WRGG celebrates one year

Shawn Hardy

June 14 is Flag Day, but it’s an important date for another banner: WRGG. Greencastle’s low band FM radio station went on the air one year ago on June 14, 2016.

WRGG, with the motto “We Are Greencastle-Antrim,” can be found locally at 93.7 on the FM dial and at ww.wrgg.org.

It’s a new station, but its radio roots run deep in the community to WKSL, which was operated by the Thomas family for 30 years, from 1967 to 1997.

WKSL veterans Ben Thomas Jr., Greg Hoover and Wade Burkholder make up “the committee” behind the station.

Burkholder got his start as a disc jockey at WCBG in Chambersburg as a 16-year-old in 1962 before a long career in radio advertising sales.

Hoover started with WKSL in the early 1970s and remained active in broadcasting and public announcing as he moved up the education ladder before retiring last year as Greencastle-Antrim School District superintendent.

Thomas began at the family station emptying trashcans, advancing in high school and college to disc jockeying, news reporting and some ad sales.

He remembers WSKL documenting its community service for license renewal. He saw that as a 14-year-old and it influenced his career, which has included police work and municipal government management.

At WKSL reunions, the trio would always say “we should start a radio station,” then they met once a week for five years at Burkholder’s house to talk about the idea. They still meet once a week, while Hoover runs things day-to-day as director of operations. He also is president of the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation, the nonprofit that holds the FCC license and operates WRGG. The foundation helps organizations in the education realm and WRGG wants to help educationally. It has had two interns and hosted classes and promotes school and sports events.

The station broadcasts football, basketball, baseball and softball games and hopes to branch out into other sports and concerts and get more kids involved.

Burkholder, the station’s development director, is quick to point out WRGG receives no financial support from the school district or tax dollars. The station is debt-free, supported by individuals and business in the community with the Shockey Foundation providing the initial seed money that paid for all the equipment. It is housed on the second floor of a house on South Carlisle Street owned by Burkholder and his wife. Linda.

No one is paid and the volunteer force keeps growing, with familiar faces in the community becoming familiar voices on the radio.

“It’s hard to believe it’s just shy of a year. It’s exciting people are talking about the station,” Thomas said. “We never expected all the support, the listeners, the programming. It’s phenomenal. There are so many volunteers who have stepped up to the plate. It takes great people and we have them.”

“The Morning Show,” airing from 6 to 9 a.m., features Hoover most of the time, joined by people like Mike Bock, Lanny Carbaugh, Ron Oliver, Jamie Shank and, on Fridays, Thomas, as well as random guests.

“Believe it or not, there is a script,” Hoover laughs, explaining the search for UFO sightings started as the search for Tayamentasasquatch, a riff on the school district environmental center. And then there’s “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, but this one’s pretty darn close.”

“We have a lot of fun,” Hoover said. “We try to stay away from politics and religion.”

There’s local news, a birthday club and local sports with John Freeman. WRGG broadcast live from Old Home Week events and the Relay for Life.

Dave Kipp keeps people abreast of what’s going on around community with interview such as the chamber of commerce, Allison-Antrim Museum and the Rescue Hose Co. Greencastle Borough Manager Eden Ratliff takes to the air for “Evenings with Eden.”

Burkholder can be heard in the afternoons, while Carbaugh offers up “Bluegrass Connection,” now also heard on a North Carolina station. There is a strong Elvis presence, WRGG continues to expand its music library, with the goal is to have the top 100 songs from the years 1955 to 1975 and Wolfman Jack is a recent addition.

Jeff Baker and Stan Shaffer volunteer a lot of time on the engineering, with Dwight Bard from the school district lending technical assistance.

Although the radio signal fades near the edges of the Greencastle-Antrim community, technology makes WRGG available via live streaming on the website and the TuneIn app. Videostreaming also is being tested.

“Technology helps us equal a high power station,” Burkholder said.

Internet stats indicate WRGG is heard in 250 cities and 20 countries.

Jason Kabler, a Nashville recording artist and Greencastle native, listens every day from Tennessee.

A popular local performer, David King, known for his Elvis impersonations, will be featured in a big fundraiser for WRGG on Aug. 19 at Greencastle-Antrim High School. For information, email administration@wrgg.org.

“For the most part, what we set out to do we have accomplished,” Hoover said. “But there’s always something else to do. There are things we’d like to continue to grow. We can’t be stagnant. I guess people feel like we’re doing a good thing and it’s a good cause.”