DECATUR — They call themselves “The People’s Station.”
Decatur’s newest radio station, WLLULP 107.9, is focused on highlighting the area with positive and encouraging information.
The radio personalities hope to reach a variety of audiences with topics that include veterans issues, health subjects, jazz music, community discussions, youth and education and an inventor’s show.
“The station is dedicated to the community,” said Alex Martin, radio engineer for Love, Life Community Radio or WLLULP.
The station has invited members of the Decatur Fire Department, the mayor, chief of police and medical personnel on the air as local guests.
Saturdays are dedicated to youth with broadcasts and topics close to students. Past guests have included representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois, librarians and schools, as well as contemporary Christian music DJs.
Martin said he listens to the community and learns what they want to hear. “We do a lot of different things,” he said.
Pam Martin, Alex Martin's wife, is the radio personality for the Thursday afternoon show “Soulful You.”
Her show is geared towards Christian women. “It is a spiritual, soulful, motivational, encouraging show,” she said. “I also play my fun music.”
The subtitle of the weekly show is “Know the value of your soul.” She ends each show with a phrase or motivational saying, under the segment called “Think about it.”
“I leave them with a thought,” she said. “If you are having a bad day, you want to have some encouraging words.”
After airing just six shows so far, Pam Martin said she has already heard positive feedback. “We are getting ourselves known,” she said. “We just need people to come together for support.”
She is looking for sponsors, guests and co-hosts to discuss important subjects with her audience.
“Once you know what you are going to talk about, then it is free-flow,” she said.
WLLULP, which has sought 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, celebrated its first anniversary in January. The staff obtained an FCC license to operate a low-power FM station before they went on the air.
The station is operated through donations. Although the station has gained a positive reputation with listeners, it still needs community support, he said.
“We need new equipment,” Martin said. “And we are in need of a building.” WLLULP is currently housed in a small building in the 300 block of West Prairie Avenue.
The staff is also looking for more regular programming, inviting local schools and organizations to take part.
“We need to reach the people,” Martin said.
Jarmese Sherrod, media program adviser for Richland Community College, said she brings her students to WLLULP for experience and live broadcasts.
“We make sure the students have opportunities for exposure,” Sherrod said. “The radio shows are learning for them. The students will do stories and write scripts. They are responsible to for getting the show together.”
The students gain experience allowing them to go on to other colleges. “That leads them to graduation and a marketable career,” Sherrod said.
Shawn Garner, 25, a communications student at Richland, is studying to be a sportscaster. He has been on the air at WLLULP twice. “It was my first time on the radio,” he said. “It was exciting. I chose the right career.”
He has been invited back on the air anytime he wants. “I would talk about random sports news,” Garner said.
Keyrai Page, 20, is the president of the media club at Richland. She said the group understands that it is important to not only find media opportunities, but to be a positive influence. “We love our media, but we also love our community,” Page said.
The club not only learns about their craft, but also the importance of volunteering, having spent time at the Salvation Army and animal shelters. “We are all over the place,” Page said. “We are always active and brainstorming new ideas for our community.”
Page has experience running the sound board as well as directing young guests before they are on the air. “I crack jokes, I dance, I do anything to make them comfortable around me,” she said. “I also show them that I can mess up too and it’s okay.”
As a Heartland Tech Academy student, Austen Deverell, 18, visits the radio station to promote businesses and organizations. “I am in entrepreneurship,” he said. “Through that we learn how to advertise your stuff on the internet, radio advertisements, commercial advertisements.”
Deverell credits WLLULP for giving him a realistic approach to his education. “This is equipment I couldn’t imagine using,” he said. “This seems like a great group of individuals. I love the message they are giving out.”
Deverell and Karl Coleman interviewed various community members during a promotional event at the station. They spoke with politicians, veterans and Salvation Army representatives. “It is in order to see how they can use the community in order to make it better and to express their views and goals,” Deverell said.
Robert Edwards is the assistant city librarian the Decatur Public Library. He has been on air at WLLULP, promoting the project Next Generation and other projects. “We introduce the youth to new technology,” he said.
The station has been used to promote many youth programs and topics. Sherrod and other organizers invited community members, such as Edwards, to discuss important issues and focuses.
“Alexander Martin has been great working with us to give us this platform and make sure the word gets out,” Edwards said. “We feel comfortable; no restraints.”
Martin and the radio station staff say they will continue to reach the community with interesting and important information as the station grows.
“We just keep working with the community,” Martin said. “Positive things and what people have in the community, that’s what we want on the station.”