There is a new radio station in Central New York. It is Phoenix Radio at WUSP 1550 AM and 95.5FM the Heat. It is the first and only Black-owned and operated-radio station in Central New York. This new addition to the local music scene is very familiar to Millennials. The format is classic Hip Hop, R&B, and Jazz.
Prior to the launch of WUSP, the Urban themed radio listener had only Pandora and Sirius Satellite radio to satisfy their musical desires.
Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, the longtime CEO of For The Good and Editor-in-chief of independent newsmagazine the Utica Phoenix, purchased the station along with WRCK 1480 AM in Remsen and two additional FM translators in 2016.
In addition, Phoenix Radio will offer out of the box talk shows. Harris-Lockwood says, “People of color are more often talked about than included in local media conversations. On Phoenix Radio, Native Americans, Latinos and Blacks will have the opportunity to frame conversations which for centuries have been out of our control.”
Shortly after a Juneteenth Jazz event in 2016, Harris-Lockwood was crying in her car in the driveway of her office disappointed at the turnout of the fundraiser. She complained to Ken Roser, owner of Roser Communications, that none of the local radio stations had aired the well-made 30 second PSA promoting the Jazz event.
Not one known for her tears, Harris-Lockwood voiced her frustration that people of color lack access to mainstream media outlets for their messages, music and incidentally, the money that it brings. She cried, “We need you White guys to help us.”
Roser replied, “You don’t need us, White guys, you need your own radio station.”
Harris-Lockwood’s tears immediately dried up. “What?” she asked.
That’s when Ken Roser told her of the opportunity to purchase two AM radio and one FM stations.
A bold move by a neophyte radio owner-operator, Harris-Lockwood says, “Well, I figured I know how to run a business so, one that actually makes money has to be easier than a not for profit.”
The older entrepreneur went on to explain, “I know that there is a learning curve to the radio business but, I grew up in a household with of techno-medical family culture. My father was an Aerospace Engineer and my mother was an Operating/ER nurse.
“My siblings and I all grew up with a familiarity with science and math, with an emphasis on process, procedure, and precision. I grew up with tools in my hands and learned how
to use them. Our father was a Ham operator. I used to know Morse Code. I’m not afraid of terms like frequencies, modulators, capacitors, traffic or even transmission towers. That being said, there’s a lot to this business and I’m grateful to have developed a team of seasoned professionals to help me build its development.”
Harris-Lockwood has managed to attract a rare team of skilled operatives which operates out of the combined efficiency of the not for profit offices downstairs and the state of the art production and broadcast studios upstairs.
Seasoned radio broadcaster, Community Activist and Sony A&R representative, Mercedies Aziz Harris is Program Director. Longtime regional radio and television businessman, David Krause is Operations Consultant. Electron Chaser and house magician, Chet Bottorff is Station Engineer. Native Utican and multitalented businesswoman Theresa Mancuso serve as both Office and Sales Manager. Jon Mansberger of KreativeMedium is handling marketing, branding, and social media. Domonick Pennicote is in charge of the physical plant.
The Heat Squad lineup is:6AM-10AM: The morning talk show, ‘Let the Truth Be Told’, is anchored by Mercedies “The Gentleman Benz” and Prime Minister “Lew Fresh” with special appearances by ‘Big Country” and Theresa “Lady T” Mancuso Monday through Friday.
The morning show kicks off with Sports by G Man at 6 AM, 12 PM, & 6 PM: Bryson ‘Big B’ Collins, hosts the ‘Hot Lunch’ at noon Monday through Friday. And returns at 6 PM with G Man and Sports for The Heat Flow 5 PM-6 PM: Phoenix Radio CEO Cassandra Harris-Lockwood hosts the afternoon talk show “The Hot Seat” Monday through Thursday.
10 PM-2 AM George “Butter” Buchanan spins the Quiet Storm from Monday through Thursday. 7PM-9PM: Friday Meltdown Bobby “Bounce DJ 808” Surprenant, Lew “Fresh AKA Prime EZ” Johnson host The Friday Meltdown. They are followed at 9PM-11PM by Jerome “DJ MCK,” McKinsey.
7 PM-10 PM: Saturday nights the Spanish community’s singular radio operative Adolfo Cova last heard in 2014, will hold down the Tropical Heat El Calor music format. It will be preceded by Spanish community forum from 6-7PM.
1 PM to 6 PM: And last but not least on the weekly roster is Masters of Jazz with Lou Santacroce airing Sundays. “My crew has overcome every obstacle we’ve had to and are still overcoming others,” said Harris-Lockwood “When I was made aware of the opportunity to purchase the radio stations I knew I couldn’t afford “not” to go for it. I had never dreamed of owning and operating a radio station but, having been in the media industry for most of my adult life I knew it was the thing to do. I hope that I can be an example for those out there who have forgotten how to dream and those who don’t recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. Don’t let go of your dreams but keep in mind it usually takes a lot of work to make them come true. The reward is hereafter recognizing the opportunity, a lot of sacrifices, hard work, and application of hard earned skills. Plenty of people told me it would never happen but here we are with the hottest station in the market. “