Scan the radio dial on any summer road trip, and you will find no shortage of talk radio programming. Whether conservative, liberal, or somewhere in-between, there are always plenty of people who are willing to share their opinions and their experiences about the events and issues of the day.
If you happen to be driving through Philadelphia, however, there’s a chance you’ll stumble across a program unique in the talk radio arena.
When WPPM FM (106.5), a low-wattage station servicing specific urban areas in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, begins programming next week, it will include a show hosted by four former prisoners, focused on issues surrounding reentry. It is believed to be first show of its kind in the nation.
“If there’s a way to use this radio program to show people that people who come out of prison are not scary, dangerous, violent, aggressive people … I think that would be a really positive outcome,” says Vanessa Graber, who will be producing the program.
Faith Bartley, one of program’s hosts, speaks from experience. After serving time for selling drugs, Bartley has been out of prison for nearly 10 years, but she still remembers the challenges that come when attempting to return. “Who better to speak about recidivism?” she says in an interview with newsworks.org. “Being in the penal system, about coming home trying to start all over again, and I find myself back in it—I’m an expert at that.”
The program promises to be as much therapy for the hosts as will be assistance for their listeners. Michelle Scales—”Miss Me” when on the program—is currently living in a halfway house after spending more than a year in detox. “It’s like when you have a sinus cold and you’re all clogged up,” Scales says about her time taping the program. “It’s like when I go in there, I can breathe.”
“Hopefully, these women will live in a house that they dream of and that that moment in time when they were struggling is recorded in history so they can look back on it and reflect and kind of see it as a sign of growth,” Graber says.
Prison Fellowship partners with churches, faith-based organizations, and service agencies across the country as they help to provide men and women like Michelle and Faith a path to success. To learn more about you can help support former prisoners as they begin their lives after incarceration, click here.