MILAN — If you live in West Tennessee, you might listen to The Victory 93.7 on the radio.
The FM station can be heard in 12 counties. It’s format is Christian contemporary music, but it offers a variety of programming.
Those who listen much know Stevie Ray Hemann, one of the main personalities of the station who also is general manager/co-owner.
Stevie Ray, as he is known on the radio, is heard every weekday morning with Gail Gustafson on the show, “Victory in the Morning.” As Hemann and Gustafson discuss community events and talk with listeners who call in, listeners get to know them well. In fact, often during the show there is so much conversation that he and Gustafson have little time to play music, explained Hemann.
But that is fine, said Hemann who has worked in the industry for 33 years. He explained that he sees the show and everything he does through Victory 93.7 as his ministry though he also has a traditional ministry. Hemann is associate pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Milan.
Hemann may additionally be known by residents in this area from his stint several years ago on Jackson-based FM Christian radio station 97.7. He hosted a talk show and morning show on it.
Victory 93.7 has several other well-known personalities besides Hemann, all of whom are Christian. The station also is known for its coverage of high school football games, reporting of community events and broadcasting of church services on Sunday. Of the eight churches which broadcast services on Victory 93.7, four are Southern Baptist.
The community events reported on air also appear on the station’s website, www.victory937.com. Additionally the football game coverage and live church services can be heard live on the website.
Hemann said the reporting of community events by the station is popular among churches, many small, who can’t afford to do any other advertising of such things as Vacation Bible School. If a church is interested in advertising, the station tries to be as accommodating as possible, he said.
He wants Victory 93.7 to serve as a “direct pipe line” between churches and Christians and the public, he said.
Several other Southern Baptists are very involved in Victory 93.7.
Bradley Owens, an attorney in Jackson and Trenton who also is a co-owner of the station, helps Hemann host Victory Vendors each Saturday morning. The show has a swap and shop format and is very popular, said Hemann. Owens is a member of Antioch Baptist Church, Humboldt.
The other co-owner is Steven Tate who also owns Tate’s Food-Rite in Maury City and is minister of music, First Baptist Church, Kenton.
Dale Denning, pastor, Chapel Hill Baptist Church, Milan, and other ministers of the church lead “Living in the Light,” a Monday morning program. That show like other shows on the station is very listener-focused and takes calls from listeners on the topic of the show, said Hemann.
Finally, meteorologist Eddie Holmes provides weather reports. Holmes, who also broadcasts on several other stations, is bivocational pastor of Northside Baptist so he and Hemann serve together at the church.
From the general manager
Hemann said he has seen God bless the station and him during the three years he and Owens and Tate have operated it. The station which was previously operated by Grace Broadcasting and based in Jackson, was moved by the new owners to Milan. It has endured the recession well though the area has endured many hits, said Hemann. The Goodyear plant in Union City closed and an ammunitions plant in Milan is relocating. Victory 93.7 has seven employees.
Despite the recession, the station is very picky about who or what they advertise, said Hemann, though they are dependent on advertising revenue. For instance, the station does not advertise anything related to alcohol sales or the lottery.
“We rely on our faith when it comes to this part of the business,” Hemann said.
He noted that he has seen technology related to radio change a lot. Now a church which broadcasts a delayed service just records the service digitally via computer, makes an MP3 file and sends that file using e-mail to the station, which plays it at the designated time.
He also has seen the Christian music scene change a lot, said Hemann.
When he first became involved in radio in 1979, the few Christian music artists wouldn’t fill the air time of a station, he said.
“Then contemporary Christian music hit the scene. … It has really taken off,” said Hemann, adding that the variety of Christian music also has expanded. He noted that current music groups like Casting Crowns and the Newsboys produce “harder music,” but that is okay because it reaches younger people.
Because of his position, he is asked to speak to youth groups, football teams, Fellowship of Christian Athletes groups and churches. Gibson County alone has six high schools, he added. He is glad to do it, said Hemann.
“This has been a blessing. … Radio has opened up so many avenues … to talk to youth and fill pulpits,” said Hemann.
When speaking to youth, he often mentions his experience of growing up in a single-parent home and the fact that he didn’t grow up in a broken home because of his mother’s love.
Hemann said his spiritual journey includes becoming a Christian and surrendering to the ministry at age 31. Then “God allowed” his lifetime dream to come true, to own and operate a radio station, he stated.
God showed him that “when you do what I want you to do you will receive what you want,” said Hemann.