What is: WABG Radio
What was: The Delta Blues was born out of a mixture of despair and dreaming. It reflects the distressed reality for blacks in the southern US states combined with the hopeful lyrical charm and beat of the great hymns of old. At its core, the Delta Blues is a heartbeat. It is a pulse that kept entire generations alive through the many trials and misfortunes of life.
The delta blues began in Mississippi among the plantations of the Mississippi River delta. The delta itself stretched from Vicksburg to Memphis. The overflow of the river left vast areas of fertile land that would turn into the cotton and vegetable plantations of the Deep South. Following the American Civil War, ex-slaves and sharecroppers continued to work the fields in the harshest of conditions.
As they labored, they sang. And the songs they sang were a reflection of the simplicity and poverty of life in the delta. In its initial form, the delta blues might have sometimes included a guitar or other similarly simple instrument.
It is in the Delta where there was a legendary meeting between Robert Johnson and the devil at the crossroads. Robert Johnson is said to have exchanged his soul for the ability to play a distinct form of guitar. His life, riddled by reason to despair, was short-lived and yet the blues style he created has forever changed the face of music.
Radio was the center of mass media during 1930s, 40s and 50s. Many people in the area couldn’t read and most couldn’t afford a television. Radio had the distinction of being able to both entertain and inform its listeners. It was this power to open and transform minds. Once there were dozens of stations like WABG broadcasting delta blues to listeners all over the country. But as music and mass media evolved, WABG remained the same. This was, however, by the intention of its owner and sole disc jockey.
The station’s format is Mississippi Delta Blues, Classic Rock and “Stuff” (anything the listeners want to hear and anything the DJs want to play). Its originator, James Poe, bases the format on the Mississippi Delta’s diverse population mix. His belief is that with the rich culture of the delta and their history of southern rock & roll and blues and their proximity to Memphis, makes this format a daring likely success. The station’s Money Road location is also the setting for the burial ground of legendary blues man Robert Johnson (one of many).
Appropriately, the station’s physical location is set in the midst of the cotton fields of Greenwood, Mississippi on Money Road where the Emmett Till case unraveled in the 1950s, sparking the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The station is located less than a mile from the Little Zion M. B. Church and cemetery, one of the places thought to be the grave of Robert Johnson