There were days when a determined Galen Saunders, CEO of More 94 FM, wondered where the strength was coming from to keep the doors of his small, struggling radio station open or how he would pay the deejays whose voices filled the holes where ads should have been.
The new sound in town was, at that time, way out of town, broadcasting out of shared quarters with the family trucking company on what was then a lonely stretch of Carmichael Road.
Saunders never gave up, never gave in and today, 17 years later, MORE 94 FM is at the pinnacle of success. In a field of 16 broadcast houses in Nassau, MORE 94 was just voted best again. The station swept the 2010 DJ Awards, winning Radio Station of the Year for the second time (the first in 2008).
Its morning show, Mischief & Mayhem in the AM with deejay Naughty won Best Morning Show for the second straight year. Its sister station, Spirit Gospel 92.5 won Gospel Radio Station of the Year and Spirit’s morning show host, Giles Wells, won Best Male Radio Personality.
“We went on the air at 7:30 am on December 20, 1995,” said Saunders, sitting in an unpretentious office cluttered with the stuff and flotsam of a hands-on media operator who keeps up with every commercial, cause and trend.
“It was just ZNS, 100JAMZ, Love 97 and us. We were the last in the standing and we couldn’t seem to get out of our own way. We thought three other stations meant a lot of competition and we suffered. We were voted least likely to succeed.” The struggle continued for the better part of seven years.
Transformation came in 2002. It was as simple as switching to what listeners wanted.
“We switched to mainstream music mix,” said Saunders. “The Bahamian listener had matured a lot. There are a lot more college educated people, young professionals, ex-pats and Bahamians of all walks who want mainstream. That’s what we gave them and I just wonder why it took so long for us to realize it was the music we had wrong and when we got it right, things began to go right.”
MORE 94 FM took risks, too, one of them paying huge dividends, adding talk show host Ortland Bodie, whose 10 am to noon show daily is now as much of the Bahamian diet as boiled fish and Sunday church. Entire conversations start and end with talk about what Bodie said that day. Awards or not, some things about Saunders haven’t changed.
Like before, he doesn’t take making payroll for granted. But now there are 19 full and part-time people and the station is bustling. There’s no trucking company sharing space.
“I’m very proud,” he says, still humbled by the years of struggle. “Worrying about a larger payroll is not a bad problem to have, and winning the awards presented by Da Future Entertainment means a lot because it’s the general public voting in an online poll telling you what they like.”
By Diane Phillips