PUBLISHED AUG. 11, 2016
By LISA STARK
Celebrating its first anniversary of broadcasting to the SouthShore community, WPHX 101.9 “The Phoenix” Community Radio will host an evening of live music and dancing on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. Open to the public, the evening’s musical entertainment will be headed up by Victoria Ginty and Ladyhawke, in what Ginty describes as a “laid-back social atmosphere, like a bar with a dance floor.”
Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available, and a silent auction featuring items from some of the area’s top local businesses will be held. Other musical guests will join in the evening of fun and relaxation, including Kozmic Pearl and Taylor John. A suggested donation of $20 at the door will benefit the WPHX operating fund.
Located in Ruskin, WPHX is a non-commercial, low-frequency community radio station that started as a project of the Firehouse Cultural Center. It is one of the few stations in the country attached to a cultural center — and the only one with a mission to serve the local community with an arts, culture, education and community license and mission.
“It’s definitely been a labor of love,” said Sandy Council, WPHX advisory board chairwoman, describing the birth of the radio station under what seemed to be insurmountable odds. “It took some dedicated people and a lot of luck to get this project up and running.”
Currently, the station broadcasts primarily classic rock from the ’70s and ’80s, said chief operator and engineer Jeff Knauff, but they are looking to expand genres and to include local history, arts and culture. Knauff drew on his experience in audio recording to help develop WPHX. Within its first year of operation, the station has joined Pacifica Radio, which offers syndicated radio programs that provide a wide variety of programming options.
“We want to develop more programming that will involve local musicians and guests,” Knauff said. “We would like to hear their stories of how they developed their musical styles and give a historical emphasis to our programming.”
Knauff, a life-long musician himself, is still actively writing and recording music at his Gibsonton studio (The Parsonage) with fellow musician Eddie James, with whom he shares current releases available on iTunes.
Marking it first anniversary, WPHX plans to host a number of concerts and radio shows in upcoming months at the Firehouse Cultural Center. “We really want to get the word out that we want local shows and would love to have people come forward,” said Sandy Council. “Even if they’ve never been on the radio before, we can help them develop and refine their ideas.”
Council points out that since the station is nonprofit, it will depend on the community to keep it broadcasting. The fundraiser on Aug. 20 is one effort toward this goal. “This is a community radio station. It belongs to everyone in South County,” said Council.
“We need people who have skills and want to learn something new,” said Programming Manager, Preston Poe, explaining that in addition to songwriters and musicians, WPHX is seeking volunteers with skills in editing, public relations and fundraising.
The Firehouse Cultural Center is a nonprofit visual and performing cultural center, providing quality programming in arts and education for all ages. FCC programs encourage participation, engagement, discovery and learning while offering connections to the unique history, culture and natural environment of the south region of Hillsborough County.
WPHX 101.9 is located at the Firehouse Cultural Center, 101 First Ave. N.E. in Ruskin.
For more information about WPHX radio, visit wphx1019.org, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/wphx1019.