SUN CITY CENTER: Four years of community service

Published on: June 13, 2018

Sun Radio:

Four years of community service

By PHYLLIS HODGES

June 1, 2018, was a big day for Sun Radio WSCQ 96.3 FM. It was celebrating the station’s fourth birthday. Since it was National Donut Day as well, the staff gathered for a donut party to commemorate the occasion.  

Sun Radio General Manager Peter Swartz is proud of his Sun Radio team. Some you hear on the air, some you don’t; but they are all essential to the station’s smooth operation. From front left: Swartz, Bob Dealmeida, Jeanne Wadlin, Crystal Frank. Back: Vern Hendricks, Elysa Hendricks (with mascot Panda), Brenda Vavrina, Tony Ford, Robin Watt, Peg Goodenow, Kevin Goodenow, Uta Kuhn, Joe Kerska and Bill Hodges. Not pictured: Pamela Varkony, Rita Hale, Kathie Koren.
PHYLLIS HODGES PHOTO

General Manager Peter Swartz said the team’s “big” birthday celebration will come July 26 when the entire staff will be treated to a Manatee River cruise with Riverside Tours of Palmetto. In fact, they are inviting 12 lucky listeners to join them. From now to July 13, listeners can send birthday wishes to the station at: Sun Radio, P. O. Box 5063, Sun City Center, FL 33571 to enter drawings to be held July 18, 19, and 20 (four each day). Entries can be cards or simply a paper with your name and contact information. (See tour details at www.riversidetoursinc.com) 

Reminiscing a bit, Swartz said Sun Radio has been his best radio experience — and he has a lot since he has started eight radio stations over the past 35 years. He is pleased about how far the station has come over the past four years and how highly it is regarded in the community. High on the station’s achievements are the cadre of 16 loyal volunteers. “Turnover is very low because we pick good people, and let them do their jobs,” he said. He also points to the 20 sponsors currently underwriting all available programming spots and noted that the three original sponsors — Bay Services Corp. (Locksmith), M&M Printing Co. and West Coast Golf Cars — are still with them. The operation also expanded physical space by moving to its current location on Council Drive in Sun City Center in January 2016. They started in what they call “the closet” in the corporate building near CVS in SCC. There, they had a 100-square-foot space; now they have 850 square feet.  The station became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization last year. 

Not to be overlooked is the fact that the listener base is growing.  Vern Hendricks, program manager, said that Sun Radio draws from a pool of 70,000 or so who live in its service radius. Not only do they listen in their homes and cars, he knows a lot listen online at www.wscqfm.com because Sun Radio hears about it quickly if something goes awry with the site. As programmer, he relishes feedback on community preferences. Citing examples of how feedback drives programming, he pointed out two new additions — “Night Songs,” which airs in the evening, a direct result of requests for soothing evening music and the popular “Veterans Corner” program that focuses on issues of interest to the area’s thousands of veterans. 

Asked about challenges of the station, Swartz said they continually work on letting people know they are here. To that end, the team is often seen at community events broadcasting remotely. Another challenge is finding just the right volunteers for the tasks that need to be done. Currently, they are seeking volunteers with a high level of computer expertise and those willing to do “behind-the-scenes” work, such as gathering information.   

Programming schedules and other station information can be found at www.wscqfm.com website, and its Facebook page —WSCQ 96.3 FM.  For information about volunteer opportunities or the station’s operation, contact Swartz at peter@wscqfm.com, or call 513-294-5916.

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