Photo by Jim Massara
On the air at 1570 AM The Light. Seated: program director Kevin Collins and operations manager Larry Young. Standing: general manager Paul Ploener.
Radio station WIGO-AM general manager Paul Ploener wants you to think of his radio station as a “vox populi.” That’s Latin for “voice of the people.”
“Let’s say an individual has a good idea for a program, a talk program or a sports program,” says Ploener. “Whatever they’re interested in, we have time available.”
Think you can host your own talk show? Bring it on. You’ll have to buy the time and work with WIGO management to do it, of course, but you’re more than welcome to give it a shot.
WIGO — also known as AM 1570 The Light — wasn’t always quite like this.
With an FCC license for Morrow since the late 1950s, the station chugged along as a more conventional country-music station for most of its existence, with the call letters WSSA.
Over the last decade, it’s tried various formats, including Spanish and then gospel. It settled on its current format — a variety of gospel music, church programming and talk — last year. They’ve been fine-tuning it since then, Ploener says.
The call letters WIGO are “classic call letters from Atlanta’s past,” according to operations manager Larry Young. At one time, WIGO-AM and WAOK-AM were the pre-eminent black stations in Atlanta. When those call letters became available a few years ago, the station management snapped them up.
While this isn’t exactly your father’s WIGO — the original WIGO was at 1340 kHz and run by someone else — the call letters fit the station’s current listener profile. Ploener says the station targets African-American females, ages 25-54, with about 60 percent of the listeners being female.
So who’s listening?
There are no hard numbers. WIGO doesn’t subscribe to Arbitron’s rating service because the service’s 16-county coverage area would minimize the station’s real impact. With more than 60 stations in that area, only the biggest ones — your WSBs and V-103s — tend to show up.
But that doesn’t mean that nobody’s listening. Young and Ploener say that the station makes its mark along the south side of the Atlanta metro area, with listeners in Clayton, Henry, Fayette, DeKalb and Fulton counties.
That impact is extended with an Internet presence and 24-hour streaming at the station’s website, www.wigoam.com. You can even listen to WIGO on your smartphone with the TuneIn app. Ploener estimates that on a week to week basis between 12,000 and 15,000 listen to WIGO via web streaming.
“You can’t tell the difference,” says program director Kevin Collins. “The audio quality (via the Internet) is as good as FM.”
Better sound quality is a good thing. Younger listeners are more inclined to listen to FM stations and have a hard time finding AM stations — but they do know where the Internet it.
At the end of the day, though, it’s about keeping the customer happy.
“We work hard,” says Young. “People don’t have to go to Atlanta to work with a quality radio station that serves Clayton County. We’re convenient, we’ll work hard for your business and we’ll work hard to keep your business.”
Have an idea for a radio program? Give them a call.