Local, low-frequency FM station just for neighbors in NW Philly. Behind the scenes as a Mt Airy psychotherapist interviews an East Falls novelist on G-town Radio.
Old-school radio is alive and kicking in our neighborhood, we discovered recently when we tagged along on a local author’s live studio interview on G-town Radio, 92.9FM. You might remember David Jackson Ambrose from our article back in April when he kicked off his publicity tour for his first book, State of the Nation, which follows a group of abused and marginalized teenagers in 1980’s King of Prussia.
Since then, David’s had great reviews, several insightful interviews, dozens of readings – and he even presented at a writer’s conference in London this summer. And the Chestnut Hill Local did a two-part story on him, to boot! When G-town Radio came knocking, we pounced on a chance to check in with David and check out a 10-year-old institution – on the FM dial here since 2015.
We met David outside G-town Radio’s office on Maplewood Mall before his guest spot on Dr. Stephanie Heck’s show, The (Not So) Hidden Agenda. Stephanie’s a full-time psychologist who brings a unique analytical approach to all her interviews. “I like to focus on guests as individuals apart from their art or their book or whatever,” she explained, in her pre-show briefing, “Then we can get into how you create and what led you to pursue your passion.”
David hardly looked nervous at all, taking his seat across from Stephanie at the board, expertly clicking at SAM Broadcaster as her intro music played and she prepared to go live in five… four… three… “Good evening, Germantown! This is Stephanie Heck, I am here today with my guest, David Jackson Ambrose…”
The two quickly fell into a comfortable banter that covered how David’s writing career began when he was a child – he’d create superhero comic books featuring his brother & sister in starring (but often unflattering) roles. “Like, my sister hated being so short, so I made her character mini-sized,” he laughed, “Like, up to people’s knees. She was so mad. But otherwise it was a feel-good story.”
You can listen to David’s entire episode at mixcloud.com/thenotsohiddenagenda, where you can also browse her other shows, and discover a wealth of fascinating local personalities. Including Stephanie herself, btw. As a therapist, she sees people struggling with challenges in their lives every day. Through her radio show, she gets to see the other side of the process: people using creativity and activism to turn their pain into something positive.
After her show, Stephanie showed us around the studio. It’s a basic but professional set-up, with a scrappy upbeat vibe (unsurprisingly it’s a 501c3 non-profit). The whole operation is pretty much run by one guy, Jim Bear, who founded G-town Radio in 2008. Jim’s a big advocate for community radio, specifically as a way to reach neighbors who don’t have computers, or have limited internet access. So he figured out a station-sharing model to bring local FM radio to Germantown, Roxborough, East Falls, Nicetown… (click here for coverage area map & station details).
On the Air G-town Radio shares their 92.9FM frequency with South Philadelphia Community Radio – they’re on the air there for 3 ½ days per week, and G-town is live here 4 ½ days per week. G-town radio covers most of these time slots but not all – 1/5th of the slots are divided between Germantown United CDC and Germantown Life Enrichment Center. Since the missions of all three Germantown organizations are pretty much all about community pride and advancement, NW Philly’s 92.9FM feels cohesive and relevant.
“What I love about G-town Radio,” David told us afterwards, “Is that it reminds me of AM radio from my youth.
“And that’s a huge compliment. Because AM radio at that time was far more diverse than what we have now, where everything is so regimented. AM radio exposed me to Bowie, Funkadellic, Pink Floyd, and Labelle. It’s where you could hear Philadelphia Freedom followed by some obscure band from California. G-town plays music that is ‘off the grid’ for lack of a better word, which helps expand the mind.”
Listen live or stream your favorite shows. Start with Stephanie Heck’s (Not So) Hidden Agenda, and discover all the coolness being broadcast just for us in NW Philly.
The (Not So) Hidden Agenda is a live radio show where Dr. Stephanie Heck interviews local artists, authors, musicians, actors, politicians, professionals, and activists about their work in the local community and beyond. Interviews focus not only on each guest’s current work, but also on who they are as individuals and what path led them to have and to pursue their passion. (Sundays 5pm – 6pm)
Host Dr. Stephanie Heck is a long-time resident of Mount Airy and has been doing in-depth interviews for 2 decades as a part of her work as a clinical psychologist. She has a private practice of psychology in Chestnut Hill and Center City Philadelphia (check her out at drheck.net), and was a regular guest as the “in-house shrink” on Ed Feldman’s Morning Feed. She’s been hosting The (Not So) Hidden Agenda since February 2017.
WGGT-LP – 92.9FM (Schedule)
Eclectic music and talk shows. Local programs that engage, inform, empower and uplift our community. Live programmers regularly make announcements for events, meetings, etc. (just email them your copy to be read aloud). Local musicians, send ‘em your stuff. Volunteers needed! Host a show or run the board or perform other important tasks – training provided.
26 Maplewood Mall , 215-609-4301
State of the Nation by David Ambrose Jackson
Pick up a copy of David’s book locally at Narberth Bookshop, Barnes & Noble Center City, Target, and Walmart. “If you don’t see it on the shelves, I’d be very grateful if you call in to request it,” he added. He’s on Amazon too, of course. Read a chapter sample here.
Catch one of David’s readings (they’re free, plus usually refreshments and giveaways!).
Sept 22, 1pm – 2pm at Montgomery County Norristown Public Library, 1001 Powell St (MAP)
Sept 28, 6:30pm 8pm at Barnes and Noble University of Penn Book Store, 3601 Walnut St (MAP)
October 24, 6:30pm – 8pm Penn Book Center, 120 South 34th St (Q&A with Poet Levi Bentley (MAP)