I'm currently 27 hours into a 48-hour radio marathon to save the only 24/7 blues radio station in Ohio! AMA!
Hello! I currently run the only 24/7 blues music radio station in Ohio: WDIF-LP 97.5FM. It's a low-power, non-profit radio station in Marion, OH. (www.975wdif.com & you can listen live with the TuneIn app, search for WDIF)
I'm doing a live stunt to try to raise money for this station so we can stay on the air for all of 2017. I'm staying up for 48 hours straight and DJing live at the fabulous Nathan's Barbershop in downtown Marion! At the time of this posting, I'm now 27 hours in. I feel okay so far actually. But as the hours march on, I imagine I'm going to get more and more loopy.
If you're not familiar with low-power radio stations, they are a fairly new thing, only about 13 years old now. Long story short, the FCC opened up some unused radio frequencies to be used on a local basis for communities by charitable organizations. We don't have commercials per say. We have sponsors. We're not allowed to use calls to action for for-profit entities like we can't say "GO BUY Jimmy's cheeseburgers for $1.99," but we can say things in an informational context like "Jimmy sells some amazing cheeseburgers, and they don't cost a lot." The cool thing about low-power charity radio stations is that you get an immediate direct return for donations in that it keeps us on the air playing music!
You can learn more about how low-power, non-profit radio stations work here: www.prometheusradio.org
It's a story straight out of Weird Al's movie UHF (one of my favorites). The folks who own this station were about to shut it down because they didn't have the manpower, funds, or time to really do anything with it. It was just playing background noise - 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s soft rock. Blech. I asked if I could take it over, infuse some funds, and make it a blues station. If only I had Stanley Spadowski here to really put us over...
I took over and turned it into a blues music station in April because a) I thought it would play well in Marion and b) because of my dad. There used to be a blues station within earshot of us over 20 years ago called WBBY. My dad, who is a huge blues fan, absolutely loved it. Well one day, they decided to change formats. So when he heard that, he ran out to the garage with a bunch of cassette tapes and started recording the station so he could save the music. This was back before the internet, of course. So I decided as a kid that I would get him back that station someday. And here I am!
So to stay on the air, we accept donations and get business sponsorships. We're having trouble getting enough sponsorship money to stay on the air, so I decided to do this stunt! I'm going to stay up for 48 hours straight and DJ in order to raise $18,000 needed to keep us on the air through all of 2017! I don't know if it's cool to put the donation link directly here or not. It's on our website, though.
Speaking of charity, this station's major charitable initiative beyond keeping the blues alive is a program I started called "The Blues Crew!" We provide free musical instrument rentals to disadvantaged children in Marion. We believe that learning music is a great way to develop creativity in children, which then can create ways out of poverty and bad situations. Families that earn under a certain income threshold can apply to have their children join the Blues Crew. We have the kids do a little volunteer cleanup project in town, then they earn free instrument rentals. We had a couple of kids get a trumpet and a violin already this summer! We're in the building phase now so we can have some funds to do this for a bunch more children in 2017!
While I'm wiling away the time throughout the night and through tomorrow, feel free to AMA! I've got plenty of time to respond. Also, if you want to donate $9.75 to the station, I'll say whatever you want on the air so long as it's not offensive or political (I have a no politics policy on this station)!! I'm asking for $9.75 since our frequency is 97.5 FM. Isn't that cute?!?! :P
Update 1: Hour 13. Feeling alright so far. I slept in till 3pm yesterday to give myself a running start. Haven't had any coffee or anything yet, but probably will soon. Should start to get interesting the later into the day I get. ;)
Update 2: Coming up on hour 20. Had my second cup of coffee less than an hour ago. Feeling pretty good actually. Have had some people stop by and donate. We're up to $1,420 now! Slow going, but we're getting there. Thank you to everyone who has given so far!!!
Update 3: I've been on the air now for 27 hours straight. It's been a crazy ride. Surprisingly, shockingly, I feel physically fine. However, I have found that I'm not quite as sharp and on the ball as I have been previously. Just a slight drop in mental quickness. Also, I think I'm getting a little moody. I was getting really down in the dumps a little bit ago about how we haven't come close to our goal for the station.
Update 4: 31 hours in. Feeling a little dingy finally. If you're following this, we're about to have some live music from Marion, Ohio's own Patrick Pierce! So tune in online if you'd like to hear some ultra-local music from a town YOU AIN'T NEVER BEEN TO BEFORE!!! :D
UPDATE 5 I FEEL DRUNK. O MAN. HER WE GO LOL 36 HOURS MAN. IT HITME LIKE A LOT. PROLLY NOT GONNA MAKE IT
Update 6: Wow. Feeling really depressed. The sleep deprivation hasn't taken so much of a physical toll on me as it has an emotional toll. I didn't see that coming. Tough to handle at the moment. Iknow all the negativity sharks are smelling blood and seeing their chance to pounce. I could delete that rant, but hey, that's part of this whole experience. It's out there. So let's see how this plays out.
I might be whiny and bitchy, but I'm not giving up. I made a promise, and regardless of the outcome, I'm sticking to it. Because at the end of the day, even if I fail to reach my goal, I can still leave with my head high and with my integrity.
11 hours to go. Let's see what happens.
Update 7: 41 hours in. Down to less than a shift. Man I'm tired. Had some coffee a little bit ago, that really helped perk me up in terms of energy and mood. Was going to have the mayor on at 10a (EST) but his office just called and told me he just emergency last minute jury duty and wouldn't be able to make it on the air with me. That's some horseshit. Silky Ray called, said he's going to come over and give me some albums to auction on the air. I love this new friend, but man... I don't know if I have the energy. I can't auction the albums I already have up! :P
Update 8: I'mat 46 hours now! Having trouble keeping my eyes open and focusing. I had an interview with the head of our tourism board and although i found it intersting, i was fadingman. I'm fading but I'm gonna make .........zzzzz AMA!!
Update 9: Here's the link to the donate page. It's www.gofundme.com/975wdif I didn't want to put it on here right away because I didn't want to break any rules or anything. It's that midwest humility, I guess lol. Also, this magical man Silky Ray came over and gave me a stack of amazing classic blues albums. BB King live in cook county jail, Pearl Baily, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Eddie Harris, Albert Collins.... man.... then he got on the mic and just blew up this radio! What a booming voice! He was dropping some amazing 2-liner rhymes like support 97.5 to keep the blues alive. My god. It's like the blues gods sent down an angel or something. He wasnts to do a gospel music show on Sundays... wow... He calls himself Silky Ray. No joke. LOL :D
FINAL UPDATE I did it! F it, let's go another 24 hours! Woooo!
No. I'm tired. Sorry for the sloppy typing here towards the end. Getting a little careless. Now I get to pack up all the equipment and go home, which should take another hour or so. I'll really be up for at least 50 hours total.
Thanks very much for all of the questions! Thank you to everyone who sent us a donation! We made over $2,500 (including some cash donations we received at the barbershop). I think that's a great amount. I was thinking maybe I aimed a little too high with the original request. This ensures we have a great runway to get this station off the ground for good. Hopefully I never have to do this again! It was a great experience. I met a ton of interesting people, got to hang with some really cool musicians, and got together a plan of attack that is going to carry us into 2017 and beyond. Thanks again everyone for hanging out with me!!
97.5 - We're keeping the blues alive! (Silky Ray came up with that)