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and violence. Promoting an image of degrading women. We try to go against that. There’s so much more that goes into the culture.” Says Carter, “We play the music of the African diaspora. All of the music that we play, the latin music, Jazz, the gospel, the hip hop. We stress positive hip hop. We don’t want to be like that garbage on commercial radio.”

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Connect Savannah 09.06.06







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At the other end of the musical spectrum, jazz and gospel music are long established staples of WHCJ’s programming. Carter and Curry emphasize that gospel music is the foundation for African American music and that the programming is intended to reflect cultural roots but not promote religious beliefs. “We’re not looking at it as a religious program,” says Curry. “We let the programmers know we can’t do religious rhetoric on the air. We have a lot of listeners with different religious backgrounds. A lot of people from different religious backgrounds like gospel music or spirituals.” “A lot of people don’t understand, especially students, the difference between public radio and commercial radio,” Carter says. “While we want to be entertaining, as a radio station on a historically African American campus we feel a special duty to air aspects of black culture not available through traditional media.” Carter, Curry, Renazance and SSU professor Kai Walker participate in a weekly community issues show called Rap Sessions. Each panelist brings in a musical cut to play on the air and after each tune the group discusses any topic that the music provokes. “We talk about all the recent political turmoil, social issues,” says Renazance. “Anything relevant to the black experience but really to the Savannah experience.” As a volunteer over the years, Renazance has learned to appreciate musical styles that are new to him. “As a result of working at this station I listen to Latin music, to African, to blues, which I never did before. After listening to Mr. Carter and some of the stories he wraps around the music, I’ve grown to appreciate it.” Carter gives us a lot of freedom as programmers,” says Renazance. “We cherish the ability to come in and do this. He gives us a lot of flexibility in what we play, that it will be in good taste and that it will be consistent with what the program content is.” The roster of past volunteers reads like a list of Who’s Who in Savannah Media, including local radio personalities April Dobbs, Gerald Arrington (Lil G), and Kenya Cabine, and chief news editor Will Martin. “That’s where we all started,” says radio station E93’s Dobbs. ”Me, Lil G and Kenya Cabine. We’re all full time jocks here at E93 and we all hosted the same show, ‘Tiger Beat,’ at different times. They’re always going to be like home to us.” One of the higher profile station volun-

teers is Dr. Joseph “Pete” Silver, SSU’s Vice President of Academic Affairs who has hosted a weekly community talk show since he joined the university nine years ago. Silver, who retired last week, stopped by the station on his last day to say goodbye. “We’re using this important medium to connect with the community,” says Silver. “We’ve had folks from the State Department, from the White House, we’ve had the mayor and the chief of police on the show.” Silver recounted that at his retirement reception in late August, a former student who is now a university staffer told him “she had heard a program years ago about debt blues. She said it changed her life.” After listening to the show the student changed her spending habits and her career path, eventually becoming an accountant in the university finance office. The station operates on a budget of about $15,000 annually, excluding personnel costs, which Carter describes as “distinctive in being inadequate.” Fees for required licenses, Associated Press news wire subscription, and necessary broadcasting memberships eat up most of those funds. He and Curry are developing a three pronged fundraising strategy familiar to listeners of other public broadcasting media, consisting of on-air underwriting, pledge drives, and off-site special events. Funds will go toward improving equipment and expanding on air time to round the clock all week long. The station broadcasts 24 hours Friday-Sunday and from 6 a.m. -midnight or later during the week. Latin programming is a growing segment of programming that is expanding WHCJ’s listener base as well as their cash flow. The station offers four Latin programs each week, with bilingual commentary from the hosts. “The music of the Caribbean and Latin America is heavily and predominantly influenced by African music,” says Carter. “It’s a natural fit. On Saturdays we start with the blues, then do Latin music, African, then reggae. It’s international on Saturdays. You can see how it all ties in. I call Latin and African American music first cousins.” “What we want to do is present an intelligent side of African American culture,” says Curry. “Not just for African Americans but for everyone to appreciate our culture and take pride in it. It is not just a culture for African Americans, it’s everyone’s culture. Everything is intertwined. “The majority of people that purchase hip hop music are not just African American. Not all of our programmers are African American, either.” “This is a university station, I think we should be universal,” says Carter. “Our volunteer staff is multi racial. We play music by everybody. Our only standard is that it be good.” w To comment, e-mail us at

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Connect Savannah September 6, 2006  

Connect Savannah September 6, 2006