Texas-based Internet radio station has strong Cleveland ties

Texas-based Internet radio station has strong Cleveland ties

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Thursday, 21 May 2015
Gospel
Those who oppose the rising onslaught of negative images and stereotypes that plague the African-American community can speak out against them or look for a solution, Cleveland native John Hairston has literally created a channel that both speaks out and offers a solution.

Since October of 2011, Hairston’s broadcast brainchild, www.1067TheBridge.com  has emerged as a three-way combination of online media, responsible programming, and business ownership. Based in San Antonio but heard solely over the Internet, “The Bridge” integrates light rock, gospel, old and new school jazz, along with news that is responsive to the financial, medical and spiritual interests of the discerning urban listener. The station is committed to the empowerment of both consumers and advertisers, frequently playing songs and/or artists that receive little airtime anywhere else. Likewise, business enterprises of all sizes can find an opportunity for exposure on The Bridge.

Hairston’s initial vision was to provide a desperately needed online alternative to a diverse listenership. “The concept behind The Bridge was to bridge the gap between different genres of music and also to bridge black communities a bit more culturally like they once were,” says Hairston.

More important to Hairston is his station’s  commitment to positive and informative programming. “We don’t play music  that exploits women. We don’t play music that’s laced with profanity,  and we don’t play music that glorifies the destruction of black people  or our race. We try to uplift people,” he says.

Hairston grew up  in Shaker Heights, graduating from its high school in 1982. He attended  Hampton University in Hampton, VA and graduated in 1986 with a  bachelor’s in Mass Media Communications. He worked as an on-air  announcer at Cleveland’s 1490- AM/WJMO.

Hairston has established  a foundational Cleveland presence in creating his successful station.  Sunday morning listeners, who have been tracked from as far as London,  England can hear in succession sermons from a trio of clergymen with  strong Cleveland connections. Shaker Heights native, the Rev. Dr. Otis  Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Chicago, can be  heard beginning at 9am EST. the membership of which includes the  nation’s first family, The Obamas. Moss grew up in Olivet Institutional  Baptist Church on Quincy Ave, during his father’s long and distinguished  pastorate.

Following Moss are the sermons of Rev. Dr. Todd C.  Davidson, now completing his second year as senior pastor of Antioch  Baptist Church of Cleveland. His broadcast begins at 10 am EST. Finally,  at 12 noon EST, listeners can hear another Shaker native, Dr. Alyn  Waller, senior pastor of the 17,000-plus member Enon Tabernacle Baptist  Church of Philadelphia. Waller’s late father, Alfred, was the long-time  pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church of Cleveland during Alyn’s formative  years.

In addition, former Cleveland broadcaster Lynn Tolliver,  of WJMO-AM and WZAK-FM fame, has a regular program on Saturday  afternoons as well.

Perhaps the most consistent challenge to The  Bridge’s mission is financial support. Hairston is constantly seeking  ways to make the operation more efficient. So sponsorship and  fundraising opportunities are always needed.

“In today’s  competitive marketplace, financial support is very important to keep the  station going,” says Hairston. “We accept contributions in addition to  add revenue. We have a format that is similar to satellite programming,  which doesn’t contain many audio commercials. We run banner ads on the  website to showcase our sponsors and their products. It’s what helps  keep us on the air. We need to get additional funding for marketing and  sales which would help us grow our listener base and sponsors.”

While seeking support the current operation, Hairston is also planning expansion. “Many areas of the country have lost their R&B stations on the FM dial as a result of deregulated F.C.C. (Federal Communications  Commission) rules, which has prompted some stations to abandon R&B music formats for others that they think may be more lucrative. One of our missions is to bridge those gaps and help promote a global R&B community. We have listeners all over the U.S. and we continue to grow both in the U.S. and abroad. Some of our weekend programming originates in London.

“We hope to continue (the current broadcast) and are  also working on a new station that we hope to have online in the next  few months—www.thegospelbridge. com. It will focus on gospel music and  more sermons. We hope to have that website up by this fall.”

The  Bridge’s format and its focus on community uplift make it a rarity in  the radio world. Sometimes, he says, “you have to do whatever it takes  to be successful. The key is being versatile and open-minded. Internet  radio is an extension of the terrestrial (AM/FM) format, so certain  skills remain.”

Hairston’s parting advice, like his  cross-cultural broadcast operation, speaks to the core of people who are  both ambitious and responsive to the urgent need for growth in places  like Cleveland. “You may not get the kind of recognition you might  expect immediately, but you have to stick with it and people will  eventually find you. Don’t be too proud to also work with social media,  word-of-mouth, and other ways to introduce people to your website and  what you’re doing. It’s a tough business, but you can become successful  at it if you work hard and you are consistent.”

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