Friday, November 24, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
LOW POWER RADIO KEEPS PLAYLISTS VARIED
Originally Posted: 06-22-2012 3:06 PM
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During one of my usual lunges to change my car radio station during an Adele song, I found myself wondering how in the world I could get something other than the Midwest's idea of hit radio or Country music to come out of that infernal dashboard. While impatiently jogging through the FM band at high speed, I managed to find something that sounded fresh at 105.3.

The broadcast featured an R&B playlist I hadn't heard before, and as I continued to listen, I discovered sparce talk and almost no commercials. Was this oasis some new sort of pirate radio? No, station IDs confirmed that. I was shocked to find out that WVBH Power 105.3 broadcasts from none other than The Vincent Place in the Benton Harbor Arts District.

Turns out that WVBH could be one of the best-known cultural samplings of Southwest Michigan. Tuning into the station in the afternoon or evening will give the listener an earful of Benton Harbor's favorite R&B & hip/hop records. Why “Benton Harbor's” favorites? Because this station is a low power, not-for-profit radio venture with a broadcast range of only a dozen or so mile radius, half of which extends over Lake Michigan. That makes this “consultant–free” broadcast content fit for anthropological study as a HYPERLOCAL cultural snapshot of musical tastes.

“On a clear day we may get calls from Hartford but anything past Hilltop Road in south St. Joseph is pretty sketchy so listener base further out would need to tune into our webstream,” on-air personality Loren Michaels told me.

Michaels' chill-out request show ‘The Quiet Storm' broadcasts from 10p-midnight Sun-Thurs. In just a month he's seen the webpage chat interaction with his listenership triple. Despite modest numbers, word is spreading. According to assistant station manager Joyce Smith, the station runs Gospel programming from 4am to noon, some prerecorded. Then a variety of hosts play their take on Urban Contemporary music from noon daily till the next morning's 4am Gospel shift.

The post workday 6-10 slot is handled most days by Ellis Bethea, who some of you may remember from his great vocal appearance on ‘Disco Inferno' with the Funkin' Rock Orchestra at Studio 376. According to Smith, Bethea's show is largely hip hop where afternoon programming leans more toward modern R&B with Smitty Smoov, who has an addictive speaking accent reminiscent of Andre 3000 from Outkast.

With an on-air personality policy of handling requests, WVBH has found a niche in being responsive to their direct listeners' tastes, as radio used to be. An in-studio webcam broadcasts stuttered images to anyone who wants to see what is, or probably isn't, happening in the broadcast room (WARNING: watching golf is more entertaining than watching a radio studio).

Driving down Main St., one can see the night show's host silhouetted through the westfacing window as the studio's light travels across the cityscape. Through one of the few windows alive after dark in Benton Harbor's small but reemerging urbania, the trained eye can always see when Loren Michaels' ‘Quiet Storm' is on-air as hearts are being healed, love is being born, and radio is being broadcast in the way it was meant to be.

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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