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November 9, 2017

Tommy Bruno

Rocking into the Hardship of Recovery

The Greater Akron region is no stranger to addiction issues, and in turn, to creating measures to resolve those issues and to help those in need. As early as 1935, Henrietta Seiberling, daughter-in-law of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company founder F.A. Seiberling, brought Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both admitted alcoholics, to a meeting at Stan Hywet Hall, which resulted in the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Unfortunately today, Ohio leads the country in heroin overdoses.

In 2011, Tommy Bruno, general manager of 91.3 The Summit, a nonprofit radio station with a broadcast area throughout Northeast Ohio, wanted to step in to help. He designed a program called “Rock and Recovery,” which is broadcast every night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the time when people typically tend to slip.

“This (the heroin problem) has been a pandemic in the cities of Akron, Canton, Youngstown . . . We flipped that on its side and said ‘Recovery Rocks,’” Bruno says.

The program was created to get people through tough times, not only with drug or alcohol addiction but also with grief and other personal issues. “As a public broadcaster we felt a responsibility to provide the community with this,” he says. “Whatever addiction, we’re a little bit of sunshine in a cloud.”

Don’t expect to hear “What a Wonderful World” played very often. While the thoughtfully put-together programming focuses on positive messages, real Rock and Roll rules. Artists such as U2 and Todd Rundgren often lead the playlists. The programming is also interspersed with stories and messages from professional healthcare providers, addicts, comedians and family members. The playlists are hand picked, and not associated with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. It was important for Bruno’s staff to be on board with the idea and to use their music expertise to create the playlists: “To dedicate the airwaves to that which we want to help and will help,” he says.

“It mobilizes and supports a regional and national recovery community, and heals through the therapeutic power of music and shared messages of hope and inspiration. That really defines what it is. We have carved out a niche that I would argue is not like any other in the country. Music can be very therapeutic, bonding . . . brightening our days,” he says.

“Rock and Recovery” (91.3 FM) also broadcasts worldwide through its APP, which can be found at rockandrecovery.com.

Non-commercial WAPS 91.3 The Summit FM relies on listener membership donations for much of its annual funding. Additional funding is provided by local and regional businesses and organizations, which underwrite station programming and grant funds from local and regional philanthropic organizations. The station receives a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.—CS

 

Tommy Bruno takes rock to the airwaves to aid in recovery.

 

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