|Fork Mountain man has accomplished his dream|
Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Don Mattingly, who used the name Brad Stevens on the radio, sits in front of the controls of the WQMR-LP or Q101.3 FM radio station located in the Fork Mountain area.
Friday, September 5, 2014
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post
There's a "new kid on the block" on the radio waves in Franklin County.
WQMR FM-LP (low power) or Q101.3 has been on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the station a license to broadcast, according to Executive Director Don Mattingly. The official business name is Brameldon Productions Inc.
Basically the station covers the southern half of Franklin County and northern Henry County.
"The station can be heard from Rocky Mount to Martinsville," Mattingly said. "Because of the high mountains that separate Fork Mountain from the Ferrum area, its signal cannot be picked up in that area. We also have listeners on Smith Mountain Lake."
Mattingly, who uses the on-air name of Brad Stevens, is no newcomer to the county. He has been an announcer for a local AM radio station in Rocky Mount for the past seven years. Currently he mans the controls Fridays and on the weekends.
When he began dreaming of starting a radio station in his home, he realized he already owned most of the equipment that he needed, including microphones. Of course, he did have to buy a transmitter and an antenna.
Mattingly says his station's format features "classic rock," "Southern rock" and "oldies" from the 1960s to the 1980s.
"I do something different from most stations," he said. "Normally a DJ at a station will play only the best song or two from an album, where as I feature all the cuts from the album."
On Saturday nights, Mattingly hosts a show called "Saturday Night Gold" from 9 p.m. to midnight.
"I'm getting good feedback about the show," he added. "In fact, I am pleased with the way things are going so far.
His operation is a one man show, so to speak. While he does all the programming and announcing, Mattingly uses other air names and voices on Q101.3 to keep the program from sounding redundant.
Mattingly is a veteran DJ with years of experience mostly in the D.C. metro area. Mattingly has been "in and out" of radio for 55 years. In the 1990s, he owned a station on the eastern shore of Maryland.
"Actually, I've been in radio since I was 11 years old. I was a child's voice in some commercials for several years," he explained. "I've been using the air name Brad Stevens since 1966."
Mattingly explained how a low power license is different, mainly in that it's given to only non-profits organizations, like Public Broadcast Systems radio stations. Commercials cannot be sold; however, a business owner can be an "underwriter" and get a message on the air to the listeners.
"As an example, I can give the name of the business, its location, phone number, website and other information," he said.
Mattingly's knowledge of radio goes far beyond that of being a DJ. He even assembled the radio station's equipment in a remote section of the county near Fork Mountain. He is also a "ham radio" operator and has been for years. His call is W3EHF.
"I know a lot of the ham radio operators from here," he said.
Weather reports using Doppler radar are also a feature on the station.
"I do up-to-the-minute weather reports and can inform listeners of any dangerous weather systems approaching our area," he said.
While his first love is radio, Mattingly made his living as a television systems engineer for Prince George County's school system in Maryland for 32 years. The job required him to design and maintain all of the television systems in 800 buildings in the school division.
"The school system has its own television station and production studios. This was real world stuff," he said.
Mattingly retired from his post on June 30, 2004.
Mattingly came to Franklin County at his sister's suggestion.
"My sister lived here at the time (when I retired) and I was looking for a less populated area," he said. "So I came down here, where Sam and Joan Litton showed me this place.
Community service announcements can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the website at wqmrfm.com.