Businessman and former councilman Big John donates WELE-AM to university
BY JAMES HARPER
Bethune-Cookman University will be the owner and operator of WELE-AM, a commercial station licensed to Ormond Beach and serving all of East Volusia – that is upon the approval of the Federal Communications Commission.
B-CU President Edison O. Jackson confirmed in a press release that the university would accept the donation of radio station WELE-AM from its owner Big John, a former Volusia County Councilman.
Jackson said B-CU will be able to expand its involvement in the community – something that was first envisioned by founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
Towers, equipment donated
Big John is donating the station’s South Nova Road studios, towers and equipment to the university. Goliath Radio has been providing programming for the station.
Bethune-Cookman will begin operation of the station upon FCC approval of applications filed recently to transfer the license from Wings Communications, which has held the license since the 1980s.
The exact value of Big John’s donation is expected to be near $1 million.
“I think we’ve done well with our programming over the last three years in presenting programming that appeals to many segments of the community, but I think Bethune-Cookman and President Jackson can do more and make it a win-win operation for the University and the Community,” Big John said in the statement.
Opportunities for students
Jackson said the radio station will help the university make the surrounding communities aware of its contributions and opportunities.
The radio station also will create jobs in operation and management for graduates and part-time opportunities for students.
WELE has provided live coverage of Wildcat football and basketball games at home and on the road along with other sports and informational programming.
“We know that broadcast of our football and basketball games are a great tool for reaching our graduates,” B-CU Athletic Director Lynn Thompson said.
Jackson said he anticipates a continuation of thought-provoking programming under B-CU administration and plans are in the works for Big John to continue his weekday drive-time program.
Congrats from Cherry
WELE-AM will be the second Black-owned radio station in Volusia County.
“Congratulations to Bethune-Cookman University on acquiring WELE-AM,” said Dr. Glenn W. Cherry, a managing member of Psi Communications, LLC, the company that owns WPUL-AM 1590.
“It’s always great to have more African-American ownership of media properties, especially since the number has dropped drastically over the last decade. The ownership, staff and management of WPUL-AM is ready to assist B-CU in any way we can to ensure that WELE-AM achieves the university’s goals and objectives.”