WGIV

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WGIV
City Pineville, North Carolina
Broadcast area Charlotte, North Carolina
Branding Streetz 103.3
Slogan Charlotte's New Hip Hop Station
Frequency 1370 kHz
Translator(s) 103.3 W277CB (Charlotte)
First air date late 1940's
Format Mainstream urban
Power 16,000 watts day
450 watts night
Class D
Facility ID 22027
Transmitter coordinates 35°12′45.00″N 80°52′6.00″W / 35.2125000°N 80.8683333°W / 35.2125000; -80.8683333
Owner Frank Neely (operated by Core Communications)
Webcast Listen Live
Website www.streetz1033.com

WGIV (1370 kHz) is a mainstream urban radio station licensed to Pineville, North Carolina, and serves the Charlotte metropolitan area. The station broadcasts at 1370 kHz, and simulcasts on translator W277CB (103.3 FM), which is licensed to Charlotte. WGIV is owned by Frank Neely, but the station is operated by Steve Hedgwood's Core Communications, which owns the identical trimulcast of W233BF/WIPK/WFDR in Atlanta.

This is the second station in the market to use the WGIV call letters, the other being the more well-known 1600 AM frequency (now WBCN at 1660 AM). It was the first station in the market to target the African-American audience.[1]

The first WGIV era (1947–2003)[edit]

History of Black Radio[edit]

The struggle for racial equality in the broadcasting industry was a major concern for African Americans in the 20th century. Since World War II, Black Radio has played a major role in the broader African American racial struggle in the United States. Blacks in the radio industry were largely responsible for the struggle against the Jim Crow employment laws, as well as for counteracting the derogatory stereotypes that Whites had given Blacks on broadcasting media. During the civil rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans in the radio industry played a crucial role in the spreading of awareness and information to their listeners.

The importance of the radio peeked in the early and middle 20th century, when it was the prime source of media for the people. For a long period, this industry, as was most of the Broadcasting industry, was essentially dominated by White people. The first time African Americans were associated with the radio, was when ‘Racial Ventriloquy’ came through as a wave in the industry.[2] Coined by Mel Watkins in 1994, this term encapsulates the mimicry that White entertainers had begun to do to represent Blacks on stage. Although it existed much earlier, Racial Ventriloquy became prominent in the radio, given that the radio only required announcers to mimic the Black dialect and intonation,[3] and not expressions and looks. In a similar fashion, the first few Black announcers in the radio industry – including Jack Coopers, Eddie Honesty, Ed Baker and others, started their careers in the industry mimicking white announcers. This ‘double racial ventriloquy’ had two reasons. Firstly, the African American announcers, new to the industry, wanted to distance themselves from the pervasive version of their dialect that was being used in humor by the Whites. Secondly, they wanted to attract both Black and White listeners to their shows, for commercial purposes.

In the post Second World War era, racial mimicry from White announcers had reached an outrageous level of over exaggeration and mockery. It was in the 1950s and later, that African American jockeys attempted to revive their dialect, and stopped feeling the need to sound ‘White’. It wasn’t easy for this change, most Black announcers and deejays were employed by White stations, and were required to sound ‘White’ and/or bear the brunt of their White counterparts’ mimicry. The foundation of stations such as WBT and WGIV in this period gave ample opportunity for the Blacks to complete the radio vernacular transition.

Foundation of WGIV[edit]

In September 1946, the Publix Broadcasting Service of Charlotte, Inc., owned by Francis Marion Fitzgerald, a progressive White man, made a request to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open a general radio station. The application was withdrawn on grounds that a number of stations covering general topics were already in place in Charlotte. Fitzgerald exploited this fact to propose the concept of a radio devoted to the African-American culture, an unprecedented and bold idea.[4] The major reason he chose this format was because there was no prior radio focused on the African American market, which made it a financial opportunity to explore and utilize. The proposal was, of course, accepted, and thus, in December 1947, WGIV debuted in Charlotte. The African American voice needed to be heard, and it constituted a neglected sector of the radio market that was waiting to be exploited. The fact that the FCC resonated well with these two factors worked well for WGIV, which periodically sought the FCC for help with facilities and other FCC approved things. A Bachelor of Science from Furman University, Fitzgerald served as a communications officer in the United States Naval Reserve. After World War II, he became general manager at WORD in Spartanburg, and soon after joined hands with two other radio veterans to form the Publix Broadcasting Service of Charlotte, Inc. His family had stayed in Charlotte through all his careers, and he had decided that he wanted to be with them, and start a station in Charlotte.

