Matthews resident creates Sunday morning talk radio show for seniors
In a culture that often overlooks senior adults, a group of locals are reaching out to these citizens through a weekly talk radio show.
The show, dubbed Radio 4 the Ages, airs Sundays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on WBCN, 1660-AM.
Growing up, founder David Gwilt always loved spending time with older relatives, listening to their stories and cherishing their wisdom.
“The historical aspect of their life course, their hopes and dreams and how they managed through times of change and circumstance, fascinated me,” the Matthews resident said.
Radio 4 the Ages offers a variety of informative entertainment for ages 60 and up. The program serves as a platform for senior-geared organizations to explain their services and offers question-and-answer sessions with experts on aging and open discussions on topics of interest to senior adults and their caregivers.
Gwilt was inspired when he discovered that an estimated 133,000 people age 60 and older currently live in Mecklenburg County. Based on his belief that “all…senior adults are best served when they are informed, involved, active and listened to,” Gwilt decided the best way he could use his abilities to serve these citizens was through radio.
“There’s really nothing (else) like this in Charlotte, and very little nationwide,” Gwilt said.
The process started about three years ago when Gwilt, who already had radio experience as a co-host of “The Dave and Mike Show,” was attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to earn his certificate in gerontology. He approached WBTV about adding a two-hour live talk show segment. The executives were on board with the idea and asked Gwilt to raise the money to jumpstart the program. But then a change in company management pushed the idea to the backburner for a while.
During the next couple of years, Gwilt spent a lot of time getting to know senior citizens in the area. He eventually approached WBCN to buy two hours of time per week for his show, settling on the Sunday morning block, which was the best time available.
Having observed that most of the rare senior-geared radio shows mainly feature financial advisors, lawyers and physicians, Gwilt wanted to make Radio 4 the Ages something more exciting.
Since it launched in September, Radio 4 the Ages has featured a variety of segments, including a program on rights and disabilities, a show featuring a retired ethics professor from UNC Charlotte and even controversial topics like an enforced age limit on driving.
The show is streamed live on its website, www.radio4theages.com, and all sessions are podcasted and made available to listeners who may be at church or elsewhere during the live broadcast.
So far, Gwilt has received an overwhelmingly positive response from his listeners, including one woman who listened to a rights and disabilities program and learned how to feasibly continue living on her own.
“She called and thanked us and told me the show was a blessing,” Gwilt said.
Currently joining Gwilt on the air are co-hosts Matt Weeden and Heather Hammond. Weeden attended Appalachian State University where he studied economics, sociology and anthropology. Weeden also created the Radio 4 the Ages website and currently handles maintaining the site. Hammond, a Charlotte native with a master’s degree in gerontology, works with senior adult services in the area to find out what topics interest senior citizens.
Weeden, 26, believes that his young age and extensive knowledge about technology brings a unique and different perspective to the show.
“I’m really focused not just on (modern) technology, but the roots of technology and what it allows us to do,” Weeden said. “I learn a lot from senior adults and was surprised to find out how interested they are in technology.”
Everyone who works at the station essentially works for free, donating time and efforts to see the show succeed, Gwilt said.
“We have enough sponsors now that (the show is) paid for,” he said. “We’re not (currently) operating as a profit, but we hope to make some money at some point.”
Want to listen?
Radio 4 the Ages, a talk show for seniors, airs Sundays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on WBCN, 1660-AM. The show also is available online at www.radio4theages.com.