In 35 years, some of the oak trees along Highway 27 in Troup County, West Central Georgia, have given way to progress. One thing that has remained constant, however, is the message of WOAK-90.9 FM. Operations Manager Nathan Woltmann tells Radio Ink the faces that will celebrate more than three decades on the air have changed, but this Christian radio station continues to realize the vision of its founder.
Radio Ink: Tell us how the radio station came about.
Woltmann: Pastor Ralph Taylor was given a vision from God to reach more souls for Christ. The vision was to do a radio station. There wasn’t a religious radio station that could reach West Central Georgia and East Central Alabama on the air during the early 80s, so they put a team together to learn about how to start up a radio station. They even talked to Ted Turner to get some direction and advice. Long story short, by 1984 they were able to get tower and studio all set up and went on the air June 11, 1984.
Our call letters are interesting because the radio station is associated with Oakside Baptist Church. Oakside got its name because, when they originally built the church, there was really nothing there, just Troup County Highway 27, a two-lane road surrounded by oak trees.
Radio Ink: How big is your staff?
Woltmann: The main staff is basically me and our secretary Pam Russell. We have several volunteer DJs that come in during the week. We have 10 to 12 local programs we produce. We are the only religious radio station in the area, one of the other stations does stuff on Sunday morning, but we carry religious programing 24/7, 365 days a year. We have been a 24/7 Christian radio station since the early ’90s thanks to automation.
Radio Ink: How do you keep the transmitter and lights on?
Woltmann: It’s by God’s grace that we get through. When there has been a need, the people have been there for us. When we ask for support to keep the various aspects of the radio station going, whether it’s equipment or programming, our listeners pull through, they do what is needed. We do two share-a-thons a year, one in April and another at the end of October. We do have some underwriters, some business underwriters that we mention in spots on the air as underwriters of some programs. But the majority of our income is from listeners.
Radio Ink: How large is your audience?
Woltmann: We have about a 70-mile diameter footprint. We reach six different counties and have a potential listenership of 60 to 80 thousand people. We have been able to determine that on average we reach 15 to 20 thousand people a week. That’s significant because of the two other stations in our county and others out of the area that can be heard here.
We are streamed on the Internet and we are just starting to get into Facebook. We have reached people around the world online. We have people in cities in Asia and Europe that listen on a consistent basis online.
Radio Ink: Thirty-five years is quite a milestone in radio broadcasting, especially for a Christian radio station. What do you attribute your longevity to?
Woltmann: The underlying thing for us, why we still are strong today as we were years ago, is that we haven’t compromised, we haven’t changed our philosophy or doctrine on anything. The fact is that we may have changed our application of how we do things, but the underlying foundation of who we are and what makes us who we are has remained constant. Because we haven’t gone extreme one way or another, people have grown used to that and appreciate what we do. We are still the same people we were 35 years ago, just some different faces with the same message.
You can reach Nathan Woltmann at 706.884.2950 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org