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Spread The Gospel, Inc.
P. O. Box 1674
Pleasantville, NJ 08232
WEHA Gospel is a community-based
gospel radio station WEHA Gospel
88.7FM is a non-profit, WEHA
Gospel 88.7FM is a non-profit,
corporate sponsors and faithful
community-based gospel radio station
listeners. Your contribution allows us
continue providing quality gospel
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The Walls Group
Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013 12:15 am | Updated: 8:22 am,
Sun Feb 3, 2013.
By DEREK HARPER, Staff Writer
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The labor of love started with a
“We didn’t want to see gospel radio leave the area,” William
Hawkes, 51, said, sitting with his wife, Elaine, 48, at a small table.
So he and his wife took over the radio station, ensuring the region’s
only full-time gospel radio station stayed on the air and keeping
alive a voice of the community.
Black gospel music dates from the earliest days of this country,
when enslaved Africans were converted or raised in the Christian
faith. They took elements of the culture and combined it with the
European worship service into a unique form that has gained
“Gospel music is a music that inspires. It lifts,” Elaine Hawkes
explained. “If you have a day when you need to be inspired, turn
on that station and you will be inspired.”
The music has evolved over decades; and while secularized versions
helped develop much of American popular music, adherents kept
These days, gospel is a niche field. It can frequently be found in
abundance on Sunday mornings, but is much harder to find on a
There were 318 radio stations that broadcast gospel in fall 2011,
according to the most recent Arbitron survey. But only about 25
percent of the stations broadcast on FM, drawing about 0.8
percent of listeners older than 12.
The Hawkes both listened to the radio growing up.
After William Hawkes graduated from Absegami High School in
1980, he traveled, eventually meeting Elaine in Milwaukee, where
they both sold cleaning products door to door.
They returned to the region several years later, opening up a
cleaning business in 1987. The Egg Harbor Township residents are
hesitant to say how many clients Hawkes Professional Janitorial
Services serves, but the company pays a significant portion of the
While the station is organized as a non-profit, tax returns were not
The Hawkes’ station has been around for almost a decade,
broadcasting from a tower at the New Gretna State Police barracks
on the Garden State Parkway. The 800-watt signal covers much of
Atlantic and southern Ocean County, while a 120-watt repeater at
99.9 FM covers western Atlantic County. The station also
transmits over the Internet, extending the reach beyond the county.
Mary A. Parrish, 1st Lady at Atlantic City’s Shiloh Temple
Apostolic Cathedral, said that members of the congregation
stationed by the military in Kuwait and Afghanistan, have used the
station to kept in touch with the region.
She herself has had to travel to South Carolina to care for a loved
one. She listens online, because she said on the phone, “it’s just so
nice to have a taste of home.”
The frequency initially came on the air in 2003, and after about a
year and a half of different formats, had settled on gospel by
August 2004. The station changed call signs and owners, with the
Hawkes taking over WEHA, chosen for their initials, by August
It now broadcasts several locally produced shows, with the
William Hawkes taking as the microphone as “El Presidente” and
Elaine as “Lady Prayze.” The station is also active in local
outreach efforts, broadcasting public services announcements, as
well as hosting an annual benefit banquet and community service
Other hosts include Steffin Phifer, the production director, and
Thelma Witherspoon, of Atlantic City, who hosts a news and
information program Saturdays at 9 a.m.
The station also broadcasts Sunday morning services, including
Pleasantville’s Evangelical Full Gospel Fellowship Church and
Shiloh Temple Apostolic Cathedral.
Despite their short tenure, the pair recently won one of the
industry’s top prizes, the Stellar Award, given to the top
performers and industry leaders for almost 30 years. The station
won for the best station in a small market, beating out several
dozen others in rounds of voting.
William Hawkes placed the golden-colored, flame-shaped award in
the middle of the table. The base was inscribed with some legends
of the genre, like The Dixie Hummingbirds, Mahalia Jackson and
They were named as a finalist September, and went to Nashville in
January. It was exciting, William Hawkes said, to see and meet so
many top people in the field. “It was a moment, now,” he said. “It
was a moment.”
Now back home, the station continues its broadcasts, sending the
good word out to the region. The labor of love is a labor, but not a
burden they want to lay down.
“It’s a challenge for us,” Elaine Hawkes said. “It’s not a business,
it’s a ministry.”
Contact Derek Harper:
Christian Apparel & More
P.O. Box 12
Egg Harbor City, New Jersey 08215