WBCX is a public radio station on frequency 89.1 FM, founded in 1976 by professors Clara Martin and James Birdwell, Trustee John W. Jacobs Jr. and others as a learning opportunity for Brenau students.
The call letters BCX stand for “Brenau College Experimental,” which plays into the intent of the station: allowing students to experiment and hone their skills as media professionals and giving the community a chance to broaden their horizons.
The station started with just 10 watts, and its first student station manager was Jones “Jay” Andrews, BU ’16. The station has undergone several lineup changes but currently plays classic pop hits with jazz in the evenings, BBC World News and specialty talk programs that include shows by students and community members.
The 840-watt FM station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the John W. Jacobs Business and Communication Arts building on Green Street. It first broadcast from a room on the third floor of Pearce Auditorium. The station moved from the basement of the Jacobs building to its current location in the lobby in 2017.
Gigi Andrews, WC ’80
While Gigi Babinec Andrews, WC ’80, studied journalism and broadcasting, she worked at the newly founded WBCX.
“I used things I learned at WBCX in most of my future jobs,” Andrews says. “Working there gave me the basic background knowledge to operate radio station WDGR in Dahlonega, Georgia, when my husband and I bought and ran it for more than 10 years. Later, when I worked in marketing for the Atlanta Falcons, the basic promotional and copywriting skills I learned at WBCX were what I drew upon to write the gameday script for the announcers at every home game.”
Andrews was heavily involved during her time as a Women’s College student, serving as student government president and vice president of her sorority, and graduating summa cum laude. Andrews also met her husband of 42 years, Jay Andrews, at WBCX, when they both worked there years earlier.
“People used to tease us as students that we’d have no social life at Brenau,” Andrews says. “But the only two women I can think of who have been married longer than me are two of my Brenau sorority sisters! What can I say — Brenau is what you make it!”
Anna Jacobs, WC ’86
Clara Martin didn’t just help build WBCX, she also had a hand in two successful marriages in the Gainesville broadcasting community.
In 1957, Martin introduced her high school friend, Martha Rand, to her radio friend — and later, Brenau trustee — John W. Jacobs Jr. They were married for 53 years until his death in 2011.
Decades later, Martin unintentionally played matchmaker again when she encouraged Anna Alexander Jacobs, WC ’86, now a Brenau trustee, and her classmates in 1985 to attend a reception at Brenau for local media. There, Anna Jacobs met John W. “Jay” Jacobs III with Jacobs Media Corp., and they briefly chatted during a tour of the old WBCX station.
“A few weeks later, I received flowers from him and the card was signed ‘Jay.’ I thought they were from another ‘Jay’ from my hometown of Charlotte,” Anna Jacobs says. “Needless to say, he called a few days later and set me straight, and the rest is history!”
Matchmaking skills aside, Anna Jacobs has nothing but love for her former professor: “She is an amazing communicator and has been an ambassador for Brenau all these years.”
Dulcé Sloan, WC ’05
In the early 2000s, Dulcé Sloan, WC ’05, had a radio show on WBCX. A professor encouraged her comedic genius as she ranted on hot topics on the show. You can read more about Sloan’s comedy career here.
WBCX is known for its jazz programing, and Chet White’s “Ground Level” is an integral part of the lineup. White began the show in 1979 while he was in the Air Force, and it also aired on a community station in Philadelphia. “Ground Level” was brought to WBCX in 2004. The show takes a deep look at jazz from 8 p.m. to midnight every Thursday and comes with a playful warning: “…not for the uninitiated.”
After volunteering for a few years, White was hired by Brenau as the national production and compliance coordinator. He says the relationships he’s developed during his time at WBCX are invaluable.
“There’s a really great community here,” White says. “I’m grateful to be here, grateful to work with Jay and the students, and I’m really happy to have met so many people doing the show. Brenau saved me after the death of my wife. It gave me a place and a purpose.”
WBCX also has volunteers at the mic and behind the board on community shows. Two of those shows are hosted by Moe Lyons, who owns and operates Moe’s Record Shop on the downtown Gainesville square. Lyons began spinning tracks in 2003 at WBCX on “Fusion a la Moe,” which runs from 8 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, and “Moe Betta Jazz,” which runs from 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays.
Lyons previously worked in the music industry, so it was a natural fit for him to open a record store after he retired from his job with the city of Gainesville in 2018. He continues to host both radio shows on WBCX.
Jay Andrews, BU ’16
In 2012, after more than 40 years of broadcasting at radio stations Z93-Atlanta, WFOX, Q-98, Majic 102.9 and WDUN, Jay Andrews returned to WBCX as the director of broadcasting and digital communications. He was encouraged by late Trustee John W. Jacobs Jr., with the plan of launching WBCX into an integrated media world of broadcasting, internet, marketing and film.
On weekday mornings, he hosts “Jay Andrews in the Morning” from 6 to 8 a.m. He also runs the station and teaches courses.
“I teach a lot about technique and tools. Some students get really into it,” Andrews says. “And even in courses like PR, you’ll have to have radio knowledge to coach clients. There’s both a business and a talent end.”
The radio station isn’t just for broadcast students, Andrews emphasized.
“WBCX is an on-air lab, so not only are we able to teach the broadcasting basics, but we can also customize a more targeted format for students in internet, film, PR, or whatever they need.”
Andrews was one of the first male students admitted to Brenau in the 1970s. “Broadcasting was a new major at Brenau then and wasn’t offered many places in the Southeast,” he says. “The hands-on experience you could get at WBCX was invaluable — as it is today.”
After returning to Brenau as an employee, Andrews also completed his degree.
Andrews says his goal for WBCX is to continue to keep it relevant to students educationally, and interesting and worthwhile to the Gainesville community.
Haley Bartoletta, WC ’22
Haley Bartoletta, WC ’22, wakes up Athens, Georgia, on the morning show “Georgia’s Own Walker and Haley” on 106.1 FM WNGC. Bartoletta also serves as program director for radio stations WPUP and WGAU, part of Cox Media Group, and has served in on-air roles at both.
“WBCX really jump-started my love for radio,” Bartoletta says. “While I was a student at Brenau, I took multiple radio courses where I was able to host my own radio show, write and produce spots and get a feel for what it felt like to be behind the mic.”
Bartoletta says working at the station helped her realize her passion for radio. She took an internship in the newsroom at WDUN in Gainesville before landing the job with CoxCMG.
“My favorite memory of WBCX was first telling Jay Andrews I would be pursuing a career in radio and that I accepted my dream job before graduating,” she says. “He is one of my biggest supporters and mentors, and I am so thankful that he believed in me and pushed me to pursue radio as a career. WBCX will always feel like home to me.”