On Monday, March 31, listeners were set to tune in to hear the new, rebranded WIMO Radio.
WJBB 1300AM, “The Voice of Barrow County and the 316 Corridor,” was set to take the place of WIMO Radio, opening the week with a morning show.
WIMO’s first broadcast was on November 4, 1952, C.H. and Ethel Grider moved from Columbus to Winder to create a radio station. The station was created as a partnership between the Griders and W. C. Woodall Jr., and his wife, Margaret.
According to the Griders’ daughter, Jane Grider, the station serviced a need for radio, one that had not previously been met in Winder.
“My daddy really began this station just so Winder could have one,” said Jane. “There was nothing like it in Winder at the time.”
According to Jane, her father would take his equipment and travel to Jefferson, Monroe and other remote cities, that also had no radio.
While he was a military man, Ethel was wary about the travel that the military required.
Regular listeners will remember the voice of Ethel, who voiced “Woman’s World” and “Hi Neighbor,” a program that interviewed new Winder residents. The station also catered to the students in the area, with updates like the “Bulldog Reports” and a daily school news segment featuring upcoming events and lunch menus.
Jane remembers going with her parents, working alongside them in the station.
“I used to be in that station all the time,” said Jane. “I worked there a lot, filing papers with my parents. It was a great place.”
The station has been sold several times throughout the years and was recently sold to Batten Communications, owned by Jeff Batten.
Batten began working in radio as a graduate student at the University of Georgia in the early 90s. It was there that Batten grew a love for community radio, and decided to begin buying small stations.
“I decided to start buying small community radio stations, figuring it was the only way to control and own your own product 24/7, rather than airing weekly half-hour TV shows on someone else’s channels,” said Batten.
Batten began looking for struggling stations that needed rebranding. The company currently owns stations in Habersham, Hiawassee and Blairsville.
On Friday, March 7, Batten purchased the long-standing WIMO Radio.
“My business practice has been to buy stations that have struggled for attention – stations where the owner was tired of it and wanted out,” said Batten. “That was certainly the situation at WIMO.”
Batten was hesitant to change the WIMO call letters, recognizing that the station had once thrived under those letters.
“I am mindful that WIMO was once a vibrant, relevant station and for that reason, I thought twice about changing the call letters,” said Batten. “But when I visited the station and saw how much work needed to be done, I felt like a complete facelift was probably in order.”
The station will now play rock music, with a format of “Star Spangled Rock-n-Roll.”
The station was scheduled to broadcast a morning show March 31, and will soon add programs to showcase sports, community and social news.