Elaine Hawkes, 48, of Egg Harbor Township, started the nonprofit 24 hour gospel station WEHA-FM 88.7 three years ago with her husband William Hawkes.
It's both a music station and a ministry, she said. Listeners have told her how hearing a particular song helped them when they were troubled.
"We've been so encouraged by comments we get," Hawkes said. "It's like having a church, but we're a radio station."
She and her husband worship at Evangelical Fellowship Church in Pleasantville, and for more than 20 years they have run Hawkes Janitorial Contractors Corp. in Egg Harbor Township. But they took the opportunity to take over WGXM and its Egg Harbor Township studio when it became available, she said.
The nonprofit entity they started, Spread the Gospel, Inc., has a motto: "Spreading the Gospel One Song at a Time."
"In South Jersey we haven't had a consistent gospel network. (There would be a gospel show) on Sunday mornings, and after that you were on your own until next Sunday," she said. "We're (gospel) 24 hours, seven days a week."
In addition to playing music, the station conducts food, toy and clothing drives and runs programming related to community events. It plays a mix of nationally known gospel acts, such as those produced by former Pleasantville resident Rodney Jerkins, as well as local performers.
"We definitely have the door open to local artists," Hawkes said. She said the station plays local groups such as John Howard and the End Time Levites, whose members are from all over Atlantic County; Howard's father's group, The John Howard Gospel Caravans, in its 45th year; the Second Baptist Church Inspirational Chorale Ensemble from Atlantic City; Egg Harbor City's Alicia Oatman & Co.; Atlantic City's Pastor Keni Applewhite and Nikki Pearl, and many more.
Elaine Hawkes is known as Ladie Prayze on air, with a show Monday to Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. William Hawkes is known as El Presidente on air, and his show, Gospel Smooth, runs 9 p.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday. There are many other hosts as well.
The station is holding a fund raising banquet later this month that includes a performance by singer and actress Tamela Mann, of TV's "Meet the Browns." At the banquet, Spread the Gospel will present community awards to two other nonprofits: Court Appointed Special Advocates of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, which works to protect children in the foster care system; and AHEART, which supports and educates people caring for at-risk infants in Atlantic County.
It will also honor two of its workers with excellence awards. They are volunteer Thelma Wither-spoon, 50, of Atlantic City, the host of "In the Community," which runs Saturdays 9 to 10 a.m.; and Stephen Phifer, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, a Richard Stockton College of New Jersey student who is now a paid producer at the station after starting as an intern, Hawkes said. Both have been with WEHA since its start.
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If You Go
WEHA Gospel 88.7 FM 3rd Anniversary Benefit Banquet, 5 p.m. Saturday, at the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center, 6821 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township. Buffet dinner and entertainment by Tamela Mann and local artists, $75 per person. Call 609-641-8870 or visit wehagospel887.com .