WSIC is featured in the May 7 issue of RadioInk magazine, a publication focusing on radio industry management and marketing. A version of the article appears below. It may be slightly different from the print publication due to final edits.
It’s about 7:15 on a ‘typical’ weekday when WSIC morning host Harold Johnson delves into his new “Fifties Trivia” segment. His sidekick, who’s also the station’s GM, asks the 76-year-old host what fish became popular to eat live in the 1950s. Nothing short of an air-check could describe the hilarity that ensues as numerous hints lead Harold to guess the adjective “gold,” only to be incapable of quickly connecting it with the word fish to answer the question: “gold fish.” This unrehearsed comedy is what listeners have come to love about the show which also features political rants branded as “positive radio” and regular callers like Harold’s priest.
Less than two hours later, Pat Shannon is behind the mic to host “Home Ad,” which can be likened to an on-air yard sale. The show has seen everything from “a lawnmower in excellent condition that won’t run” to someone advertising a home-based coffee shop. One listener apparently got married with the show’s help. “You may want to hold on to that love seat,” Pat advised the caller who was trying to sell one the day he also announced he was looking for a date.
While the aforementioned equals radio gold for listeners, it hardly gives a complete picture of the station which celebrated 70 years in Statesville, North Carolina last year. Located north of Charlotte, the 1000 watt AM news talk station now boasts an FM translator and has plans to add a second. While many would relegate the station to just another small-town operation, what WSIC has accomplished considering its size and location is nothing short of incredible.
The station doesn’t buy ratings info, but has been told by agencies that it’s getting impressive listenership results considering its signal size. With a sales team of three and an entrepreneurial minded staff, WSIC is pulling significant dollar numbers as well. Management is also in the process of adding television signals in the Charlotte and Greensboro/High Point/ Winston-Salem DMAs (markets 23 and 48). WSIC’s TV product already appears with a local cable provider and has spent time over-the-air from a Statesville signal. And, about that morning host who couldn’t guess “gold fish”… he’s a four-time Emmy Award winner who once helped take Charlotte’s WSOC-TV to the number one spot.
So, how are they doing it? To say WSIC thinks outside the box wouldn’t be enough. “What box?” says station owner Mark Sanger. “The problem with saying ‘we think outside the box’ is that you’re still referencing everything back to the box.” Sixty percent of WSIC’s staffers are on their first radio jobs. That includes General Manager Brian Weiss who brought the station from near bankruptcy to the success it enjoys today. “I think the fact we’re industry outsiders is key to our achievements,” says Brian. “We’re not bound by the way the industry has always done it.”
Assistant Manager and News Director Chris Hoke, who leads development of WSIC’s TV product, recently published a book about station’s successes and his unique start in broadcasting. The Dorm Room Newsroom tells readers of how Chris once created the station’s newscasts from his dorms while attending college. “I’m incredibly proud of this station,” says Chris. “The ingenuity behind it is inspiring. When we don’t have a particular feature, tool or option we build the solution ourselves. Nothing gets in our way.”
With eyes set on radio and TV expansions, the team at WSIC continues implementing its unique outsider’s perspective that has brought success. Plans are in the works for additional on-air and technical upgrades, plus there’s talk of a reality show based on the station and its staff.