WAVO asks for donations to maintain radio format

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  • Posted In: Charlotte

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    It can be done, if the music is good. Look to Bob Bittner here in New England, who accepts listener donations to run WJIB 740 Cambridge/Boston, WJTO 730 Bath, Maine (and translator W252BT) and WFAU 1280 Gardiner, Maine. All three stations run a standards/oldies type format. It’s pretty good, too!


    The longer this thread runs, and the deeper we see into some of the circumstances around WAVO, I am not convinced this is the ideal candidate to be the poster child for future broadcast innovations, but it does give us a chance to discuss “what could the future look like.”

    We have a lot of traditions and expectations about broadcasting. What those are depend a lot on where we grew up…. and when. If you grew up in the Northeast in a place where “city” was your experience, that first radio maybe gave you a dream about escaping a poor, crowded, rough-and-tumble kind of life where neighbors were just too close. If you grew up in the rural, uncrowded farm and ranch country of the Midwest and the West, that first radio maybe gave you a dream about escaping the isolation, the nosiness of neighbors who knew too much, and the expectation that life would always be involved in or only one step removed from shoveling manure out of the barnyard on a regular basis.

    For your community to get it’s first radio station was a sign that the Depression was moving into history as was World War II. Radio was a ‘front burner’ then as Smartphones are today.

    But… we no longer live back in the day. We need a new genre of radio. We need a new paradigm for radio.

    Yes, Mr. Bitner may be a pioneer in turning us that direction. The folks who operate WAVO could end up being a “soldier in the trenches” as localized radio engages in a war for survival.

    What is the formula? Who knows! Can listeners and would-be listeners play a role? Who knows! Should government try to develop an incubator atmosphere for such change… or should government stay as far from the experiment as possible? Who knows!

    But having a station owner trudging up and down Main Street selling a package of 30 announcements on the radio this week for a dollar-a-holler is probably not part of the NEW vision of localized radio. BUT….. Who knows!


    WAVO has 5000 watts day and flea power at night, basically a daytimer. The signal isn’t great. It’s a computer in a closet. The music was obtained from Dial Global, they used to be on the bird but when Dial Global went more contemporary they got off. I don’t know what they are doing now but it’s not very hit oriented. I know a bit about the music having worked for standards stations and MOR stations for much of my career. I usually enjoy the format but I pass on what they are doing.

    Facing retirement age in a few years myself, I know that I won’t have money to throw away on a down and out radio station. I doubt anyone else will either. The article may serve another purpose. To let everyone know the format is going away. They have done the simulcast with WHVN before. I’d give it a couple of months at the most.

    They didn’t get their music from Dial Global. It was Jones. Dial Global took over Jones and while they made America’s Best Music more traditional, WAVO kept the music that Jones had been doing, based on what was said on the other site. Someone believed they had the Jones playlist in a computer. It’s a great mix of music, even better than America’s Best Music, with a lot of less familiar versions of songs. I don’t have the money to support it and I can’t really pick it up at home but I listen when I can.


    MOR/Nostalgia/Standards is a near-death format.

    The satellite channels that used to offer it, Original Hits and MOYL, have morphed into Classic AC. Apparently that’s why WAVO stopped taking a satellite feed.

    Likewise Oldies, which has morphed into classic hits most places but hangs on in some markets filling the demographic niche that standards filled in the 90s.

    There’s also the challenge inherent in trying to program music on a rim-shot AM, with possible interference from a nearby flame-thrower (using IBOC).

    There is an opportunity for listener-supported radio – public radio, particular. People pledge money to public television for Lawrence Welk and other standards/nostalgia shows, even if they watch nothing else – no documentaries, no Brit Coms. I’m surprised more public radio stations haven’t embraced standards. I would not be surprised if pledge rates are much higher for standards than for classical, jazz or alternative. Old people may not be a good target for most advertisers but it appears they are willing to pledge.


