Don Worthington

Fort Mill man can’t escape the airwaves over 30-year radio career

Every time Jack Anthony thinks he has broken away from radio, it draws him back in.

He’s been in the businesses for more than 30 years.

As a media arts major at the University of South Carolina, he worked at WUSC. Officials at WSCQ, an adult contemporary station in Columbia, liked what they heard and offered him first a weekend, then a full-time gig.

Adult contemporary at the time was the likes of Kenny Rogers and the 5th Dimension, and the shows were recorded on reel-to-reel tape. Anthony talked during the breaks and sometimes over the music.

In the Charlotte market, he’s worked for WRFX (99.7 FM), “The Fox,” and WEND (106.5 FM), “The End.” He currently does “Night Radio” at 95.7 FM, the Ride, in Charlotte.

When Clear Channel Radio let him go several years ago, he formed his own production company doing voiceovers, commercials and jingles. He marketed his services as the “Studio at the End of Universe,” but in reality it was just at the end of his Fort Mill street, with the studio in what was once a second-floor bedroom.

Yet even a barefoot commute from breakfast table to bedroom studio couldn’t keep Anthony away from radio.

When Spirit Broadcasting purchased WFBK, a 140-watt FM station with limited coverage in the Fort Mill area, Anthony asked the owners if he could program it.

WFBK went on the air in August 2012 and was just beginning to break even when Spirit sold the station to Radio Training Network.

The sale came just one day after Anthony received his foundation incorporation papers. He had formed a nonprofit corporation to buy the station.

When the Radio Training Network changed the station call letters and format to contemporary Christian, Anthony worked a deal where he kept the WFBK name. One day it was a 140-watt FM station, the next day WFBK.org was a 24-hour, adult contemporary public radio station on the Internet. Anthony’s commute remained the walk from breakfast table to converted bedroom.

A man who likes challenges, Anthony couldn’t resist the opportunity. It is what has kept him coming back to radio.

Being an Internet-only station offers lots of challenges. There are “millions of choices” when it comes to Internet listening, Anthony said. People have to make a conscious choice to log in, unlike over-the-air radio where people can push the scan button in their receiver until they hear something they like.

Anthony said WFBK.org has kept its listeners and its sponsors.

While music airs most of the time, Anthony insists WFBK.org is “not a jukebox.”

He points to his morning show. It’s a classic example of “long-form” radio where Anthony interviews authors and newsmakers. His favorite interview was with Harry Shearer of Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, where he plays 21 characters.

“We are both snarky,” Anthony said.

While the station has concentrated on the Fort Mill “scene,” Anthony said he hopes to expand the scope to Rock Hill and Lancaster. Moving the studio out of his house may be part of that expansion, he said.

Ultimately, WFBK.org’s future is up to its supporters.

“As a community station, we provide what the community wants,” Anthony said. “With more support, there can be more programming.”

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