Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed CEO Alfredo Ortiz of Job Creators Network to the newsmaker line to talk about his rise from poverty, the values his parents instilled, and how the American dream is attainable for minorities despite the Democrat narrative.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, our very good friend, the CEO of the Job Creator Network, Mr. Alfredo Ortiz. Welcome, Alfredo.
Ortiz: Hey, good morning, Michael. Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.
Leahy: It’s great to have you on. You wrote a book. Not exactly what’s going to get you on MSNBC. The title of the book is The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides. You’ve got a personal story about your parents and how they came to America. I think that is a good starting point on this.
Ortiz: Yes, absolutely. I don’t necessarily think I’m going to be on this year’s White House Christmas list for some reason. But look, I push back on a narrative that long has been true from the left, which is basically that we need more government intervention, really, to try to break the racial and economic divide.
But I know firsthand that entrepreneurialism and capitalism really is the way to go. And if you think about the inflow of immigrants, there is no outflow of immigrants from the U.S. to other parts of the country.
It’s always inflow because they know best that this country is a land of opportunity where the American dream is possible so far if the government just gets out of the way and lowers taxes and lowers regulations.
But as I said, I know firsthand what it was like I grew up in Chula Vista, California. We were quite poor. My dad was a tailor. My mom was a housekeeper. I remember on trash days, my mom and I would pop into pop into our car, and we’d drive around and we’d get aluminum cans and newspapers and those trash cans, and we’d take it over the YMCA, cash it in, and that was her grocery money for the week.
And then to make ends meet, she would also do craft sales and bake sales. That’s why I always say that she was the first and best entrepreneur that I ever knew.
Leahy: Your parents came from Mexico City a little over 50 years ago. They’re no longer with us, but they had some values that they shared with you. Tell us about those values.
Ortiz: Yes, absolutely. The values really are hard work and the idea that, frankly, you can do anything if you have a vision and you have a belief and you have a dream. You can work hard and get there. And that was one thing that I remember.
There was a time when the USDA would hand out surplus eggs, bread, milk, and cheese to lower-income folks and our church was actually a distribution point, Michael. And we were the ones that would help receive the truck. We would set it all up, and only at the very end would we collect ours.
Because my mom always believed that if you’re an able-bodied individual, even though you might not be able to have an income, to have a life you necessarily want, and you do need some government help that you can work for that and you can contribute to society in some way, shape, or form.
Leahy: Tell us about your personal career. You grew up poor in Chula Vista, California. Your parents were legal immigrants from Mexico. How did you get into and become an entrepreneur?
Ortiz: Wow, it was quite a path. First of all, truly, I have to give credit where credit is due and thank God for the wonderful path that he laid in front of me. But of course, my mother and all of her hard work and sacrifices. But I was the first one to finish high school, the first one to finish college and grad school.
And again, those were educators that believed in me, and that helped me along the way. But then I went into the corporate world, and I worked mostly in consumer product goods, marketing, market research, finance, and consulting.
I have my own consulting firm, which was in Atlanta, and I sold that to a former Coca-Cola executive. And then I also have my own construction company in Atlanta. I had two small businesses myself, and I know exactly what it is, like I say, to sign the front of a check and the back of a check.
Leahy: In the spring of last year, you testified in the House of Representatives and the Ways and Means Committee, and you argued that minorities can in fact, overcome racial economic gaps through entrepreneurship.
The Democrats didn’t like that message. Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands, a delegate there, tell us what she said about your testimony.
Ortiz: (Chuckles) Yes, it wasn’t received well at all by the Democrat members who said they were troubled by the rhetoric and claimed I was inappropriate and ignorant to actually argue that minorities can overcome their circumstances through entrepreneurship even though I was sitting right in front of them.
Leahy: So hold on. You’re a minority. You’re Hispanic.
Leahy: And so you overcame poverty through entrepreneurship. How do the Democrats call that inappropriate?
Ortiz: Inappropriate and ignorant. Please don’t forget that word ignorant.
Leahy: Look, there are a lot of words I could use to describe you, Alfredo. Ignorant is not one of them. Oh, man.
Ortiz: Michael, I tell you, I was pretty peeved, I have to tell you. And I pushed back. I asked for an apology, which I didn’t get because she claimed that she wasn’t talking about me oh, no. Even though I was the sole Republican witness at that hearing. I’m like, who else are you talking about?
So it was pretty interesting. But I was glad I pushed that back, because this is, I think, a narrative that we really have to have to keep pushing back on. It’s not just kind of a belief that I have. I got to read this piece of data.