    I should mention that when the Jones format started critics on the other site said it was just another format that included AC. WAVO does, but unlike America’s Best Music, it has a standards format where AC is an occasional treat. And in a market where the one AC sounds ridiculous when they try to play Hall and Oates, since it just doesn’t fit, this is certainly welcome.

    The clock radio that comes on each afternoon at 3 for Mike Huckabee (on an America’s Best Music station some Charlotte listeners might be able to hear) came on and I heard The Captain & Tennille and Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now”, as well as “Take Five”. When you hear “Take Five”, that music is just too good not to have. WFAE has an HD channel, but that’s HD.

    It’s a little premature to say that this station where I hear Mike Huckabee is a success story. The new owner is Catawba College and they will be using the station for training students. But we have been promised no changes. The article doesn’t mention the satellite format for some reason, though.

    This is how you make a standards station a success.



    Ok V you win, it was Jones not Dial Global I was close though. I couldn’t remember if it was before DG took over or shortly after. I liked when the format had personality hosts and I even exchanged some nice emails with one of the hosts.

    The College says no changes huh? Wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that. I really hope it’s true but don’t be surprised if they sneak in more and more subtle changes over time.

    I was very disheartened back when reports about Andy Williams failing health came out and I had to explain to my co-workers who are in their 30’s and 40’s who Andy Williams was. They had no idea and argued with me as to his status as a “famous person” they should know. I was shocked and dismayed by this.

    The pocket of listeners who know and enjoy standards is clearly dying off. I’d get some CD’s of Adult Standards music rather than give my money to a radio station. Even though you and I would like it to WAVO as we know it won’t last.

    As for College kids working at WSAT they will push to get the music they like on to the playlist. The College will expect to make some kind of profit from owning the station, at least enough to make it pay for itself.


    WSAT a college station, owned by a college where you don’t need good SAT scores? It would make more sense to have a Harvard-owned station with those calls. (And KSAT owned by Stanford.)


    I heard “Sunrise Serenade” yesterday. That’s part of what makes this station so distinctive. It’s like another world when a song like that is playing.

    On the other hand, America’s Best Music played “Dream Along with Me” and Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” this morning. Both of them seem almost as out of character in today’s world.


    I heard “Sunrise Serenade” yesterday. That’s part of what makes this station so distinctive. It’s like another world when a song like that is playing.

    On the other hand, America’s Best Music played “Dream Along with Me” and Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” this morning. Both of them seem almost as out of character in today’s world.

    Now your just messing with us. A big band song from 1939 vs vocals by 2 artists that performed well into the ’60’s and in the case of Como into the ’70’s…..really? I like all of these songs but they are all out of character in todays world and that’s not such a bad thing.

    If it were my station the music would be from 1948-forward. The Big Band songs would only be heard in speciality shows but it isn’t my station so you have nothing to worry about! 🙂


    I like all the songs. I’m just saying one of the stations is playing a lot of AC and oldies, and yet they hang on to these songs that sound so out of place, which is a good thing. Though nothing is from the 40s except at Christmas. Then there’s the station which still plays some actual big band era music where AC and oldies are a rare treat.


    Tom Gentry had an update earlier this week while I was listening but the recording was surely outdated, since we’re more than halfway to the deadline. The station had a little over half the money it needed after half the time had gone by.


    I didn’t hear an update yesterday but this must be good news: instead of William Bennett before 9, I heard William Joel.


    They met the goal.


    Now that’s some good news!


    Something I didn’t know before this past weekend is that Tom Gentry, who runs WAVO, is an elder at Calvary Church. One of their members was one of the missionaries who got Ebola but got better. I was seeing only the second part of the article at the time and haven’t found the front page where it begins, but the church is dealing with some controversy, which has happened from time to time over the years. In this case, it was related to Gentry’s other stations (someone in New Orleans owns them) because whoever the article was about, when he still worked for Calvary, he recorded a show that aired on those other stations. WHVN Heaven Radio simulcasts on all the stations other than WHVN which were listed in the article, and WAVO used to.

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