It’s the only radio station in Fort Bend County, and they’re here to make sure every minute of every hour of programming is dedicated to the local community.
Cross promoting with the Fort Bend Star newspaper, Sweet 96, Sugar Land’s Hometown Radio Station (actually 96.1 on the dial and streaming live on the internet) brings an eclectic music mix, and along with it, all things local – weather, news, commercials and sports. Make that Sugar Land Skeeters sports with the Friday Night Game of the Week. There will be high school sports, too.
News and sports will mostly originate from the print version of the Fort Bend Star. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are working together and we are happy to call the Fort Bend Star a media partner,” said new General Manager Ray Nelson.
Owned by Daniel Fernandez, and originally on the dial as Radio Positiva, a Spanish talk radio station, it then changed to Sweet 96, signing on the new format about six months ago. The station can be heard in Sugar Land, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg, Stafford, Pecan Grove, and Alief. Along with music and commercials, public service programming is also being planned, with the focus on interviewing local charities and service industries.
Fernandez brought in Nelson, a career radio engineer, who not only added the technical skills, but who also saw the future of the radio station.
“I built Daniels’ original station. I then suggested to him that the radio station could service the community better if it was dedicated to the city and the Fort Bend area. He thought was a great idea,” Nelson said.
Radio stations and towers are sometimes in different locales. For Sweet 96, the studio is in Sugar Land, located in a residential area. The tower is in Pecan Grove.
As for the station’s format, Nelson said, “I gave our owner a general idea of an oldies sounding radio station, and that it was a missing format in the Houston market.”
While Sweet 96 has no exact format – the station mixes up oldies with country, classic rock, a little of everything. Information on community events is broadcast often, as are special live broadcasts helping the community, like the one for the Maccagnan family, who were devastated by the floods of Hurricane Harvey.
They also broadcast the Skeeters games on Friday nights. Ira Liebman, the voice of the Skeeters and the senior director of broadcasting and senior sales manager, said the brand new relationship between the Sugar Land Skeeters and Sweet 96 has been a “perfect match.”
“The Skeeters are in the seventh season and this is the first opportunity to be on a station right here in town,” he said.
He said that he and Nelson, “work together creatively to bring the Friday Night Game of the Week on the air, both at home and on the road with the Skeeters.”
Fort Bend Star Editor Joe Southern welcomed the radio station to the local market.
“I love the collaboration between radio and newspaper,” he said. “This gives us another avenue to share the news of the community. We have a similar mission to serve the community and this relationship makes a lot of sense.”
Other programs include Christian Music Rewind, at 9 a.m., and Greatest Hits USA with Chuck Taylor from 1-4 p.m. Both air on Sunday.
Bringing in an air staff was part of the new programming at Sweet 96. Locally, the station brought in veteran Houston radio talent Paul Christy, (KRBE, KHMX) who hosts the Top 40 Block Party Saturday from 4-7 p.m. According to Christy, it’s all party music, baby.
Christy said he came across the station and liked the wide –and wild – variety of songs they played.
“I love the fact that this station is dedicated to serving the people of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County. Local radio has been missing for years now, and Sweet 96 is doing a great job of bringing it back,” he said. “The station supports the community like no other, so I want to support them.”
Also signed on to the station is Kelli Casey, a recognizable voice for radio and television. As the voice of the station, she is heard between songs, and promotes upcoming programs. She’s worked as a DJ at several stations in Houston, including KODA and K-Lite.
“As the station grows, I know the needs of the community will grow as well,” Casey said.
Citing “community first” Casey said, “when we focus on the those needs of the community, such as the Maccagnan event, that will be the heart of the station.”
“I felt like adding Kelli’s voice for promotions was perfect for what this radio station needs to have,” Nelson said. “And adding Donna Reed, who not only writes for the Fort Bend Star, but also reports the news for Sweet 96, is a cohesive between broadcast and print. It’s a unique entity in our community.”
Reed who served as a photojournalist in the military, is also a Houston radio talent.
Josh Holstead updates listeners with weather and community events. He was a Houston radio fixture for 17 years at KIKK and KILT. He and his wife, Kim, are owners of Syndicated Media Network, distributing radio specials and shows heard weekly on over 100 radio stations.
Holstead heard the station right at the time they were transitioning to Sweet 96 in December. He called the station, and was on the air two days later. Even though Holstead lived out of state for a few years, he calls the Fort Bend area home.
Committed to the community through his many years in radio (he lived here for 17 years) he was ready to get back to Texas, and contribute his voice to Sweet 96.
“I look at this an another great way I can use my God given talent and apply it to the industry and community that I know and love,” he said.
What does Nelson envision for the voice of Fort Bend County?
“The original intent for Sugar Land’s Hometown Radio Station is to further bring the community together by announcing charity and community events. There are so many people doing so many good things for other people in our community and up to this point – the community has not had a radio voice to bring them the information about those events. It’s what Sweet 96 is all about.”
For more on Sweet 96, visit www.sweet96.com or find them on Facebook @Sweet96fm.