Hip-hop, R&B back to the ’burgh…online

Former WAMO executive Ron Atkins has started two new online hip-hop, R&B stations.

Founder of 101 The Blaze LLC and Radio Pittsburgh Magic, LLC, Atkins last held the position of program director for Sheridan Broadcasting which included the flagship station of WAMO FM out of Pittsburgh. Other stations in the group included WAMO AM—Pittsburgh, WUFO—Buffalo, WIGO—Atlanta, WATV—Birmingham and WPGR—Pittsburgh. During his 14-year tenure with Sheridan Broadcasting, Atkins held various positions including vice president of programming for American Urban Radio Networks.


Before joining Sheridan, Atkins was the programming director for WBLK—Buffalo, KMJM—St. Louis, KMJQ—Houston, WOWI—Norfolk and WVAZ—Chicago. His career started as an intern at WUFO AM in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. Radio Magic Pittsburgh is committed to creating a positive cultural and economic impact on its listeners, advertisers and the city of Pittsburgh.


“I would have put on the air some of the experiences of the last 50 years. There were a lot of memories that came about because of WAMO’s existence in Pittsburgh. I think there was an opportunity lost for people to say goodbye. I came up with the idea of RadioMagicPittsburgh.com and 101theblaze.com when we heard the news about WAMO being sold on May 15, 2009,” said Atkins.

“When I left WAMO, I looked at opportunities such as selling insurance and cars so I had to reinvent myself. My wife asked me, ‘How many years have you been doing this?’ I said to her about 30 years and my wife said, ‘Why do something different?’ You put too many years into this and you know what you are doing. I was the program director and I moved up to vice president of programming for American Urban Radio Network which is a subsidiary of Sheridan Broadcasting. A few years later I became the vice president of programming for all of the Sheridan Broadcasting stations. When I looked at reinventing myself, I had an opportunity to look at what God put me here to do and that is programming.

“When I heard that WAMO was in a position to transfer their license and leave the marketplace, I had to do something. I wanted Pittsburgh to have something dealing with music and entertainment. RadioMagicPittsburgh.com is classic soul and R&B and it’s something better than what was here before. WAMO had AM860, but this is better than that for a couple of reasons. We also will have 101TheBlaze.com coming soon which will feature J-Kruz who was also a former deejay of WAMO.”

“Ron Atkins came at me years ago and gave me an opportunity to be on the radio at WAMO 106.7FM,” J-Kruz said in response to his joining Atkins. “I had plans on doing my own, but Ron has a lot of connections and I feel like it’s definitely going to benefit both of us. It’s going to be easier doing it online because you can go in and do what you have to do and bounce. Internet radio in a lot of ways can’t compare to working on a regular radio station. We’re smaller and we have to climb up the ladder, but we will get it done. I’m still the same cat and do some of the same things I did on WAMO and bring that love to the locals as well. As of right now, I am the only on-air personality on the radio station, but I don’t have a problem working with anyone. Go online to 101theblaze.com and show your love and get on their everyday.”

The stations also have Alan Lincoln, who is the president of MAA and Associates, which is a consultant company here in Allegheny County. It gives Atkins and Lincoln a chance to work together again. It also gives Atkins the opportunity to work with someone of Lincoln’s expertise. Previously, Lincoln served as senior vice president of Soul Circus Inc. of Atlanta, Ga. and president of Sheridan Broadcasting Corp.’s Radio Division, which includes WAMO FM, WAMO AM, WSSZ FM and WPGR AM, all of Pittsburgh and WUFO AM of Buffalo, N.Y., and is also one of the founders of Pittsburgh Urban Media (www.PittsburghUrbanMedia.com) along with Robin Beckham and Tonia White.

"I totally respect Ron Davenport’s decision to do the signal switch years ago," said Atkins.

“However, a lot of high density Black areas such as the Hill District, Homewood and East Liberty couldn’t receive a clear signal, which led to listeners not feeling good about the switch,” he said.

“You can’t have a market as huge as Pittsburgh with nearly two million people being without an urban radio station. We have to have a place for the African-American voice to be heard because it’s very important. There is something wrong with this picture when we have an African-American president, but not an African-American radio station,” said Atkins.

RadioPittsburghMagic.-com and 101theblaze.com are music-driven formats. When people log on, they will hear there favorite music all the time. It will be a whole range of classic soul and R&B on one station and hip-hop on the other, so there is hope for Pittsburgh after all.

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