Southern soul sounds now broadcast throughout Cenla Louisiana after Jerry Williams recently purchased two FM radio stations in Alexandria and changed their programming. Rhythm and blues play on the newly formatted KMXH Mix 93.9 FM radio station, while hip-hop urban music rides the airwaves from the newly formatted KBCE Jamz 102.3 FM.
Music rolls through a person’s soul and touches him on a level that mere spoken words cannot, Williams muses, thinking about his 30-year love affair with the business of radio. “I’ve ‘played’ radio for 30 years, and radio has afforded me the type of life style where I can move around a lot,” laughs Williams, the president and general manager of JWBP Broadcasting.
Growing up in Houma, Williams recalls that while he was in high school he use to “hang out” at a local radio station. As a linebacker and captain of the football team, he even tried his luck with being an on-the-air personality. But soon, Williams realized his talents were in radio ad sales. After high school, he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in business management from Southern University in Baton Rouge. “I knew I wanted to pursue a business in radio, but my first job right out of college was selling Dodge and Chrysler cars in Houma,” Williams recalls, but added that job provided him with a foundation of building a career in sales.
After working for a few years in broadcasting in Virginia, Williams got a big break in the radio music industry with Sun Group Radio in Shreveport when he became the sales manager. His radio career took off and he eventually landed a position in a major radio market in New Orleans. As the general sales manager for Clear Channel Radio in New Orleans, Williams expanded the station’s account list by more than 425 percent in 36 months. He sold advertising for three radio stations with the same type of format he currently owns. With his success in advertising sales, Williams also started his own ad agency in New Orleans. Things were going smoothly in his life, then Hurricane Katrina hit the crescent city. “I lost everything I owned when Katrina hit. I lost my four-bedroom home and everything in it. What I could salvage, I loaded up in the back of a pick-up truck and decided to move back to Shreveport,” Williams remembers.
However, before he got settled in Shreveport, he was offered a job to run two radio stations in Alexandria. “Ironically, it was at the two radio stations I now own. And I doubled the revenue in 90 days,” Williams says, adding that he later left to take a job in Shreveport. He became the sales manager for Access 1 Communications and continued to specialize in urban R & B, hip hop and gospel music at the radio stations in Shreveport. “Urban is black music,” Williams notes.
With his successful track record as a turnaround specialist in the radio advertising industry, Williams stepped out last May to seize a business opportunity he had always dreamed about. He, along with one investor, bought two FM radio stations in Alexandria, stations he had previously worked at. Overhauling the two stations in preparation of their new format took time. Williams says he has made significant improvements in the stations’ engineering, satellite transmission, software, computer technology and programming. New deejays were hired, and the two stations are gaining in popularity, according to demographic research studies. Recording artists like Beyoncé may be heard on both of the stations, where Lil Wayne would be more likely to be heard on B102 Jamz as it is geared toward the younger urban set. Mix 93.9 is contemporary urban music which features R & B, blues, zydeco, gospel and top-recording artists like Mary J. Blige. “Everything we play is a hit,” Williams adds.
The listeners reflect a diversity, Williams notes, with 70 percent black listeners and 30 percent white listeners. “We are expanding. I am very excited to be here in Alexandria, and we have completed the turn-around process at the stations,” Williams says. Besides several syndicated popular radio shows, Williams says he has hired popular local talent to serve as deejays. T Bygum, who deejays, is also the new program director at the station. The radio station’s offices are located at 1605 Murray Street in Alexandria. “We want to become a big part of the communities in Central Louisiana,” Williams notes, adding that the radio station has become widely known as being “very pro-small business” and “active” in the communities.
The stations recently sponsored a “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day” and partnered with several local organizations to provide backpack supplies for school children. In addition, the two stations participate in food drives for the Food Bank and provide public service announcements for non-profit organizations.
Since moving to Alexandria, Williams himself has become active in several community organizations to “give back.” He serves as vice president of the Central Louisiana Business League and is the chairman of the Small Business Council of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce. An active Rotary member, Williams also serves on the board of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “I’m expecting nothing but good things for Central Louisiana. I am hoping to build a radio network and base everything here in Alexandria,” Williams notes, adding that he hopes everyone in Cenla turns on their radio and checks out the two new FM stations. “That would be music to my ears,” he laughs.
For more information on the new urban stations, call (318) 445-0800.