WGBN lands Bev Smith show; Black news/talk back on the air

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Somewhat quietly, Pentecostal Temple Pastor Loran Mann, was steadily going about the business of expanding the capabilities of the church’s New Kensington radio station, when WAMO was sold and silenced. Since then, Mann’s pace has steadily increased.

He is currently installing a new dish on the roof of the WGBN 1150 studio, which should double the station’s daytime operating power to more than 2,000 watts.

Mann
MANN AND HIS MUSIC—Rev. Loran Mann holds “The Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir” album, which is a part of his collection.

He plans to fill some of the hole in the market left by WAMO’s demise, and as a step in that direction, he will begin broadcasting Bev Smith’s syndicated talk show every weekday.

“With the absence of WAMO, the giant tree in the forest, it throws more light on us,” he said. “We’re expanding across the spectrum. We’ve taken on Bev, AURN News, we already have CNN, we’re also adding Bobby Jones on Saturdays starting Nov. 7, and we have Dr. Ian Smoot’s health reports and sports programming so there will be a community voice in Pittsburgh.”

Mann said he was a bit put off by comments Eddie Edwards made when announcing his purchase of a radio station to make sure Black news and community issues were aired.

bev_smith
BEV SMITH

“I disagreed with the term “Black Out” because we’re here and we’re doing it,” said Mann. “I haven’t spoken with Eddie, though we know each other. He’s an experienced broadcaster, a pro and he’ll be good for us because competition makes you better. And because of that, the Pittsburgh audience will be the winner.”

WGBN began broadcasting in 1992 after the station (then WKPA) was donated to the church’s development corporation by the former owner. Mann changed the format and made history as the first full-time gospel-formatted station in the Pittsburgh market and one of the few in the country. The station has moved twice since then, the first time due to a roof collapse in 1994, and the second time due to fire the following year that gutted the building. Six months later they began broadcasting from their current location at 560 Seventh St.

“This is not just the voice of Loran Mann’s church, we’re a commercial radio station,” said Mann. “Yes, the music is gospel, but we have weather, news, sports, talk and you’ll hear advertisements for secular events you wouldn’t expect from a religious station.”

Sherri Lynn, whose “Sherri in the Morning” show airs weekdays from 6-10 a.m., said the local aspect of the station’s programming is bonus.

“It’s a free-flowing format that features local and independent talent,” she said. “Our morning show is local, so we have a connection you don’t get when the “hits” are piped in. People are waving at me at the bank. It’s like family.”

Whether wearing her marketing hat or broadcasting, Danielle Smith further cultivates the local connection with her “Hot or Not” gospel show, which allows listeners to vote on new music and artists by phone or via the Internet. She also posts interviews with local and national newsmakers on her Digital Digest at the station’s website http://www.wgbn.net.

The station’s website also has the added benefit of reaching audiences across the country with its streaming music and other programming. This is particularly beneficial at night when the station’s broadcast signal must be lowered to 50 watts to avoid interfering with other nearby stations.

“It’s really an asset. We have built an audience in Los Angeles because they don’t have a full-time gospel station,” said Mann. “We’re still hoping some of the new engineering work will let us boost our nighttime signal. If we could get 200 watts, I’ll be singing hallelujah.”

As part of its community focus, WGBN is presenting a live version of its “Hot or Not Challenge” at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater Oct. 23, from 4-7 p.m. The event will be broadcast live on the station. For more information, or to register as a performer, call 412-333-9426 or e-mail dmsmith@wbgn.net

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