Turning dials to AM 1520
Radio station owners and operators Jesse and Randall Cowan are filling an oldies music void in Rutherford County.
“We feel there is an audience for oldies music in this area,” Randall said. “This style wasn’t currently broadcast here.”
With more than 80 years of combined experience in television and radio, the Cowans purchased the former WGMA radio station located on West Main Street in Spindale, and established station G1520 WGTM to provide great music and great memories.
“We’ve been looking for a station to invest in for the last five years,” Jesse said. “We had looked at this specific station prior to the previous owner.”
Owned by Blue Mountain Broadcasting, WGMA came on the air in 1982 as a southern gospel station. Just over 30 years later it went off the air in April 2013.
The Cowans finalized a deal with the company in December 2013 to purchase the station, and WGTM began broadcasting on March 6, 2014.
Originally from Greenville, N.C., the Cowans currently reside in Rutherfordton.
Jesse, 76, has 52 years of commercial television experience and more than six years of radio experience in North Carolina, Virginia and Texas.
“My brother was an engineer at a radio station and the chief engineer took me under his wing when I was 13 years old,” Jesse said. “Then when I was 16, I got a part-time job at the station.”
Jesse later enlisted in the U.S. Army where he worked in radio electronics, and after his discharge from the military he worked extensively in television.
Randall, 46, has worked in radio and television in North Carolina for 32 years.
“I started in radio at a local station when I was 14 years old. I knew the owner and worked at the station after school,” Randall said. “I wore a lot of hats there, assisting with on-air production, sales and radio management. Then while attending Montreat College, I worked at WONO, a radio station located in Black Mountain at the time.”
Now when listeners tune their radio dials to AM 1520, they will hear iconic music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and early 80s.
“There is no reason for us to come in and copy what is already playing here,” Jesse added. “We found our niche, just like the other stations in the area have done.”
Randall listed several legendary artists coming across WGTM air waves, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Patsy Cline, John Denver, The Platters, Carly Simon, Christopher Cross, Andy Williams, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, Glen Campbell, Simon & Garfunkel, Anne Murray and Barry Manilow.
Classified as a daily daytime radio station, G1520 WGTM is on-air from sunrise until sunset, or roughly 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. In the summer months, Randall intends to extend the on-air hours later into the evenings.
“Monday through Friday we offer great oldies music and a variety of programming like news at the top of each hour, weather twice an hour, sports scores and local happenings to keep listeners informed on what is going on around the county,” Randall said. “On Saturday, in addition to oldies music, we provide listeners with Christian music and programming from 9 a.m. until noon.”
Sunday broadcasting on G1520 WGTM also features a plethora of Christian music and programs from national and local churches and ministries.
Randall, whose radio moniker is “Randy Carawin,” also has a morning show called ‘Great Mornings, Great Music and Great Memories’ that is on the air Monday-Saturday. During the week, Randall includes music, national news, sports, financial updates, business reports and information on local events in his show.
On Saturday mornings, the show largely consists of sports scores and game recaps. In the near future, Randall hopes to feature local personalities on the morning show.
As the Cowans continue to fill an oldies music void in the county, they anticipate growing G1520 WGTM and strengthening its relationship with the community.
“We feel comfortable here, we’re a family owned station and we want to be part of the community and provide a service to the people here,” Jesse said. “Like any business, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Our biggest competitors are ourselves. We will continue to grow on what we started.”
Station: G1520 WGTM
Where: 181 West Main Street, Spindale
Music: 50s, 60s, 70s and early 80s
Programming: News, sports, weather and more
On-air times: Monday-Sunday, sunrise until sunset