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Nov 7, 2017 2:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

WELJ Owners Celebrate One Year On The Air In East Hampton

Matthew Glaser, left, and Andrew Adams at their studio for 104.7 WELJ in East Hampton Village. JON WINKLER
Nov 7, 2017 4:56 PM

On November 2, 2016, two 20-year-old college students found a new activity outside of class: buying and operating a radio station on Park Place in East Hampton Village. The duo had purchased the station from Cumulus Media in the summer of 2016 and set about celebrating.

“Our program director bought us a bottle of grape juice because we weren’t old enough to drink,” Matthew Glaser recently recalled.

The duo had purchased the station from Cumulus Media in the summer of 2016.

One year after that humorous celebratory swig of juice—and the flicking of the switch for 104.7 WELJ—Mr. Glaser and his business partner, Andrew Adams, are now college graduates who show no signs of slowing down. After exclusively playing holiday music at the start, the duo launched a mobile application that live-streams their broadcast on smartphones last Thursday, they have a Rolodex full of local sponsors, and plan to launch a mobile broadcasting station later this month to make their presence even better known on Long Island.

When asked to sum up the work accomplished in the last year with one word, Mr. Glaser didn’t hesitate to use “rewarding.”

“When we bought the station, we needed something creative to do with it,” he said. “We decided that we wanted to broadcast all Christmas music right off the bat and that would be our way to show people that there’s some new young blood running the station. We actually found out that we’re the youngest owners of commercial FM radio in the country.”

“The attention its gotten nationwide is just unprecedented,” Mr. Adams said. “We’ve had other station owners from across the country saying, ‘Your format is fantastic, what’s your secret?’”

After Christmas had passed, Mr. Glaser and Mr. Adams switched the music selection to easy listening staples including The Eagles, Phil Collins and Billy Joel. Mr. Adams said easy listening favorites had always been the plan, after using the time between November 2 and December 26 to hype the upcoming format change and build suspense about the station’s future.

Mr. Glaser added that their market research before launching had concluded that the East End market was in need of a local radio station playing sunny and relaxed tunes like “Take It Easy” in the summertime or “White Christmas” in December. Another outstanding feature of the station is the lack of chatter and lengthy advertisements.

“We don’t have jocks on air, so there’s no annoying voices to listen to, no talking heads,” Mr. Glaser said. “People love it because it’s just the music you want to hear.”

“It’s fun when we’re just walking through town and going into the local businesses and everyone’s playing it,” Mr. Adams said of the station’s programming.

Mr. Glaser pointed out that the station started off with only a handful of fans who noticed the station playing Christmas music in November. However, Mr. Glaser said that was part of the intent—to let listeners know what station to turn to for their Christmas parties and other holiday get-togethers.

“The day we switched to our new format, we had so much excitement from people immediately loving the format,” he said. “But better than that ...”

“… it crashed our servers,” Mr. Adams chimed in with a chuckle.

“It brings people back to the years they remember or it introduces them to music that they really wished they had learned sooner,” Mr. Glaser said.

Despite their youth, Mr. Adams said, the community has been very welcoming. The duo have hired a sales team, production team, and promotional team that round up to10 staff members, with five of them working full-time.

Mr. Adams said that one real challenge had been managing their college schedules while managing a broadcasting outlet.

“Most college graduates don’t start their own business, let alone start and run a successful one before graduating,” he said.

“A normal day for me between Andrew and I was that one of us was in school and one of us was not. Based on the time of day, one of us was sitting in the studio and one of us was studying in the library. One of us was working with our sales team and one of us was out for a date on Friday night,” Mr. Glaser said. “You sort of sound like ‘Hannah Montana’: you get the best of both worlds.”

Mr. Glaser and Mr. Adams often meet with potential sponsors face-to-face. While many radio stations broadcast out of Long Island are owned by a major media company out of state, WELJ is an East End business through and through, they said. The hope is that the new mobile app, which is simply named WELJ, and the upcoming mobile broadcasting station, which is set to be unveiled at the YMCA East Hampton RECenter on Friday, November 17, will allow them to further connect with East End residents.

The mobile station will be playing music at events including the lighting of the Montauk Point Lighthouse’s holiday lights and participating in the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce’s Santa Parade.

“We are about local decision-making and local media,” Mr. Adams said. “That itself is a power and we are leaders of the pack.”

“We’re making mass media personal,” Mr. Glaser said. “We like to roll up our sleeves, shake hands and meet as many people as we can. This is industry-leading.”

Mr. Glaser said that all of the action that WELJ is getting involved in is merely the first step in their plans to further expand the station’s reach into different forms of media.

“We want to be what’s known as ‘omni-channel,’ which is basically we want to be across the spectrum of media,” Mr. Glaser said. “So you’re getting all facets of modern media, mass media and digital media. I expect that we’ll be in many markets and we’re looking not only to expand outside of the East End but in the East End as well.”

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