Tuesday, July 12 at around 1:30 p.m., the music at Jasper’s WIVL radio station died as “With a Little Help from My Friends” by Joe Cocker, became the final song played.
Tune into 88.3 FM now and all you will hear is dead air, a sad turn of events for Pickens residents who relied on the station for diverse musical programming.
“I believe the audience could sense our dedication as we all (staffers and listeners) have a deep appreciation for great music,” said volunteer DJ Jett Edison, who has been with the station since its inception in 2009. “Music that other radio stations have completely forgotten, that is what I believe set us apart from any other station. We weren't programmed towards any particular format.
“People would call in and tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing,” he added. “We always enjoyed the interaction we had with our audience; they are the ones who made it all worthwhile for us.”
Mark Hellinger, who previously owned Jasper’s radio station WYYZ, launched WIVL over two years ago as a project to help the physically challenged. A large part of the volunteer staff was disabled and say they gained a great deal of pleasure from working as either DJs or sales people.
According to several of the DJs at WIVL, they received surprise news last week that the station’s power would be cut off and the doors would be locked early this week.
According to some of the volunteer staff, they have attempted to reach Hellinger for weeks but have been unsuccessful.
“This is just so sad,” said station manager Ava Rogers. “It was like a big family here, and we’re all sorry to see it go. [All the staff] was there when the landlord came and changed the locks Monday,” said Rogers. “They did that about 1:15 and the power was off by 1:30.”
Both Rogers and Edison say the staff held a sort of going away party last Friday, July 8 to say their goodbyes.
“The closing of WIVL was somewhat bittersweet,” Edison said. “We all had a great time on Friday and even on Monday as we were waiting for the locks to be changed. We were sad to see WIVL close, because all of us had invested so much of our energy into making it an entertaining vehicle not just for ourselves but for the local community and those Internet listeners.
“Watching it being closed right before our very eyes was difficult, but even standing outside in the parking lot as we hugged and said our goodbyes, it was obvious that we are all still very much a team,” he said.
But on a more positive note, Edison said the staff at WIVL doesn’t feel like this is the end of the road for their careers in broadcasting, “but rather it’s a transition towards something we hope will be even bigger and better,” he said. “As the old adage says, stay tuned, because we hope to be talking to all of you again very soon.”