Independent radio station fights for survival

Carlton Fletcher, The Albany Herald, Ga.
·3 min read

Feb. 23—ALBANY — Forget all that "Eye of the Tiger" stuff. For Tara Dyer Stoyle and local independent radio station WQFP, Q-102 the Queen Bee, this Sunday's Honey Jam is truly about being among the survivors.

With a helping hand from local artists whose works have been promoted by and played on the station, Stoyle and Q-102 are hosting a benefit show Sunday at Pretoria Fields Brewery, in whose building the station is located. It's not, Stoyle said, an attempt to sock away more money or to purchase elaborate equipment.

"This is purely about survival," the Queen Bee station manager said. "If we're not able to bring in more money for operations, we're not going to be able to keep the doors open. We spent our first year building a very loyal and supportive audience. But we have to have advertisers and sponsors. COVID hit us hard, just as it did the small businesses that would support our station with their advertising dollars, and now we find ourselves struggling."

Members of one of Albany's favorite bands, BoDean and the Poachers — whose Sunday-afternoon show "Pickin' With the Poachers" is a station favorite — got with Stoyle and kicked around ideas on how to increase revenue. Poachers lead singer/guitarist Brandon Fox suggested a benefit show, and he recruited local artists willing to donate their time and talents.

The Honey Jam, which kicks off at 1 p.m., will feature Hannah Barnes, Evergreen Family Band, the Page Brothers Band, BoDean and the Poachers and Riley Anderson. It promises to be a rare treat for local music lovers who have been pretty much in lockdown mode since COVID took root a year ago. There is — oddly enough for a fundraiser — no cover charge to attend Honey Jam, but contributions will be accepted. Also, a portion of beer sales during the day will be earmarked for the station.

Food trucks will be on hand, and Queen Bee paraphernalia will be available for purchase.

Stoyle said she understands that most small businesses are under similar financial constraints during the virus. But she says some are concerned only about their own well-being.

"Like a lot of small local businesses, we did not qualify for PPP money, so we're getting no help," she said. "And I find it sad that there are a lot of businesses around here who say 'support local business,' but what they're actually saying is 'support my business.' Because they don't support local businesses like ours. I can promise you, the people who advertise with our station, I go out of my way to personally support them."

Stoyle said losing the Queen Bee station would be a travesty, and not just from a personal standpoint.

"I love what we've built with this station, but more than that I love the response we've gotten from a growing list of listeners," she said. "We get calls from more and more people every day who say there's no other station like this anywhere around. Most of them say, 'I can't believe there's a radio station like this right here in Albany.'

"We're going to do everything we can to keep building what we've started with Q-102. We appreciate everyone who listens and ask that you come out Sunday for Honey Jam for a good time. It'll be outdoors, in the brewery courtyard, but it's a rain-or-shine event. If the weather is bad, we'll move things inside. I just hope this lets people know how serious our situation is and that those who can will help support us so we can keep independent radio alive in southwest Georgia."

Anyone interested in donating to the station or advertising may call Stoyle at (229) 206-0900 or email tstoyle@pretoriafields.com.