I have a lot of data points in the book, which hopefully people go to Amazon and it’s available on Kindle and paperback. But we dug up a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation study that found that the median net worth for black business owners is 12 times higher than for black non-business owners.
In other words, black entrepreneurs more than eliminate racial income and wealth gaps, earning and saving far more than median white households. Interesting fact? Don’t you think?
Leahy: It is. Has CNN invited you on to talk about this yet?
Ortiz: No, they have not. And I have a funny feeling that they’re probably not because again, this is a narrative that they do not want to be put out there because again, they want that sense of victimhood and that reparations for the racial divide is the only way out and more government.
And so obviously this is counter to all that because this talks about entrepreneurialism capitalism, hard work, the American dream look, everything that they actually detest, we really embrace in this book. And so it’s a great read, I think, and I encourage people to go pick it up.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alfredo Ortiz” by Alfredo Ortiz. Photo “The Real Race Revolutionaries” by Amazon. Background Photo “Small Business” by ELEVATE.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Job Creators Network’s CEO Alfred Ortiz to the newsmakers line to talk about their cheeky billboard that calls out Major League Baseball Commissioner Manfred on pulling All-Star Game from Atlanta.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line our very good friend, the CEO of Job Creators Network, Alfredo Ortiz. Good morning, Alfredo.
Ortiz: Good morning Michael. How are you?
Leahy: Well, it’s great to finally interview you on the radio. We’ve been on a lot of projects together and worked together. And I must say, my hat is off to you my friend because you are the man behind what I’m going to say now is perhaps one of the most iconic Times Square billboards in history. And tell us what the billboard says and tell us what the reaction has been.
Ortiz: Yeah, well, you know, as you know in the news, there’s been a lot of conversation about the pullout from the All-Star Game out of Atlanta and the Commissioner Manfred. Manfred being the guy who made that decision. And so we’ve been trying to make a statement about that because in Atlanta it cost $100 million for mainly minority small business owners. So the billboard we just put up went up first thing Monday morning, basically says Commissioner Manford, all strikes, no balls? (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Wait just a minute, just a minute. So you’ve got a picture of Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, who, by the way, from what I can tell he is a Harvard Law School grad attorney. I don’t think he’s ever played baseball in his life. I think he made this politically correct just out of a knee-jerk reaction to pressure from left-wing groups. I don’t think I even looked at the Georgia election law, the common-sense election law.
Leahy: But just to be clear, you’ve got this is so funny. I don’t know how you came up with this Alfredo. It’s just pure genius. (Ortiz chuckles) So there’s a picture of Rob Manfred, and it says, wait for it…All strikes and no balls?
Ortiz: Michael, I don’t even understand. It just like a baseball term, isn’t it? But in all seriousness, I think it’s so appropriate because of the way we see it, right? First of all, we call them the way we see them. And strike one, first of all, is he gave in to the whole misinformation and all the lives of this woke crowd about the Georgia voting law. As you said, I doubt he even read the darn thing.
Strike two, he moved the MLB game out of Atlanta on that false information. And then the third strike against him, he cost the state of Georgia again, mostly minorities small business owners. Estimates are over $100 million in lost revenue for again, primarily minority-owned small businesses. And for what? To move it to Denver, of all places, probably one of the most white suburban areas that you can find, right? You’ve got Atlanta that is like minority to nine percent Denver.
You’ve got nine times as many Black-owned small businesses in Atlanta then there are in Denver. Yet he decides to make the move to Denver out of Atlanta. And so what are we doing? We’re basically saying, look, Commissioner, do the right thing, move it back. You hurt minority small business owners. And with the same speed at which you pulled it out of Atlanta, you can put it back in.
Leahy: Has he sent you a response to that request yet Alfredo?
Ortiz: You know, oddly enough, he hasn’t called me for lunch yet. And I’m not quite sure why Michael. (Leahy chuckles) I’m still trying to decide that. But just in case he missed the billboard, we’re going to go for a letter very soon here that’s going to be hitting his desk. And we’re going to try it again because again, there is time. He literally made that move.
Michael as you know in two days. Basically, in two days, he made that move. And so we’re saying move it back because that is the right thing to do. Forget the woke culture, the Stacey Abrams pressure, which is absolutely ridiculous and complicit in all this as well. I’ll put the Delta’s and I’ll put the Coca-Cola’s in there because they are also part of complicit in this dissemination of misinformation on the Georgia Voting Act.
And, of course, they’re taking this playbook now, Stacey Abrams and company and taking it to all different States. And basically what I’m calling it is extortion. It’s kind of the old mafia shakedown of our public companies and CEOs.
