ST. PETERSBURG – Gospel music lovers will be glad to learn that Sister Dianne Hughes is back on the FM radio dial in St. Petersburg spinning the sounds of praise.
Listeners in St. Pete can tune into WBPU 96.3 FM every Sunday morning from 6-8 a.m. to hear Sister Hughes’ inspirational broadcast. Those outside St. Pete can listen to “Total Praise” on the free Black Power 96 app.
Sister Hughes has called St. Pete home since the age of three and graduated from Gibbs High School in 1968.
“I was raised in the church and sung in the choir. A love for gospel music stirred in me at a young age.”
Sister Hughes first got involved in radio broadcasting at WRXB in the early 1990s.
“I was always aggravating one host, Reverend Grady Davis, by calling in with my music requests. He was a blind pastor who really knew his gospel music. One day he asked me to come down and help him to write down the names and songs and pull records for him.”
She was hooked. Sister Hughes spun those gospel sounds for 26 years on WRXB, initially as a volunteer and then receiving a small stipend.
WRXB was the region’s first black-owned radio station when it was purchased by Eugene Danzey in 1975. In 1996, Mr. Danzey sold the station and it is now owned by Polnet, a Chicago-based company that specializes in Polish language radio.
Over the years, Sister Hughes received numerous awards for her service to the community, including from the Carter G. Woodson Museum, the National Council of Negro Women, the Mighty Sons of Zion and the Gospel Radio Angel award from Reverend Fleming Tarver and the Florida Spiritualaires.
Hughes’ show on WRXB was canceled in January 2016.
“I heard about WBPU, the new black radio station on the south side”, said Sister Hughes. “I called Smiley (that’s what she calls WBPU’s station manager Diakiesse) and asked if I could get a show on WBPU and here I am. I want to get the word out to let people know I’m back on air.”
WBPU, also known as Black Power 96, is the latest project of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “defend the human and civil rights of the African community and address the grave disparities in health, education and economic development.”
The station features a wide variety of black music and talk shows, powered by local volunteers and artists. Local Gibbs High School students produce an afternoon show called “#NoKlass” on Mondays and Fridays. “Good Morning Africa” delivers a lively mix weekdays with music and talk from around the African world.
“St. Pete Heat” features live local artists every Friday night, while “On The Beat St. Pete” offers relationship advice and humor on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. “Drive Time” specializes in sports banter and popular music on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Comedy, live music and serious news can all be heard on the new station at 96.3 FM. WBPU’s studios are located at 1245 18th Avenue South. Free professional broadcast training and internships are offered to all ages.
Station manager Diakiesse Lungisani declares, “We are so happy to provide access to the radio airwaves for Sister Hughes and other members of our local community. Black Power 96 is not just explaining the world, but changing it, with our own black music, our own black voices, and our black stories!”
WBPU invites any churches or organizations who want to get the word out about events or assistance that they are providing to the community, to contact WBPU at 727-914-3614. To make requests during Sister Hughes’ show, call the studio line, 727-565-1599.