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The Voice of the Black Community


Historic station has a new frequency
WGIV radio looks to add listeners through new FM location
Published Wednesday, August 26, 2009 9:30 am
by Ryanne Persinger

An historically black radio station that has aired on the AM frequency since the 1940s can now be heard on the FM dial.

Atiya Harris, host of “Home Solutions Realty & Finance,” makes a point during her WGIV radio program Tuesday. The addition of an FM signal allows the Christian gospel and talk station to expand its coverage area.

WGIV, Charlotte’s first African American station, made its name with disc jockeys like “Chattie Hattie” Leeper, “Genial” Gene Potts and “Rockin’ Ray” Gooding, now simulcasts on 1370 AM and 103.3 FM.

The addition of the new frequency modulation was launched in July, says Production Manager A.C. Stowe.

“It’s a lower-power FM station,” Stowe said. “But on the FM (signal) you get a better frequency response. Most people don’t listen to music on the AM anymore.”

The station, which plays gospel music and airs talk radio and plugs itself as “the best in information and inspiration,” says with the exception of WPEG, which caters to younger listeners, it is the only local urban radio broadcast in the city.  

“It’s live and local,” Stowe says. “That’s the biggest thing because WBAV, (WPZS) and (WQNC), are all syndicated during the day.”

Of course, there have been some snags along the way. The station says some listeners living in Northern Mecklenburg have had trouble picking up WGIV on FM, but if that is the case they can switch their radio to AM.

“North Charlotte is a challenge, but we’re working out the logistics,” Stowe said.

Going to FM is one of the many changes going on at WGIV, says on-air personality Tonya Rivens.

Stowe, formerly program director at WPZS and WQNC, was recruited by WGIV after he says his position at Radio One was eliminated earlier this year.

“I honestly looked at it as a God send,” Stowe said. “At that time my father was terminally ill and for the next couple of months I had time to see my dad before he passed. Then I ended up (at WGIV).”

Stowe currently hosts the “A.C. Stowe Morning Show,” from 6-10 a.m., with mid-day elements from 10 a.m. to noon; Rivens is on-air during 3-7 p.m. with James “G-Man” Guy on from 8 p.m. to midnight.

“The ultimate goal is to be Charlotte’s radio station,” Stowe says. “We really want to make African Americans in Charlotte feel like this is their station. We have a local owner who is committed to the local community.”

WGIV’s owner, Frank Neely, has owned WGIV for approximately four years.

“We’ve seen the power of God move,” Neely said. “We worked our butt off to get that (FM) station. Now being FM is a miracle.”

The real miracle, Rivens adds, is that everyone at WGIV is faith-based.

“That contributes to the atmosphere and how we approach our operations,” Rivens, who also worked at WPZS, said. “There’s a whole new strategy for the station to position itself. When you get the right team it will all come together.”

Because WGIV is independently owned and doesn’t participate in  Arbitron ratings, which collects audience data, Stowe said he could not provide a number of listeners.

“(WGIV) has had a lot of loyal listeners on the AM for a long time,” he said. “The music sounds a lot better, too.”

WGIV also streams audio on the Internet at www.wgiv.net.


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