Columbia has one fewer local radio station, as The Palm 92.1 (WWNU) officially went off the air permanently Tuesday. It has been replaced by a Christian contemporary format, and the broadcast now originates in Greenville.
The station was sold earlier this year by Davis Media to Radio Training Network. The Palm had operated out of a Gervais Street office since 2012, with a local DJ on air live in the mornings and choosing the music for the remainder of the days and nights. Radio veteran Mike Allen served as DJ and music director for the majority of the run.
Radio Training Network owns WAFJ in Augusta, the HIS Radio network which broadcasts in nine markets in the Carolinas and Georgia, now to include WWNU. The HIS network also broadcasts on 106.3 in Columbia, according to the network’s website. Radio Training Network and HIS Radio did not reply to calls and emails seeking comment on the change in format for The Palm.
The change happened at 4 p.m. Tuesday and was noticed, and not necessarily welcomed, on social media in Columbia. “RIP 92.1 The Palm. It was a great four years,” listener Amber King posted on Facebook. Listener James Heite said “I’m lost without The Palm. I may have to finally get satellite radio.”
Steve Varholy, president and general manager of WXRY 99.3, a nonprofit community-supported station, said his playlists may appeal to some The Palm fans, and said he believes the loss of The Palm came down to money.
“Commercial radio and community-supported radio strive to serve as many people as possible, but that is where the similarity ends,” Varholy said. “The Palm had to do more than financially break even – it had to turn a profit back to its owners like any other for-profit entity. That was the rub. The folks that listened to The Palm loved it. In the end, it appears that there just weren’t enough of them to assure it’s owners that operating the station was a smart long-term investment in a very competitive commercial radio market.”
“We’re glad to welcome any of The Palm listeners to WXRY and to continue to discover music with us,” Varholy continued. “Our focus is more towards indie/alternative music rather than roots and Americana. Our mission is first and foremost to serve the needs of the community and to to help build a vibrant, exciting and engaged area to live by increasing the quality of life through the promotion of our fellow non-profits and local/regional music. Removed from the pressures of generating investor profits, WXRY will be around as long as our neighbors and our strategic partners will have us.”
The Dude 94.3, also previously owned by Davis Media, was sold to an ownership group based in Columbia which plans to preserve the station’s country format.