Local gospel radio station WNRR is taking a different approach



Two playlists are tacked to a wall above the soundboard in the on-air studio at WNRR 1380 AM.

One is a listing of the top contemporary and gospel songs in the nation. The other is a list of new and independent artists the radio station has added to its rotation.

The desire to support independent artists is one of the things the staffers at WNRR – which took to the airwaves May 2 – believe sets them apart from other area gospel stations.

“We love artist development and supporting independent artists and showing them how to get to this platform,” said general manager Ruben Freemen, holding up the list of national gospel artists.

Independent artists can submit their music to director of music content Dallas Frazier, and, if the songs meet the station’s criteria and are copyrighted, they will be added to the playlist, Freeman said.

Frazier’s New Artist Profile, which airs from 8-11 a.m. every Saturday, spotlights these new artists and gives them some exposure.

WNRR is housed in a station on Carolina Springs Road in North Augusta once owned by ClearChan­nel. Right now, one studio is set up for broadcast and several offices have been refurbished for the administration.

Other studios in the building, which housed different radio stations under the ClearChannel umbrella, are being earmarked for new purposes. One is a production room where commercials are recorded and produced. Another has been converted to a copy room. A third will be turned into an intern studio.

“We believe in training and development, with our staff as well as with college students and individuals from the community who really want to learn radio,” Freeman said.

The station’s target demographic is ages 18-35, a group Freeman said is often overlooked in gospel radio. Most of the employees fit that demographic themselves, with the oldest being 45.

“We’re giving something for that younger generation to have and say, ‘Hey, this is my station,’ ” he said. “We’re always talking about what the young people are doing or not doing – they’re not producing, their pants are sagging, they’re violent – but nobody is giving them a solution. I feel with our music and our diversity in our programming, that will really help bring that generation right around.”

The station also wants to be heavily involved in the community. Many employees emcee community events or are officers in other organizations and plan to be involved in events such as school supply drives and First Friday.

In addition to traditional gospel, the station plays gospel rap and Contemporary Christian artists such as Michael W. Smith and tobyMac. Freeman said about 10 national recording artists have been interviewed as guests at the station, including Earnest Pugh and Arnetta Murrill-Crooms.

Talk radio programs are mostly local, though a couple are syndicated, and encompass a variety of topics that Freeman said are thoroughly researched and informative, not just talking.

“This station provides information from education to health to beauty to fashion to real estate,” public relations director Donna Wesby said.

Wesby also has her own radio show, called Education Matters, from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. She does a ver­sion of the show that airs on WRDW (Channel 12).

Wesby said because WNRR is an AM station, many people might think the signal strength isn’t as good. But the station streams live 24 hours a day from its Web site and has free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, so listeners can tune in and the sound quality is clear.
“You know how Justin (Timberlake) sang about bringing sexy back? We’re bringing AM back,” she said.