Christian radio WQBC to be replaced by ESPN sports talk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 30, 2008

ESPN sports talk radio is coming to Vicksburg next week at 1420 on the AM dial, replacing Christian talk radio programming that’s been on the air since 2004.

Nashville-based Debut Broadcasting has entered an agreement with Grace Media International to take over the station and small studio on Porters Chapel Road beginning Monday.

“The plan right now is to be 24-7 sports talk,” said Debut Broadcasting CEO Steve Ludwig. “My observation is Vicksburg is pretty sports crazy. I think it will be very popular.”

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Though the lease begins Monday, Ludwig said the ESPN programming — which will include broadcasts of games as well as popular nationally-syndicated programs such as “Mike and Mike in the Morning” and “Pardon the Interruption” — will begin at an unknown date next week. Debut Broadcasting will begin playing sports-themed songs and school fight songs Monday until ESPN programming takes over.

Neither Ludwig nor Grace Media International President Michael Corley would discuss the financial terms or the length of the lease, but both confirmed discussions are ongoing about a full sale of the station.

“These lease-management agreements are many times the early stages of a sale,” said Corley, who purchased WQBC in 2001 and launched the all Christian talk format in 2004.  

Corley said he will remain at the station to assist with operations for the time being, but it is still uncertain how the lease will affect the station’s lone part-time employee. “The Michael Corley Program,” a staple of WQBC daily programming, can still be heard online at However, Corley said, a program featuring local Dr. Dan Edney will continue to be featured on the new station at a date and time to be determined.

“A motivating factor for me (to agree to the lease) was having the chance to focus on developing and expanding my radio show,” Corley said. The final broadcast of his show on WQBC was at noon Friday.

Ludwig said a current employee at River 101.3 will serve as program director for WQBC, and anticipates the programing will emphasize local, state and national sports coverage.

“It will be everything from college and high school sports to the World Series and the Super Bowl,” he said. “We’re also exploring the idea of having some local sports talk in addition to the ESPN programs.”  

Debut Broadcasting first entered the Vicksburg market in March, when it purchased WBBV River 101.3 and KLSM Sam 104.5 from Holladay Broadcasting. Debut has kept the popular country format of River 101.3 in tact, but replaced 104.5 Sam with a new format called K-HITS in April.

“We ultimately want to add as many more radio stations in Vicksburg as possible,” said Ludwig. “The goal is deliver advertisers to all the major lifestyle groups here — to offer a one stop shop for advertisers.”

Debut Broadcasting purchased five stations in Indianola, Greenville and Leland in the summer of 2007.