The WGIV call letters unofficially stood for ‘We are GI Veterans’,[5] in reference to the then-completed war.

Popular DJs of the station in the 1950s and 1960s included "Genial Gene" Potts, Chattie Hattie and "Rockin' Ray" Gooding.

In the 1960s, WBT and WGIV were often paired as the driving force from Charlotte, North Carolina editorializing on the race issue that had become prevalent in the area. WGIV, however, came through in history as an exceptional merger of Black and White culture in its region – it chose to integrate differences where others chose to isolate them. This integration was represented in one of their brand symbols – a white hand shaking a black hand.

Integration over separation[edit]

As residents of former member of the Confederacy, the people of Charlotte, of all colors, were not alien to racial tension. Fitzgerald's family belonged to Charlotte, and he grew up watching this tension grow in the region.[6] The making of the WGIV was an important part of Charlotte's transition to a non-racist region, and Fitzgerald foresaw this as something that would be greatly appreciated by people. "My father told me years ago if I was ever to make a success of anything, I must find a definite need, fill it, and fill it well", said Fitzgerald twenty years after the debut of WGIV, recalling its inception as an answer to society's dire need of racial integration.[7] WGIV's success was closely linked to Fitzgerald's personality and his own career. Following the booming initial success of WGIV, Fitzgerald became a major stockholder as well as the president of the Charlotte Radio and Television Corporation, which owned WGIV. This enabled Fitzgerald full power over the structure and running of WGIV, and he was indeed free to fulfill his vision of integrating Black and White listeners through his station. Even then, as with any radio, changing the market from being majority White to having a large focus on Blacks was a slow and steady affair. The idea was not to isolate the two markets, but to have them blend into one another, bringing the communities closer to each other's music. The famous "Chattie Hattie" Leeper, one of the Black deejays at WGIV, recalled the true independence deejays had in selecting music to broadcast. She further recalled that the public could not categorize WGIV music as either White or Black.[8] Avoiding racial or generic categorizations, like Fitzgerald's proposal to the FCC, played a dual role for WGIV. It allowed listeners to be exposed to genres easily associated with opposing races, and also ensured that a major portion of White youths in the region continued to make up the WGIV market as its focus slowly shifted to the Black community.

Fitzgerald's concept of integration did not stop there. He made key administrative decisions that gained the Black community's faith as being one of their own representations. At the time, it was uncommon for African Americans to be assigned executive positions as well as other technical or professional positions. Fitzgerald went against this in a number of ways – he put up famous deejays Leeper and Eugene "Genial Genes" Potts high up in the team as Women's Affairs Director and Director of Public Affairs respectively, he assigned a number of other African Americans such positions, and even hired one of the country's first Black radio engineer – Uriah Gooding. The driving idea behind these moves was to give onlookers a sense of the power that African Americans were gaining in the industry. WGIV had become a symbol of the "coming era of racial harmony and progress".

The WGIV deejays, influenced by their boss’ drive for racial equality, largely worked in harmony. Leeper stated in an interview that they "all did everything together, the blacks and whites at the station" and that their office family was so well integrated that the ongoing rage against the Jim Crow segregation laws was "Greek to them".[9] The office collaboration that the deejays had resulted in something extremely stylistic of WGIV, and something that greatly affected the public perception of the radio – both White and Black radio announcers from WGIV had extremely similar styles of presentations, delivery and voice. Thus, "rapper vernaculars" and "sophisticated accents" had begun to sound the same. Leeper stated that deejays sounded polished and spoke with good diction, irrespective of their race, both characteristics not associated with the stereotypical Black vernacularism of the time.[10]

