’s Marathon happen: Jeremy, the founder of the Homelessness Radio Marathon, and Linda, WMBR News Director and the main coordinator of this year’s Marathon from WMBR’s side of things. We hope that you’ll tune in from 10 a.m. to midnight on July 24th!

* Jeremy, what inspired you to start the Marathon?

JEREMY: It was nothing glorious. I had the last local show on at night on my radio station in upstate NY, and the station manager told me I could go on all night if I ever wanted to do a longer broadcast. When I heard the words “all night,” to me, it was like he was saying I could have my weight in gold, and I wanted to do a show about something that mattered to me. I had had my own personal form of homessness, but beyond that, as far as I was concerned homelessnessness was emblematic of everything that ought to be better in America. That’s an opinion, by the way, that hasn’t wavered a bit over the past couple of decades.

* Linda, how did you first get involved in the Marathon?

LINDA: My first Homelessness Marathon was in 2001. Jeremy reached out to WMBR, told us that he was working with local homeless organizations and asked if WMBR would be the host station that year. We got an enthusiastic go-ahead from station management. The Marathon was different then. It was overnight in the dead of winter, and they set up a makeshift broadcast booth outside the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, just outside Harvard Square. For 14 hours, they had guests sitting with them in the booth, other guests calling in by phone, and an open mic so people on the streets could just walk up and speak to the nation. I had the honor of co-hosting the program from 4-5 am, in the freezing cold! It was inspiring. Since then, WMBR has aired the Marathon almost every year. We’re thrilled that it’s coming back to town!

* What has it been like working together to make this year’s broadcast happen?

JEREMY: The crew at WMBR has been sensational to work with. These are committed people who know what they’re doing, and it’s made the whole process a lot easier for me, and I hope it will also make a great broadcast for the audience.

* What are you most excited about regarding this year’s broadcast?

LINDA: I’m excited by the incredible range of people who are going to be joining us this year. We’ll be speaking with social justice organizers, social science researchers, planners, politicians, and most importantly, people who have experienced homelessness or the threat of homelessness. There’s so few opportunities to hear from people living on the margins of our society. They need to share their stories, and we all need to hear them if we want to understand what’s happening in our country.

* Any words to listeners as we approach the Marathon broadcast date?

JEREMY: Actually, I can save listeners the trouble of listening by just telling them the message of the broadcast now. It’s simply that homeless people are just like housed folks, as American citizens they have the same rights, and as a society, we should immediately address and solve their situation. Am I giving too much away? I don’t think so. People still watch World War Two movies and we all know how that ended. The joy of listening to the broadcast is that it brings you into human realities we’re normally shielded from, and there’s a lot of us who want to know about this world.

You can tune in to the Homelessness Marathon on WMBR 88.1FM from 10 a.m. to midnight on Wednesday, July 24th, 2019. Visit homelessnessmarathon.org for more information, including other affiliate stations. Join the Facebook event to keep up with the broadcast.

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