Meet The Guys Behind Charlotte's Streetz 103.3 FM
February is Black History Month and I have a few guys here in the Queen City that are making a little history of their own.
A few months ago, I was out and about in Plaza Midwood and I that's when I met Frank. I was talking to him and his friend. Actually, I was putting his friend in his place, because he was running his mouth at me and actin a fool and well, I guess Frank, thought I was funny. He put his business card in my pocket and said "you should come visit us at the radio station; you'd be a good guest."
In this day and age, everything is about social media. Frank Harris is an Account Executive at WGIV Streetz 103.3. We became Instagram friends and I learned that Frank is who you want to talk to if you want to advertise your business or an event. I followed up and did some research on the radio station. I even tuned in. I liked what I heard. Hip hop. I love all kinds of music. If it has a beat, I'll give it a listen.
So how did it all start?
WGIV is an entrepreneurial mainstream urban radio station that was founded in a two-car garage in 1946 by Francis Fitzgerald, or Mr. Fitz, as he was nicknamed. He was known to be a kind man who played a huge role in growth of radio in the Carolinas at that time. It was one of the first broadcast licenses issued after World War II. The call letters, WGIV go way back to the 1940s, and they unofficially stood for "We Are GI Veterans", in reference to the then-completed war. WGIV was a successful station and one of the first stations to openly appeal to the African American community.
In the 1960s, WBT Radio and WGIV were the driving forces in Charlotte on the race issues. Think about it....TV was just coming around, and most families couldn't afford them. The radio was all you had to keep you entertained. Crazy to think that as this was not THAT long ago. Music is that universal language that brings people of all races and backgrounds together. WGIV was that merger of the black and white culture in the area, and it chose to NOT integrate differences, where other radio stations chose to isolate them. In the 50's WGIV's on air staff was totally integrated: half white, half black. I guess you could say they were ahead of their time.
Samual "Genial Gene" Potts was a popular morning personality here in Charlotte. He actually was the Principal of Billingsville Elementary school, but left his job to pursue his dream of being a DJ. His musical selections leaned heavily in the rhythm and blues and gospel genre.He was one of the "Original 13," the first group of full-time black radio announcers in the South.
"We're setting the pace for others to trace," Potts would ad-lib. "This is Genial Gene on the air; have you got 15 minutes to spare?" - Genial Gene Potts
In 1948 Genial Gene was hosting gospel and soul programs. He had a stammer in his voice, so to overcome it, he began rhyming. His rapping became his trademark. I read that once a man that was wanted for murder here in Charlotte was on the run. Once day he walked into WGIV and made a deal. He proposed to Genial Gene that if he played a song for his Mother on air, he would surrender. Pott's played the song (I'm curious to what the song was - if you know, message me), dialed 911 and the man went peacefully. The man's Momma just wanted to hear some rock-n-roll. HA!
There were numerous DJ's at WGIV over the years who went on to be successful. FP Toomey, Rocking Ray Gooding, Hattie Leeper, Ed Myers (the Shrine Bowl quarterback), and Julian Barber, who went on to win 3 Emmy's, to name a few.
Over the years, many changes took place. Mr. Fitz died in 1967 and the station was sold, the first of many ownerships. They even faced foreclosure in 1982. In 2005, former WPEG radio employee Frank Neely acquired the call letters WGIV, and has since settled on R&B and hip hop genre. Ironically, Streetz 103.3's biggest competitor is ...you guessed it....Neely's former employer WPEG, who hasn't had a competitor since 2010! Steve Hegwood, whose Core Communicators currently operates "Streetz."
"When it comes to radio, we just bring a different flavor. It is a whole different vibe in the way we do it." - Frank Neely
Streetz 103.3 is located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. They are currently Charlotte's only African American owned and operated radio station. They are the Home of The Breakfast Club 6am-10am, The Mike Swift Show from 2pm-6pm and Mario The Mic Man show from 6pm-10pm.
I stopped by the station one afternoon a few weeks ago to see Frank for the Mike Swift Show. Mike is the Program Director and Radio Host in the afternoon. He is new to Charlotte and has a friendly face with a James Earl Jones recognizable voice. Mike has played for crowds estimated at 50K+ attendees and has worked celebrity events with Ludacris to Trey Songz to Rick Ross. Mike was in his element and doing his thing. He's quite talented. He even went old school for me and played some songs from my high school days. Meeeemories.
The CIAA Tournament kicks off its 13th consecutive year here in Charlotte Feb 27th - March 3rd. Celebrities are rolling in to perform or host parties for the NCAA Division II college basketball. Celebrities named so far are Bell Biv Devoe, Biz Markie, Lil Wayne and Doug E. Fresh.The best way to keep up with all the action? Tune into Streetz 103.3
Need a list of the parties? Click HERE
FAQ for the tournament: http://www.ciaatournament.org/faq
Congrats on your success guys! I can't wait to see what you do next....I'll be listening.