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Radio Saxonburg hits the airwaves

Emily Balser
| Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 2:27 p.m.
Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
Ken Hawk, left, owner and creator of SaxonburgRadio.com, also known as WSMQ AM1620, and overnight disc jockey Tracy Ambrose work in the basement studio of Hawk's Winfield home on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.

After nearly 30 years in the radio business, Winfield resident Ken Hoculock has finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his own radio station.

Hoculock, better known by his radio name “Ken Hawk,” began work on saxonburgradio.com after he left his full-time job at another station a couple of years ago.

Hoculock's station officially went on the air Oct. 25. He runs the station, WSMQ — found on AM 1620 — out of his basement.

The station can be listened to on a traditional radio or streamed on mobile devices through the TuneIn app. A link is available on the station's website, www.saxonburgradio.com.

“I have an 8 by 8 cube in the basement that houses the on-air and commercial production facility,” Hoculock said. “That's all the space I really need.”

Although Hoculock, 46, has always wanted to own his own station, the dream became a reality after he realized he wanted to spend more time with his family.

After going through several station buyouts and changes over the years that required him to move, he decided he wanted to stay in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

“I got tired of packing and unpacking,” he said. “You get tired of moving after a while.”

Hoculock said listeners can find music for everyone on the station.

“The music that we offer right now is kind of a three-fold programming experience so to speak,” he said.

That experience includes recent hits, classic rock hits and jazz.

Hawk said having the mobile streaming option is an important component of owning the station because more people are listening to radio on their smartphones.

“It's like having a broadcast tower in every city on the planet,” he said. “That's the direction that the industry is heading. We want to be at the forefront of that technology.”

Weekend announcer Ted Lewczyk, known by his radio name “Ted St. James,” agrees that the online component is crucial to the station's reach.

“If you have people that grew up in the area, this gives them an outlet that they can tune it and listen to — to know about stuff going on in their hometown,” he said.

Lewczyk, 51, said he enjoys working for the station because it doesn't have the corporate pressures and rules of many stations today. He has known Hoculock for most of their radio careers and is glad to be working with him again.

“If you have any suggestions, you get to deal with the owner,” he said. “If it was a corporate scenario you'd have to go through hoops to get anything changed.”

Lewczyk said he is looking forward to getting more involved with the community and local Butler County events.

“It's what radio used to be,” he said. “That's the whole idea — get back in, get local again.”

Saxonburg Mayor Pamela Bauman said she is happy to hear about a new radio station in the area.

“I think it's exciting, and it's one more thing to put our little town on the map,” Bauman said. “I commend him for doing it.”

Hoculock said it will take time, but he hopes to add more local programming and advertising as the station grows. He said he is most interested in serving the local residents and businesses.

“We want the community to know we are there and we are available to serve them,” Hoculock said. “All I can say is look for us. We're going to be around.”

Emily Balser is a freelance writer.

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