Since 1997, WHIG-TV has been bringing life in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties on the small screen.
The station broadcasts a variety of local programs, everything from karaoke contests to local talk shows. It also airs fundraising shows for causes, everything from the American Red Cross’s “Pie in the Face” benefit to a live auction supporting the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
Earlier this month, the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce awarded station owner Herb Greenberg the Woody Brown Award, which annually is given to an individual dedicated to the chamber’s work and community good deeds.
“If it’s happening in town, he’s all over it,” the chamber’s release about the award states.
Before going into broadcasting, Greenberg was an owner of Rocky Mount Undergarment, a textile plant that for 30 years produced underwear. When that business faltered as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, pushing textile work overseas, the idea of opening a community television station was appealing.
“The license was available. I wanted to be more involved in the community,” he said.
The station broadcasts from the former Rocky Mount power plant at 1701 Sunset Ave., where it has an antenna on top of the multistory building.
“We get better reception from this tall building,” Greenberg said.
A community television station is ideal for the population size of Rocky Mount, said General Manager Sandra Smith, who has been with the station for 13 years.
“Rocky Mount is a perfect place for us to be headquartered,” she said. “It’s so perfect, because in a town of 60,000, a lot of us know each other and support each other. Selling ads for us I think would have been harder in a big city because people don’t know you. We sell a lot of ads because people know Herb, know his dedication to the community. He’s been president of the Jaycees. He’s been on several boards. They know him. We buy from these companies, and they reciprocate.”
Smith worked for Jefferson Pilot Financial Service before WHIG.
“I had no broadcast experience, but I’ve had so much fun and have learned a lot,” she said.
Q: What products or services do you provide?
A: Greenberg: We do programming and advertising for local businesses.
Smith: We offer broadcast programs. Of course, advertising via commercial spots.
Greenberg: We’re totally local, 24-7. We stream on whigtv.com so that our customers have a worldwide audience.
Smith: We’re on four cable systems. We’re on Suddenlink, CenturyLink’s Prism TV, Greenlight Cable in Wilson and Crystal Broadband in Nash and Edgecombe counties. We are also over the air on Channel 31 if you have an antenna, which a lot of people do.
We do cover a lot of community events and broadcasts. We cover city council meetings, not every one. We also cover the parades in the area, all the festivals in the area, such as the Blooming Festival, the Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down festival in Rocky Mount, The Wilson Whirligig Festival.
We offer lots of talk shows. We have the “Morning Show,” which is Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and a show called “Tri-County Live” on Monday and Wednesday evenings, with a variety of hosts.
Q: Who are your key leaders?
A: Herb Greenberg, owner; Sandra Smith, general manager; Andrew Breedlove, special projects coordinator; and Edward Greene, traffic manager.
Q: Ho many people do you employ?
Q: What is your business philosophy?
A: Smith:We are just all about the community. We want to be here for the community, to be an outlet for the community.
Greenberg: That pretty much sums it up. We want to be all about the community that we serve. Rocky Mount is a perfect place for us to be headquartered.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: Smith:You can be on TV in five minutes, unlike networks. They can’t do that. When Herb first started he had zero programming. You have to build it up.
Greenberg: We’re so deeply tied to the community. We’d like to show the best side of the community.
Q: How has your business grown last few years?
A: Smith:We have grown. Subscriber-wise, viewership has gone up tremendously. We’ve from 30,000 viewers to 120,000 viewers on a daily basis over the last 10 years because of all cable systems that have accepted us.
Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?
A: Smith: We are really expecting a lot of expansion. We are able now to go live on location. Greenlight Cable in Wilson carries Wilson Tobs ball games live. We’re starting a live element of WHIG to go out and film live events, so that should be exciting. We’re expanding our service area. We’re going to work harder in the Prism TV areas. They have put us Henderson, Louisburg, Goldsboro, Snowhill, all these outlying small cities. We’ll work more in those communities.