Thursday, May 1, 2003

Stepchild Radio WAIF find new home



After 27 years, the Stepchild finally has a home of its own.

Nonprofit Stepchild Radio of Cincinnati, known to listeners as WAIF-FM (88.3), dedicates new studios at 1434 E. McMillan St., East Walnut Hills, at noon Saturday.

The station moved out of its windowless basement Alms Hill Apartments space, the old WKRC-AM studios, last week.

The new one-floor brick building, 3 1/2 blocks away, was purchased in December for $150,000, says Lee Elliott, station manager and board member.

The two new broadcast studios have been outfitted with new control boards and four new compact disc players, he says.

"The studios are as modern as any here in the city. The difference is that it's all be done with volunteer help," says Donald Shabazz, board chairman.

Another difference between WAIF-FM and every other station in town is the programming variety on the station. It airs rock, rap, reggae, R&B, bluegrass, jazz, Cajun, Christian rock and gospel programs, plus weekly Greek, Latin American, African, Italian, Indian, gay-lesbian and Alcoholics Anonymous programs.

"This is the most diverse station in the city. We have 70 different programs on our regular schedule. I don't think Clear Channel has that many," says Shabazz, a mortgage broker who hosts Final Call, a Nation of Islam talk show 6-7 p.m. Friday.

WAIF-FM volunteers share the frequency with WJVS-FM, a student station operated 6 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays by the Great Oaks Institute of Technology & Career Development. The 88.3 frequency becomes even more eclectic in the summer, when WAIF-FM fills the airwaves 24 /7.

Elliott, a bluegrass musician who has hosted Cuttin' the Grass 8-11 a.m. Saturdays since 1998, found the property through the Internet. He had threatened to leave the station in recent years when efforts stalled to find a new facility.

"We had a board meeting, and I told them: 'If we're not going to get out of the Alms, I'm just going to take my records and go home, because there doesn't seem to be much of a future here,' " he recalls saying.

The future is now, and the public is invited to see it. WAIF-FM will hold an open house noon-4 p.m. Saturday with music by Rob Ervin & the High Strung Lifters, Ricky Nye, Charles Collier and the Goldenaires, Abiyah, Niran Al-Ubadi and a local all-star bluegrass band.

WAIF-FM board members are counting on the new building to attract new members for the $35,000 spring fund drive through May 11. Annual memberships start at $15.

"When people see this, they will come to the conclusion that the funds have been well spent, and that WAIF-FM has a purpose in the community," Shabazz says. "This is really the fulfillment of the vision of many, many people. We'll be away from that basement mentality."

With the big party just two days away, Elliott worries about all the facility being cleaned up in time.

"We've got a lot of work to do before Saturday. I'm really starting to get into panic mode," Elliott says.

"This move shouldn't have taken so long. But when you've got an all-volunteer organization, nobody has the time," he says. "And you can't fire them, because everyone is a volunteer."

NBC news: Richard Engel, the ABC free-lancer who was the only reporter to cover the entire war from Baghdad for an American TV network, has been hired as a full-time correspondent by NBC.

Engel, 29, who also has reported for the BBC World Service, Public Radio International, USA Today and Reuters, will cover the Middle East from Baghdad.

Drain promoted: Cincinnati native Margaret Drain, executive producer of PBS' award-winning American Experience, will leave the show produced at Boston's WGBH-TV to become vice president of national programming at the station. The 1963 graduate of old Ursuline Academy in Walnut Hills will oversee production of Antiques Roadshow, American Experience, Frontline, Nova, Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre.

Musical note: Jewel performs on the Today show summer concert series Friday (7-10 a.m., Channels 5, 22).

TV today: Macaulay Culkin plays Karen's (Megan Mullally) attorney on a 45-minute Will & Grace (9 p.m., Channels 5, 22).

A 15-minute Scrubs clip show fills the hour.

WB's Jamie Kennedy Experiment ends a second season with the comedian strip-searching Texas night club patrons (8-9:30 p.m., Channels 64, 48).

Talk shows: Today's guests from TV Data:

Live with Regis and Kelly (9 a.m., Channel 9): Lil' Kim.

Wayne Brady (10 a.m., Channel 9): Jane Kaczmarek, Jonathan Silverman, KC & the Sunshine Band.

The View (11 a.m., Channel 9): Janeane Garofalo, Bernie Mac.

Caroline Rhea (3 p.m., Channel 19): Alec Baldwin, Carl Reiner.


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Get to it!