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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Give a Hoot; Read a Book

If the only time you pick up a book is to study for a test, then the Big Read wants to remind you that reading can be fun and recreational, done for pleasure and not just for work. Radio station WUMB received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help spread that message.

Recognizing significant declines in reading across age groups, the NEA has sponsored 127 organizations across the country to engage their communities in the joys of a good book. WUMB has chosen Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird, a coming-of-age story that simultaneously tells the tale of a young girl learning to understand a mysterious neighbor and her father’s struggle to defend a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. “The book evokes really strong memories in people,” explained WUMB General Manager Pat Monteith. “We have lots of promotional materials around the radio station and performers that come in see it and say, ‘that was one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read in my life.”

WUMB has enlisted over 36 community partners to spark interest and get people reading the book, including Laboure Center of Catholic Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, high schools, libraries and senior centers. With the money from the NEA, WUMB has been able to provide some partners with mini-grants to conduct their own actives. “The Adams Library has a children’s workshop making dolls, and they’re able to buy the materials so the kids can come in for free,” Monteith said.

UMass Boston is also onboard with events through the Healey Library and Trotter Institute. The bookstore, which has already sold 600 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, will be turning their display window into a Mockingbird theme complete with trees and nests, and also will be holding discussion groups about the book and showing the movie. In March, campus dining services will be featuring a southern cuisine menu entitled “Mockingbird Under Glass” and distributing reading materials.

“It’s all about getting people to read the book,” Monteith explained. “Hopefully, this will make people go and pick up this book, and then once they start reading, they’ll remember how much fun reading is … You never know what’s going to trigger people to remember that reading is fun.”

The Big Read will culminate May 10th with the Mockingbird festival at UMass Boston. Activities include a mock trial, an Audubon presentation about mockingbirds, essay contest readings, and performances of songs written about or inspired by the book, as well as book discussion groups. Montieth stressed that volunteers will be needed for the event. “We’ll need people to help put up posters and show people around who have never been to the campus before.” Those interested can contact WUMB at [email protected].

Although the project has been a huge undertaking and involved a great deal of work, WUMB has already applied for another Big Read grant for next year, with plans to read Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Montieth is very excited about Big Read and eager to expand Boston involvement. “It’s one of my wildest dreams to be able to produce something like this,” she said. “We know we have tens of thousands of listeners, but they’re out there on the other end of a radio dial, and you don’t really see how you impact them. This project, there’s so much tangibility, and it’s just wonderful.”

For a calendar of all the activities included in WUMB’s Big Read, visit www.wumb.org/thebigread or the project’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/thebigreadwumb.