Leahy: Let’s go back to the decision to go with all strikes and no balls? (Laughter) How does that idea? I mean, it’s perfect. It’s beyond perfect Alfredo.
Ortiz: Well, you know, Michael, you probably remember that we started off kind of on using billboards. I’m an old marketing guy, and I like billboards. I know it’s an old media, but I actually think it really works. And Times Square is so powerful. Remember when AOC brilliantly decided to push Amazon out and the 25,000 jobs it was bringing to New York City? We put up a nice billboard on that, which basically says, thanks for nothing AOC.
And we started that, of course, then she got on Twitter and we responded with a billboard. So it was the famous billboard Twitter war between us. And so part of it is just we need to be public about this. I think part of the issue that Conservatives have is that they’re conservative by nature and we’re afraid to go out there and take the gloves off and just really go at it. And the left doesn’t do that.
The left just comes out, they intimidate, and they push against the wall. We’re so ginger about so many things in our conversation. I think we need to get to this point, Michael, where we just take these stances, we make it public and we go, you know what? Enough is enough. We’re going to make these comments that we’re going to say things like all strikes and no balls Manfred because that’s exactly what it is.
And so, again, we’re going to be holding people accountable we’re going to be holding public officials accountable. We’re going to be holding CEOs accountable because I think we’re at the point in this country, Michael, where people are just fed up. People are just so fed up about all this wokeism and all this other stuff, and it’s just really now hurting this country.
Look what happened in Georgia. Again minority small business owners primarily got hurt. Cobb County, Fulton County, minorities, and minority-owned small businesses. $100 million. I mean, what are they going to do? How are they going to get back $100 million? Is Coke or Delta going to write a check for that amount to cover that loss now?
Leahy: Well, that’s a very good point. Now, the billboard has been up in Times Square in New York City for a little over 48 hours. Tell us about the reaction to that billboard in the media and around the country.
Ortiz: Well, it’s gotten a lot of attention as you can imagine. People have actually made comments about my own particular. I wouldn’t even say it.
Leahy: (Laughs) I got you. We know what you mean, Alfredo. You don’t have to say it. We got it. (Ortiz laughs)
Ortiz: From this perspective. People are finally saying thank goodness. A group, an organization that finally speaks up. And Molly Hemingway picked up on this right away. She’s got, like, 600,000 Twitter followers.
Leahy: From The Federalist.
Ortiz: And I have to tell you, I mean, the response, if you look at that Twitter feed, it’s been great. I think, like, 99 percent of the people are like, yes, stand up! A few people are like, well, you know how we immature and stuff like that. Sure. Maybe if you want to call it that. But I don’t think I actually think it was very mature. We’re just calling it the way it is.
Leahy: It was just an accurate description of what kind of guy. Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball is all strikes and no balls. I don’t even think you need a question mark on it. (Ortiz chuckles)
Ortiz: Here’s where he could basically redeem himself, and it would show that he actually does have a pair is moving it back to Atlanta.
Leahy: (Laughs) That’s very good, Alfredo. That’s very good. Our listing audience is cracking up as we go. And our in studio guest Andy Ogles Mayor Maury County is laughing because it’s so funny. The Job Creators Network is based in Atlanta. You basically represent the ideas and policies that support small businesses around the country. I notice CNN is also based in Atlanta. Have they paid any attention to this story?
Ortiz: Oh, are you kidding, Michael? C’mon. They wouldn’t cover this at all. As you notice, you rarely hear about the plight of small businesses. In fact, I haven’t seen a single story on CNN, and I may go back and try to find one and there may be one in the past three years. But really, the plight of small businesses is not covered at all by CNN.
It’s not covered at all by the left media by the lamestream media, as we call it, right. And that’s because they don’t want to highlight that because really small business owners are being really just crucified effectively by some of these policies that Biden has already put in place or looking in putting place. We’re actually calling it the war on small business.
Leahy: Yeah, it is.
Ortiz: If you really look at what’s happening. First of all, the COVID came out of nowhere. It hit these small businesses. Thank God though, under the Trump administration, we had a great program that was put out there that we actually got very involved in with the paycheck protection program. It saved 50 million jobs, Michael. 50 million jobs across over 5 million businesses in this country.
And when we needed to do more they just stalled it, stalled it, and stalled it. It’s a miracle that the small businesses that were able to pull out did actually pull out. Once the Biden administration came in, instead of coming up with other great programs like that. What are they doing? They’re talking about federally mandated $15 minimum wages. They’re talking about potential tax increases in three different ways.
