In the heart of Northwest Philadelphia, just off Germantown Avenue, sits the headquarters of G-Town Radio. Located on the quiet Maplewood Mall, the online radio station has been in existence since 2008, under the supervision and ownership of station manager Jim Bear.
“We’re a community radio station in the sense that we represent the voices of Northwest Philadelphia and even the fringe areas,” said Tom Casetta.
Casetta works as the Community Public Director for the station and will have been in the position for two years as of this upcoming February.
“The airwaves are another outlet much like the old soapbox in a town square,” said Casetta. “We have an outlet for people who have a message in the community, be it an issue or an arts event or something that they want to share and get the message out. We’re an outlet for them.”
The target audience of G-Town Radio does reside in the Germantown area, though their coverage will, at times, include nearby neighborhoods such as Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill.
Their website has a community calendar which features events that are occurring all throughout the area.
The various programming of the radio station appears to be almost as eclectic as the population they represent. The 24/7 broadcast consists of music and news-based shows, as well as themed playlists. Music lovers will find a program to their liking, as they run the gamut from rap to indie rock to neo-soul.
The talk show based programming ranges from money and financial issues on “Dynamic Money Matters” to “LesBe Real,” which covers topics relevant to the LGBT community. Another show, Black Tribbles, airs Thursdays from 9-11 p.m. and focuses on gaming, sci-fi and nerd culture through the black perspective.
“I love being here in the Germantown area,” said Kristina Hill, who has worked at G-Town Radio for three years. “Much like most neighborhoods here in Philadelphia, there is so much rich history in this area, especially where the station is located. You have so many spots where battles were fought and presidents came to vacation for a while. I love the culture and the overall buzzing atmosphere of this place.”
Hill, otherwise known as DJ Supa Tang, has a Tuesday show called “Yard2Yard (rewind),” on which she plays new reggae, dancehall and hip-hop, plus the classic hits.
“It’s primarily a reggae show that plays hip-hop from independent artists,” she said.
She also co-hosts the “Reggae Surge” show on Wednesdays.
“Both shows I host, produce and DJ,” she added.
Philadelphia is the fourth largest media market in the United States. There are plenty of community access networks and local television channels with news programs. Several major radio stations exist, ranging from KYW to WXPN. However, within the city of Philadelphia, there are so many individual neighborhoods and residential sections that hardly receive the non-crime related coverage they need and deserve.
“The things that Germantown radio get to accomplish over most of the major media outlets is that they reach a vast diverse section of people who get to hear about us and who get to get information about this wonderful section of Philadelphia,” said Hill. “And they have a chance to really get involved with the neighborhood without delay. It’s a very hands on station and I think the staff and the broadcasters work very hard every day to keep those goal alive.
According to Casetta, G-Town Radio is currently seeking a Low Power FM license, which, if approved by the FCC, would allow the station to broadcast on air on a low frequency over public airwaves. The 100 watt channel would allow the station to reach the majority of the Northwest Germantown area. Presently, G-Town’s programming can only be heard on their website and through their official iPhone app, which not every person in the surrounding areas has access to.
“Because we’re on the Internet, it’s not something you stumble across,” said Casetta. “You sort of have to be directed toward the Internet radio.”
The station is expected to find out the outcome of their Low Power FM license application sometime in early 2014.
“If someone wanted to know what Germantown radio is all about, I would tell them it’s a place for change, innovation, love, cooperative understanding, information and music,” said Hill. “And lots and lots of great new music!”