Leeper felt that the Black community had faith in the White leadership in Charlotte. They believed that they would live up to their reputation of being progressive with racial issues. This peaceful collaboration, Leeper felt, was the reason that Blacks did not need to take to the streets in protest, an important aspect of the integration of the two races.[11] In the midst of their struggle to be identified as equal in society by the White counterparts, the African Americans were susceptible to comments and speeches that spoke against them. Therefore, it was important for Whites that were supporting racial integration to publicly accept and show their outright support. Fitzgerald played an integral part in WGIV's role in filling up this identification gap. In July 1953, Fitzgerald was formally recognized by St. Paul's Baptist Church in Charlotte for his "excellent exemplification of unbiased citizenship and high Christian ideals" in his altruistic attempts to integrate African Americans and Whites in the community.[12] Such praise for a White moderate pursuing their progressivism gave confidence to the Black community, and supporting WGIV made complete tactical sense to the Blacks fighting for rights at the time. Fitzgerald and Potts maintained an extremely close friendship and the former never failed to publicly celebrate the latter, also WGIV's star attraction in its prime. Fitzgerald's comments such as "Gene is not only credit to the Negro race – he is credit to a truly great America" became known expressions of white-black cooperation and dialogue.[13]

Beyond tackling the identity issue that the Blacks were facing, Fitzgerald and WGIV gave rise to empowering Charlotte's African American Community in multiple ways. WGIV financed African American businessmen along with the federal SBA (Small Business Administration) to six-week schools over many years, and co-sponsored a Business Management Institute at Carver College in 1957, where Gene served as one of main conveners.[14]

Later years and decline[edit]

In the late 1960s, amidst an atmosphere of rising Black power, many young African Americans in Charlotte became skeptical of WGIV's stated ethos of biracial cooperation. The key issue that brought uproar was Fitzgerald's race. Rising Black youths were angry at the fact that Charlotte's principal Black Radio stations was technically White owned. They spoke of being exploited by this White ownership, and demanded a union that would secure their jobs.[15] The veterans of WGIV, including Leeper, Gene, Fitzgerald himself and others knew that the setting up of such a union would instill mistrust in the staff and completely break the bas upon which WGIV had been built. As Leeper felt, the rationale of these uprising youth was not the fault of WGIV. They had not been used to stable jobs, and certainly not used to the idea that a White president would be treating White and Black employees equally.[16]

By 1982, the Suburban Radio Group, owners of urban rival WPEG (97.9 FM), bought WGIV and gradually began moving programming from the AM side to FM. The two would often simulcast, and both would target a diverse African-American audience. For two years ending in 1985, WGIV aired the Class AA Charlotte O's baseball team.[17]

By late 1990, WPEG and WGIV were in a full-time simulcast.[18] In 1991, WGIV flipped to urban gospel; a year later, WGIV flipped to the satellite-fed Urban AC service The Touch.[19] In 1993, Broadcast Partners, Inc. (BPI) purchased both stations from Suburban. Later that year, BPI also purchased Gastonia-licensed WCKZ from the Beasley Broadcast Group and launched a current-based Urban AC format under the calls WBAV-FM to that frequency in January 1994.[20] WGIV would then change call letters to WBAV on February 11, 1994.

In July 1995, BPI would merge with Evergreen Media. In December 1996, Evergreen would swap WGIV (and their 4 other stations in the Charlotte market) to EZ Communications, owners of WSOC-FM and WSSS (Evergreen would receive EZ's Philadelphia stations WIOQ and WUSL in return).[21] In May 1997, due to low ratings, WBAV changed formats to Urban contemporary gospel and re-adopted the WGIV call letters on May 23.[22] In July of that year, EZ Communications would merge with American Radio Systems. ARS would then merge with Infinity Broadcasting on September 19, 1997.

The station remained unchanged for nearly a decade, until 2003, when Infinity surrendered the WGIV license in favor of an expanded band frequency on 1660 AM. The new station was given the call letters WFNA and paired with WGIV's co-owned sports outlet WFNZ. Therefore, the 1600 frequency went silent in Charlotte after nearly 56 years of continuous service on at 11:59 PM on November 30, 2003.[23]

1370 history[edit]

The current incarnation of WGIV started as daytimer WLTC in the late 1940s, and was licensed to serve Gastonia. For the majority of the station's existence, WLTC aired country music and Southern gospel. A midday gospel show was hosted by Tillie Lowery. After 25 years of hosting the program, Lowery retired in 1995.

