An “original, one-of-a-kind” gospel station may sound a little redundant, said Ruben Freeman, the general manager of WNRR Gospel 1380 AM. But, he added, the slogan is necessary because it shows the community that the station really is attempting to do what other gospel stations aren’t.
“Most gospel stations target that 50 and older crowd because those are the ones who primarily listen to gospel,” Freeman said. “But we’re really going after that 18 to 35 crowd too that would usually listen to hip-hop, sports talk radio and other stations.”
WNRR Gospel officially hit the airwaves on May 2. The physical location is at 445 Carolina Springs Road in North Augusta where Clear Channel radio used to be years ago.
Freeman said the transmitter site is located on the facility, but they reach Richmond and Columbia Counties in Georgia and Aiken, Edgefield and McCormick counties in South Carolina.
He added they are currently an AM station, but that they have been approved for FM and will likely have the FM station in place before the end of the summer.
The station started with 132 people streaming the station per day in its first month of business, according to Freeman. Since then, the station has jumped up to more than 1,400 people streaming.
Freeman said part of the growing process is having a huge presence on social media. The station can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus.
Freeman attributes most of their success to employees’ belief that they have to be a strong community station.
He said they kicked off their very first event with a Family Fun Day on May 3 and had more than 300 people come to the station.
“We gave everyone a free tour, let them sit in the chair and put the headphones on,” he explained. “We’re sitting on nearly four acres of land so we wanted everyone to see that we are here and that we’re here to serve them.”
Freeman said the inspiration to start up the station came two years ago when he met Genita Pugh, a national gospel recording artist.
Pugh and her husband were on a radio promotional tour, and they came by the last station he worked at before taking over at WNRR.
Through conversations with the couple about purchasing radio stations and a lot of prayer, Freeman said he was able to make the most of the opportunity and transitioned over to WNRR Gospel.
With this new opportunity, Freeman is helping to give other opportunities through offering internships to local students and community members. The key, he added, is really showing people how invested the station is in the community.
“I’ve always wanted a station to call my own and to assemble a team and develop a successful chemistry. And I think we gave that here,” he said. “I’m really in heaven right now because I feel like I’m here with family every day.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013. He is from Vidalia, Ga. and is a graduate of Georgia Southern University.
Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.