As of Monday last week, Fishtown has its own hyper-local radio station.
At least that’s what Al Gardner, vice president of programming at the newly launched IQ 106.9 FM says he wants the talk-news station to be.
The station touts itself as a “fortress of free speech,” and hopes to be “fair and balanced, not live and liberal.”
In fact, the new station slants slightly to the right, as it airs syndicated radio shows from noted conservatives Sean Hannity and Glenn Back.
But the syndicated programs don’t dominate the station’s programming, said Gardner, as he’s co-hosting a morning news show with Larry Mente – of KYW and email hacking fame.
“We are having a lot of fun with it,” Gardner said during an interview on Friday, May 18.
Gardner said the push for hyper-local talk and news programming on FM radio is something that he wants to support.
Gardner, who was born and raised in the Philadelphia area, said he returned to his hometown after a 14-year career doing morning news at WBT in Charlotte, N.C.
“Everyone told me, ‘you’ve got to leave Philly if you want to come back,’” he said.
Garnder said he started a career here but moved from the city when he was younger.
“I was born and raised in Philly. This is my Rocky shot,” he joked.
With the station headquartered in the Penn Treaty Plaza building just off of Delaware Avenue near Penn Treaty Park, Gardner said he’s enjoying every minute of working in the riverwards—from being able to look out his office window onto the Delaware River, or walk up Girard Avenue to grab lunch at Johnny Brenda’s.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he said.
Asked why he would leave a 14-year career for a start up a radio station, Gardner said that he sees a trend in music moving from the radio onto personal media devices – like iPhones and iPods – while news and talk are finding success on FM stations.
“Music is moving to iPods and spoken word is moving to FM radio,” he said. “I was doing exactly this [in Charlotte]…We are Philly’s news, all local, out of Fishtown.”
The station has already done good reporting, he said, as they covered a fire at a Rohm and Haas plant in Bristol, where Fire Captain Dave Wentz suffered a fatal heart attack while directing traffic.
“I’m really proud of our reporting there,” he said of the fire, which occurred Wednesday, May 16.
While the station has only been on the air since Monday, May 14, Gardner said he hopes it will grow into something that he can leave behind as a legacy.
“When I’m gone, I want to leave something for society, for Philadelphia,” he said. “This is just a bunch of guys in Fishtown who give a crap…We are a small bunch of renegades nobody has heard about, yet…It’s Philadelphia for Philadelphia.”
For more information, or to listen to IQ 106.9 on the internet, visit www.IQ1069.com.
Star Staff Reporter Hayden Mitman can be contacted at 215-354-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.