In the late 1980s, WLTC was acquired by Ford Broadcasting in China Grove. The format would go full-time Southern gospel.

In 1998, Ford sold the station to current owner Frank Neely, who owned WGCD. WLTC would change formats to urban gospel.

Second WGIV era (2005–present)[edit]

On September 16, 2005, WLTC would change call letters to the then-discarded WGIV. Shortly afterwards, WGIV would relocate their tower to a location southwest of Uptown Charlotte, and would be relicensed to Pineville. For the next 8 years, the station would air a full-service format aimed towards African-Americans, usually with urban gospel in mornings, talk shows in middays, and Urban AC music in the afternoon and evening hours. WGIV would acquire the W277CB translator in 2010.

On March 30, 2014, WGIV changed formats to mainstream urban, branded as "Streetz 103.3." [24] The full-service urban format moved exclusively to wgivcharlotte.com. The station will compete against WPEG, who hasn't had a competitor since December 2010, when Rhythmic-formatted WIBT flipped to a more Mainstream Top 40 direction. WGIV received new competition in August 2015, when WQNC relaunched their hip hop-intensive mainstream urban format.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kay McFadden, "Museum Tunes in History of Radio in the Carolinas", The Charlotte Observer, September 21, 1997.
  2. ^ Mel Watkins, On The Real Side (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994)
  3. ^ William Barlow, Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio (Temple University Press, 1999)
  4. ^ Brian Ward, Radio and the Struggle for civil rights in the South: Chapter 8 (University Press of Florida, 2004)
  5. ^ http://edmyers.blogspot.com/2006/10/wgiv-radio-in-charlotte-nc-in-50s.html
  6. ^ Brian Ward, Radio and the Struggle for civil rights in the South: Chapter 8 (University Press of Florida, 2004)
  7. ^ Francis Fitzgerald, quoted in Jarrett, Broadcasting, 78
  8. ^ Hattie Leeper, Interview with Sonja Williams, April 22, 1995, BR
  9. ^ Hattie Leeper, Interview with Sonja Williams, April 22, 1995, BR
  10. ^ Brian Ward, Radio and the Struggle for civil rights in the South: Chapter 8 (University Press of Florida, 2004)
  11. ^ Hattie Leeper, Interview with Sonja Williams, April 22, 1995, BR
  12. ^ Brian Ward, Radio and the Struggle for civil rights in the South: Chapter 8 (University Press of Florida, 2004)
  13. ^ Francis Fitzgerald, What I know about Gene in Program for Genial Gene Day
  14. ^ Edward Brown, letter to Fitzgerald, October 22, 1957.
  15. ^ Brian Ward, Radio and the Struggle for civil rights in the South: Chapter 8 (University Press of Florida, 2004)
  16. ^ Hattie Leeper, Interview with Sonja Williams, April 22, 1995, BR
  17. ^ Jeff Borden, "WSOC Drops the Braves to Broadcast Charlotte O's", The Charlotte Observer, January 31, 1986.
  18. ^ Tim Funk, "Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Radio Stations Are Bustling with Activity", The Charlotte Observer, December 14, 1991.
  19. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/90s/1992/Billboard-1992-01-11.pdf
  20. ^ Tim Funk, "Station Targets Black Adults with New Format, Ownership", The Charlotte Observer, January 26, 1994.
  21. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1990s/1996/R&R-1996-12-06.pdf
  22. ^ Kay McFadden, "Plugged In – Black Charlotte Radio Flourishes by Remaining Tuned in to the Community", The Charlotte Observer, October 26, 1997.
  23. ^ Mark Washburn, "Black Radio Dynamo Fades Away – WGIV's Sound Transformed From R&B to Gospel to Silence", The Charlotte Observer, December 3, 2003.
  24. ^ https://radioinsight.com/blog/headlines/netgnomes/88206/urban-battle-coming-to-charlotte/

External links[edit]