Utica area listeners will hear a new kind of radio starting early this summer as Utica Phoenix Radio- also to be known as “The Heat” – goes on the air. Phoenix Radio will be at 1550 on the AM dial, and 95.5 FM, covering a 25-mile radius out from Utica. It will be the first mix of music, news, and talk to appeal to both the general and the international population in this area.
The Phoenix format will be an urban-oriented collection from the top 40 and hip-hop charts of today and the past years. But Phoenix Radio will also include programming for the Latino, Polish, Italian, Bosnian, and the pan-Asian audiences, with more programming, such as African, Native American, to come. A daily morning talk show, hosted by Program Director, Mercedies “the Gentleman Benz” will appeal especially to those who have not – and have never had – a voice on local issues.
CEO and station owner Cassandra Harris-Lockwood commented that “Until a people can frame the conversation, they cannot win the conversation. For far too long, radio talk shows have been led by White men discussing the matters or ignoring the matters of non-White people. Phoenix Radio’s “The Truth Be Told,” will remedy that situation locally.
Phoenix Radio will also feature national news from American Urban Radio Network, the only Black news source in place in the White House press pool. We are very excited to bring these elements to this community.”
A children’s music segment is planned daily for the 10 AM time slot and a local agriculture and farm to table program is also under development.
Program Director Mercedies Harris added this about the music. “It was said to me by my past associates ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done…You’ll keep getting what you’ve always got’…change is choice and we’ve made it our number 1.”
Mr. Harris has an extensive background in the music and media industry. Currently, he is an NYS A&R representative for Rock Mass Music/Sony Distribution and is CEO of MGM Music Group, his own label. His reach into the contemporary music scene enables him to draw from a broad array of talent for performance as well as direct emerging artists to active participation in the music industry.
Harris’s addition will energize and transform the local music scene by bringing digital distribution to unsigned artists locally and nationally, providing a worldwide platform right from Utica, NY.
According to the major trade publication, Billboard Magazine, the urban format today is now the most popular music in America. Phoenix Radio Production Director, Mercedies Harris, has just contracted with the owners of Cumulus Broadcasting and Westwood One for music content, to be added to all station broadcast.
Other local media outlets source NBC, CBS, ABC, or PBS for their national news. Phoenix Radio will source American Urban Radio Network, AURN, which is the only Black news source in the Whitehouse Pressroom.
With an urban format, Phoenix Radio will be the only local broadcaster offering programming outside of the country, oldies, and top 40. Currently, Phoenix Radio can be heard on Tune In @ WUPR95.5theHeat.dk or connect from the Utica Phoenix website www.uticaphoenix.net and click on Phoenix Radio.
Station manager and longtime media operative, Dave Krause, promises, ‘’Phoenix Radio will bring back the service and results that local businesses need for their advertising dollars.’’
The AM station, 1550, started as WBVM in 1962 and was owned by Mike and Danny Fusco. BVM stood for Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, the station primarily served the Catholic Italian audience, with saying the Rosary every morning, and music for the Frank Sinatra generation.
However, decades later the station went off the air under the call letters WUSP. Today engineers are working to restore and upgrade service. That tower, with newly blinking top light, on Oriskany Blvd in Utica, will feed the FM station at 95.5, which is located near the Smith Hill TV towers. Programming will begin early this summer.
Remote broadcasts, featuring local music and artists on the air who otherwise would have no opportunity for radio airplay are planned. Other new, or returning ideas, will be live concerts promoted by “The Heat” 95.5 FM will take place throughout the area.
Production and broadcast studios are being currently being constructed upstairs at the main office of the Utica Phoenix at 1113 Linwood Place, home offices of the monthly publication Utica Phoenix.
Legendary “Father of Hip Hop” T Ski Valley famous for his single “Catch the Beat,” is today a high-end contractor in NYC. T Ski also happens to be cousin of Program Director Mercedies Harris. T Ski Valley and his contracting team will soon begin the build-out of the sound and production studios on the second floor.
This development will bring a new energy and relevance to the Corn Hill district, much as Motown brought a new energy to Detroit. It also will demonstrate the deepening ties between this new African American start-up in our midst and the many successful Black entertainers and media businesses men and women throughout our country.
A free sample can be heard from our on-line BETA right now, by going to https://stream.radio.co/s8cdb7071c/listen. TURN IT UP and ENJOY.
In the meantime, Phoenix Radio is preparing for grand opening early this summer, June 2018.