L-R: DJs and staff members Chris "TPK" Kirkland, Sandy Foxx, Ava Rogers, Jett Edison and web/technology designer Dylan Hendrix (foreground), who were at WICU’s maiden broadcast on August 1.Other DJs will be featured on-air at wicuradio.com.
Following a shutdown that came as a shock to staff members at WIVL radio station in Jasper, the majority of volunteer DJs and sales personnel are dusting themselves off for another go at local radio.
Enter WICU --- the “Radio for all Generations.” The new Jasper station will begin its life streaming on the Internet with the ultimate goal of finding a home on the FM radio dial.
“People loved the diversity of music of WIVL,” said WICU owner and former WIVL Program Manager Sandy Foxx. “We want to be similar to WIVL in that we will maintain that diversity and also continue to allow local artists to promote themselves and have local charities on the air and interview local officials. We want to have an open door policy.”
WIVL 88.3 went off the air earlier this month due to financial difficulties.
“If we would have fixed everything, we would have stayed at WIVL,” Foxx said, “but we are out because we were locked out. We are not thumbing our nose at [the owner]. We are grateful for the opportunity the station gave to all of us.”
Following the final day of broadcasting, the majority of WIVL DJs and other staff members held a meeting to discuss their plans for their new venture, WICU.
“The meeting went wonderfully,” said Ava Rogers, former sales manager at WIVL who will retain the same position at WICU. “We hadn’t seen each other in a while, and we were all a little giddy. It was like a room full of kindergarteners. But we are all very excited.”
As of Monday, Aug. 1, former WIVL fans can tune into wicuradio.com to hear DJs Sandy Foxx, Jett Edison, Julian Starr, Mustang, Blue, and Bill Zee, who have all made the transition to WICU.
Also featured will be DJs Lisana, Cinnamon and Randy "Rocket Randy" Thomason.
The station went on the air at 1:44 p.m., the exact time power was cut off at WIVL on July 13.
“Jett Edison was the last DJ on air at WIVL, so we thought it only fair that he be the first to be on air at WICU,” Foxx said in an email. The first song played was “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends,” by Joe Cocker, starting with the word "friends," which is the exact point the power was shut off.
Foxx said the selection was “kind of poignant to us.”
At this time, it is not known when WICU will be on the FM dial.
“We’re just going to start on the Internet,” Foxx said, who co-owns WICU with her husband, Randy, and Dylan Hendrix. “We want to do everything by the book, so we have to go through the FCC to get approval. We’re getting all our paperwork in order.”
Foxx said unlike WIVL, WICU will be a commercial, for-profit station that utilizes the disabled DJs that worked at WIVL. She also said they are looking to offer a wider coverage area with a stronger signal.
“We talked about it, and we thought if we’re going to do this, we need to do this right,” Foxx said. “And we also thought, why not go for the big picture?” she added, noting there are talks of doing local vocational rehabilitation as part of WICU’s community outreach efforts.
“We want to be community oriented, and we want the community to be more informed,” Foxx said. “We all love Jasper and Pickens and want to be here for people in the community.”
In a single e-mail response from an earlier story, WIVL owner Mark Hellinger said that while down, the station is not out. He intends to re-start it from his home.
Hellinger did not respond to phone messages left for further comments.