Fishtown, you're on the air

Newly launched IQ 106.9 FM, headquartered in the Penn Treaty Plaza build­ing, will air hy­per-loc­al talk and news

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

Star Staff Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be con­tac­ted at 215-354-3124 or hmit­

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