Richard Hyatt: Dr. Mike brings gospel to radio

February 20, 2014 

Dr. Mike Stevens is never at a loss for words.

He wakes up talking and is still jabbering when it is time for bed.

He can preach a sermon, sing an old spiritual or provide the chatter between songs on the radio.

Back in Stewart County, he dreamed of broadcast stardom.

He soon discovered he could make more money driving one of his daddy's big rigs than spinning records on a 1,000-watt radio station.

That didn't end the dream, though. For the past 43 years, when he wasn't working in the trucking business, preaching the Gospel or performing with the family band, he has dabbled in radio.

It has taken him up and down the dial, and next month you'll hear him on his sixth local station.

"It's the last station I've never been on," he jokes.

WRCG makes the move into Southern gospel around March 1.

Dr. Mike's Sunday morning show will be part of a new sound on an old station, along with Jim Foster, the area's strongest advocate of that musical genre.

Broadcasting from his spare bedroom in North Carolina, Foster will do a Monday through Friday morning show.

Ranger Joe's God and Country talk show will continue to air between 2 and 6 p.m.

The remainder of AM 1420's schedule will be filled with the sound of traditional Southern gospel music.

Radio is a volatile business. Look at Dr. Mike's resume.

Before WRCG there was WPNX, South 106, WHYD, WEAU and WSHE.

If you don't think it's unpredictable, consider that Foster found out his last venture was off the air when he opened his email one morning.

But for old-school radio people, there is always another microphone.

Dr. Mike got his first taste of it in high school at that small station in Lumpkin -- about the same time he was ordained as a Baptist preacher.

"I just knew I was supposed to be a star," he says.

"On the air I played it all -- country, gospel, rock and easy listening. I worked seven days a week and made $80. Then I saw my mama writing checks and found out truck drivers were getting twice that much. I couldn't afford to be a star."

These days he is vice president of Bobby Stevens Hauling Contractors, the family business for more than 40 years, and a member of the staff at Cascade Hills Church.

But as always, there is radio and music.

The Southern gospel audience loves old songs and old groups so both Dr. Mike and Foster will be doing live shows.

"It will be real radio and real local," the four-time Disc Jockey of the Year says.

And he can't wait: "Just tell me when to start talking."

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906@knology.net.

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