James Metcalf strums guitar on WJFJ (photo submitted).
James Metcalf strums guitar on WJFJ (photo submitted).

Wolverine radio gives last growl

Published 6:51pm Friday, January 3, 2014

The airwaves won’t be the same without WJFJ Wolverine Radio broadcasting the high school sports along with gospel music, preaching and public service messages.
WJFJ radio in Polk County has gone quiet, but owner John Owen hopes a buyer will emerge soon to keep the tradition alive.
“I really don’t want to let it go, but looking down the road, I hope to put it in the hands of someone locally who would have the time,” Owen said. “I hope that we have been able to help Polk County and the surrounding area.”
The station began in 1954 as WTYN, then changed to WKJT and finally WJFJ. Owen and Joe Foster of Columbus Broadcasting purchased the station almost 20 years ago in 1995. It began live-streaming as wjfjradio.com in 2009.
“We didn’t charge to keep people informed of what’s happening,” Owen said. “We brought a lot of gospel to this area.”
James Metcalf, a popular radio personality and performer, worked for 17 years for the radio station. The station received accolades in the top 10 of 100 radio stations for gospel music in North Carolina from Fundamental Forum, and Metcalf enjoyed being involved heavily in the radio station.
“This summer, I started working for free to help the station rise up, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “I will miss it so much. I will miss not being there for people. The station shared gospel music and also church announcements, obits, the weather. I’ll miss being called for friend requests.”
Metcalf will continue sharing his music and faith in the area.
He will perform with his group, Colt Creek, on Friday, Jan. 10, at the Saluda Truck Stop, and he’s created a new CD, “Time to Return,” that’s available at M.A. Pace General Store. The CD focuses on wayward people returning to faith.
“Our church houses are full of empty seats where they belong,” he said, quoting the lyrics of the title song, “Time to Return.”
Metcalf said he would love to do more radio announcing in the future. In 2004 and 2005, he was named one of the country’s top 10 small market southern gospel radio personalities. Many people have performed his songs, as well.
“I’ve written all the songs on the CD, and six are available for the first time on this CD,” he said. “The others already have been performed by other people.”
In its heyday, WJFJ did many live radio shows from area festivals. Radio has become less and less live, Metcalf said, as stations go to automation.
“We were on all the time,” Owen said. “In the blizzard of 1993, trees went down, power went down, and we were down for seven days, but we were on for those first 48 hours. We’ve had some trying times, but we made it through them. Now, I have myself too many businesses going and have to let go of something.”
Owen said anyone interested in purchasing the station could reach him at 864-978-7204.
“We have two parties considering it now,” he said. “I really didn’t want to let it go.”

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