A million small business owners that do their taxes, and our C corps. A million of those could be subject to that increase of 33 percent on that corporate tax rate. And then you have another 15 million small business owners, Michael, that are probably going to also feel the pain and the bruise if they roll back that 20 percent tax deductions that so many small business owners use to pay higher wages, hire more people, more benefits, and invest back in their businesses.
They might lose that. And then to top it all off, the third round of potential tax increases that he’s looking at is the increase on the top tax rate. So every successful small business owner that actually survives through this and kept people on the payroll is now going to have a tax increase on top of everything else.
Listen to the full broadcast here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the CCO of Job Creators Network Elaine Parker to the newsmakers line.
At the top of the second hour, Parker outlined the purpose and mission of Job Creators Network and the 30 million small businesses that they represent advocating for lower taxes and fewer regulations, and pro-growth policies. She added that the best stimulus small businesses could receive right now is to be able to open up in all of the states.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend Elaine Parker the chief communications officer of Job Creators Network. Good morning Elaine.
Parker: Good morning Michael. How are you?
Leahy: I’m just great to have you on. I think this may be the first time we’ve talked many many a time on many many projects. I think this is the first time we’ve actually interviewed you on a regular program. So it’s a real pleasure for me to have you this morning.
Parker: Well, thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Leahy: So Job Creators Network. Tell us a little bit about the Job Creators Network because a lot of people who are in our audience are small business owners. And as you know, you can tell it’s about what you guys do. Small businesses drive the economy and create jobs in America. Tell us about Job Creators Network.
Parker: Absolutely Michael. As you said, they do drive the economy in America. There are 30 million small business owners in this country and they include 60 million people. They’ve obviously been extremely hurt under this pandemic for the last ten months or so. But Job Creators Network has really been advocating for them. Not just during the pandemic but for the last 10 years that we’ve been in existence as a national small business advocacy organization.
And we are founded by a man named Bernie Marcus. And if you haven’t heard of Bernie Marcus well he’s the co-founder of the Home Depot. And he really believed in small businesses. He still thinks of himself as a small business owner. He’s not part of the Home Depot anymore. He’s 91 now, but very much involved in the business of America and keeping it America and defending free enterprise. And he believes that it starts with defending entrepreneurs and people like him who have the next big idea. And so we advocate for small businesses for lower taxes and fewer regulations and pro-growth policies overall.
Leahy: If somebody our listening audience is a small business and wants to learn how to be part of this advocacy group, what do they do? And how many small businesses are part of the network? The Job creators Network?
Parker: Well, we represent all of the 30 million small business owners that are in America. They are actually members of the organization. We’ve got probably about half a million grassroots members as part of the organization. If anybody listening is interested in learning more that you go to jobcreatorsnetwork.com.
They can join the organization and sign up for our newsletter. There’s just a lot of information particularly with the upcoming Paycheck Protection Program, which has been renewed finally by Congress and will help small business owners continue to get through this pandemic and provide some additional assistance. So we’re trying to be an information center on issues like that for small businesses as well.
Leahy: You look at what’s going on in the country today and you see the rise of power of the Big Tech oligopolies. And the people that are getting crushed by this are our smaller businesses. You know, the restaurants that have all these rules and regulations. and really the larger companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, they’ve done well in the pandemic in part because of local and state and federal policies. What do you see going forward over the next six months or 12 months as the big challenges facing small businesses?
Parker: Yes. So one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is their inability to open up. And that would be the best stimulus to them is to allow them to open up in all of the states. Michael, as you know that we had a jobs report last Friday, which was extremely disappointing. We lost 140,000 jobs. And that’s a result of all of these shutdowns.
And you are absolutely right, you know, big business has done extremely well during this pandemic because that’s the only place that anybody can go to get anything. And you know, when you look at states like New York and California, New Jersey, they’ve continued to keep their small businesses shut down telling them that they’re not essential businesses. And yet large businesses are able to stay open.
It’s interesting, I don’t know if you saw Governor Cuomo’s Tweet yesterday. But I think he’s finally coming around because he tweeted out that we have to open and he wants to get his economy open otherwise there won’t be an economy to reopen. And he says that we can do it safely. Well, I’m in the state of Florida and my governor’s been saying that for a month and he’s been accused of putting politics over safety. But yet my state is doing a lot better.
Leahy: Florida is doing much better than New York.
Leahy: So Elaine in eight days and five hours now Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. At a national level, what issues are going to be important to small businesses? And what do you see will be the big agenda items for Job Creators Network?
