DJ Spotlight – Chuck Bradford WBTG
By Vonda Armstrong
Sheffield, Alabama, is known as the Center of the Shoals. It is centrally located between the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Tuscumbia, Alabama. The city possesses a small town friendliness with the amenities of a local university, hospitals, shopping, and an awesome gospel music radio station. This month, we are spotlighting WBTG in Sheffield, Alabama and D.J. Chuck Bradford.
Vonda Armstrong: Chuck, tell us about your current job in radio.
Chuck Bradford: I currently serve as Program Director for WBTG in Sheffield, Ala. I build the daily logs for both of our stations, produce spots, keep the music rotation fresh, and manage our website (wbtgradio.com) and social media presence. I also host a weekly Saturday morning show on our Southern gospel station. For years I’ve tried to learn as much as I could about everyone’s job so I could keep things running smoothly during vacations or the occasional turnover. Each employee adds value to the station in different ways, and my true niche seems to be working in more of a behind-the-scenes way to ensure everyone else can shine.
WBTG stands for “We Broadcast the Gospel” and is now in its 42nd year of operation. It is both an AM and FM station, broadcasting 24 hours a day. Our FM is a Southern gospel format, providing what we call “life-changing music and Christ-centered teaching programs,” and reaching northwest Alabama, southern Tennessee, and northeast Mississippi with 25,000 watts of power. Our AM station is home to a daily two-hour radio program called the “Party Line,” and an Adult Standards music format branded as “Memory Music.”
As a freshman in college in 1998, I started out on the AM hosting the Party Line and assisting with high school football broadcasts, and soon began hosting the afternoon drive on the FM where I fell in love with Southern gospel music. After college, I left the station to attend seminary in Texas, and after graduation I moved back to Alabama to begin pastoring a church. However, I still had the radio itch to scratch, and it wasn’t long before I began working part-time at the station again while also serving as a full-time pastor. My twin passions for Southern gospel radio and church ministry often overlap as I’ve had opportunities to bring in artists such as the Kingsmen, the Hoppers, and the Talleys to our church.
VA: If you could interview anyone in any genre of music who would you pick?
CB: There are still quite a few Southern gospel artists that I’ve yet to meet and would love to interview. However, if we opened it up to other genres, I would like to interview Sara Evans. I don’t typically enjoy listening to country music, but she’s definitely an exception. In fact, the way I met my wife was through our mutual admiration of Sara’s music. We kept getting into bidding wars on Ebay over Sara Evans memorabilia, so I emailed her to ask if she would let me win once in a while! We soon began exchanging emails, then realized we had a lot more in common than just musical tastes, and the rest, as they say, is history. Oh, and if I ever do get to interview Sara, I’d love for her husband — former University of Alabama Q.B. Jay Barker — to join in because he was one of my heroes growing up. Roll Tide!
VA: Will you share your testimony?
CB: I was raised in a Christian home and in a conservative, evangelical church in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where the pastor made a special effort to personally disciple me starting at a young age. I also had a Sunday School teacher who motivated me to memorize a verse of Scripture each week. Through the daily reading of God’s Word, I became convicted of the sin that was present in my life, and of my need for a Savior. So, as a ten-year-old boy, I turned to Jesus in repentance and faith, trusting only in his shed blood for my salvation. At the time, I did not understand everything about the conversion experience, but I did know that I was not perfect, and with a child-like faith I clung to the One who is perfect, by whose stripes I have been made whole.
Five years after my salvation experience, the Lord began to reveal to me his plan for a future in ministry. I didn’t know exactly what form that would take, but I just wanted to be obedient to his will for my life, so I publicly surrendered to the call to ministry. At the time, I remember hearing Dr. Charles Stanley preaching on the very station that I would grow up to work for, and he said if the Lord truly calls someone, he won’t find joy or fulfillment doing anything else. During the time between receiving the call and accepting it, I became restless as I wrestled with what I knew to be God’s plan for my life. I realized that I could not be happy doing anything other than exercising my spiritual gifts in the work of the ministry. Now, many years later, that call still rings in my mind, and I remain firmly committed to it, both through pastoral ministry and broadcast ministry.
VA: Tell us about your family.
CB: I have been happily married to the former Tiffany Dunaway of Houston, Texas, since 2003. My wife is my best friend and partner in ministry. Without her devoted support, I would have been unable to serve in vocational ministry. Tiffany has worked as a pharmacy technician since early 2009. She is also quite handy with computers, and if I ever run into a problem with our P.C.s at the station, she’s the first person I call.
VA: Tell us about a special day at the station. Is there one that stands out in your mind over the rest?
CB: Getting to work alongside long-time radio pros like Paul Slatton, Jerry Edgil, and Don McGee is still special for me. But one of the greatest thrills of working in Southern gospel radio, is the opportunity to interview my favorite artists. I have an autographed photo of the Cathedral Quartet on my desk that reminds me of their final appearance in Florence, Ala., as part of their Farewell Tour in 1999. We did a remote broadcast from the coliseum, and our station manager, Paul Slatton, allowed me to conduct my very first on-air interview, and it happened to be with the greatest quartet of all time. I still get nervous just thinking back to that moment, but they were so gracious to me as I fumbled through a page of questions that I had scribbled down in case I went blank. I had a chance to speak to Ernie Haase at N.Q.C. this past September, and told him how much that moment meant to me as a 20-year-old just starting out in radio.
Thank you, Chuck Bradford, for sharing from your heart while beneath the DJ Spotlight.
By Vonda Armstrong
Vonda Armstrong is a regular contributor to SGNScoops Magazine, is a radio personality on SGMRadio and WPIL, as well as heading up Advertising and Social Media for SGNScoops. She owns Hey Y’all Media and Hope’s Journey. Find out more HERE.