Parker: Well, you know Michael next week we will have a new president and the new administration coming in. And unfortunately with the Senate turning over to Democrats, they have the trifecta of power in Washington D.C. And the biggest losers there is the small business because it will allow the Democrats to implement a very anti-business agenda which will include a massive tax hike.
Healthcare public options, energy, environmental, and labor regulations. And that’s unfortunate because our small business owners are coming out of trying to come out of this pandemic after 10 months of shutdowns and just catastrophic economic damage. And we’ve lost a lot of small businesses at this point. And that’s going to be really important.
But the big-ticket items that we think the Democrats want to go after first is going to be the Green New Deal and a tax hike and that healthcare public option. And they’re going to want to do that by eliminating the filibuster. And our goal is to help organize and focus the small business voice so that we can focus on pro-growth politicians in Washington D.C. and amplify that voice so they can hear what kind of detrimental impact that will have on small businesses.
Leahy: But Elaine, the Democratic senator from was West Virginia, Joe Manchin has promised, has promised he’s going to oppose a filibuster. If he were to honor that promise, then they wouldn’t be able to get past the 50 that would give them the ability with the tiebreaker from Kamala Harris to get rid of the filibuster. Are you having any conversations with Joe Manchin to see if will honor his promise on the filibuster?
Parker: I’ve not had any conversations with him. I’m not a lobbyist obviously but you know, those are the types of Democrats in Washington that we would like to hear from and that understand the importance of not only a free enterprise system but the impact that small businesses play on our economy. You know, they produce two-thirds of all new jobs and they employ half of our labor force.
And they have driven this economy for the last four years up until this pandemic which we’ve seen, you know records in every area from hourly earnings growing to the lowest unemployment rate that we’ve seen in half a century in every demographic across the board. And when you’re staring at tax increases on federal and in some cases state levels in some of these states like New York, you’re looking at hurting job creators, small business owners, and their employees.
Because when you hurt small business owners and when you hurt job creators, you hurt the employees that work for them because it takes capital away from being able to create jobs and expand businesses and it puts it in Washington D.C. It’s not as useful there.
Leahy: You mentioned state governments. And this is a theme that I’ve been talking about that it’s time for the states to assert the authority that they have in the Constitution that’s been usurped by the federal government. You look at the states and you see that there are a number of states maybe 15 or so that have really gone out of their way to crush small businesses.
But there are other states like Tennessee that are more small business-friendly. What kind of role do you play in talking with these various states and do you see an increase in the small business friendliness of certain states while it becomes less friendly in other states?
Parker: Yes. So we have members all across the country and obviously a lot of the issues that we deal with at the federal level. We see in a microcosm at state levels. And so we do focus on those issues directly impacting our members. First of all, let me start with the fact that small business owners are not political. It’s not about It’s for them. It’s about growing their business.
It’s about having the freedom to grow their business and hire more people and be the entrepreneurs that they are. And they are the most flexible and they can adjust in ways that big business can’t to things like the pandemic. I mean, you’ve seen restaurant owners go from indoor dining to curbside pickup to deliveries. I mean the things that small business owners have done to survive this pandemic in spite of the government.
Not because the government helped them but in spite of government shutdowns and local ordinances and things like that is what has helped them survive. And to come back and slap them in the face with things like $15 an hour minimum wage hikes and environmental regulations and labor regulations and healthcare increased costs and all kinds of things that are being talked about on the Democratic side.
We have to spend time educating our legislators on how will impact small business because they drove this economy. They were on the front end of the pandemic. But they, I truly believe Michael that they will be the drivers to get us out of this. But we have to help them through good policy.
Leahy: I can tell from your voice that you talked with a lot of small business owners and you can feel the passion they have for being successful and delivering the services and products that they want to deliver independently. I think that’s the theme. There’s a character of the members of small businesses that seems to it embodies the American character. It seems to me.
Parker: Yeah and I do talk to small business owners every day. And they’re very concerned about the types of policies that they are coming down the pike at them. And they are directed right at them because they don’t have wars of lawyers and lobbyists in Washington D.C. I mean, they are many times the chief, cook, and bottle washer of their organizations.
And what I try to help them understand is they are not alone. This is a community. The small business community. No matter what industry you’re in is a community of 30 million voices in this country. And when we rally them together and bring them together and amplify that voice through the media, through talking in Washington or your state capitals and talking to legislators and helping and getting involved and engaged through organizations like Job Creators Network.
This is what we do. Legislators understand. And the best thing that small business owners can do or any American can do is vote. And that’s what makes them so valuable to politicians is their vote. And so small business owners can have a huge impact in the next two years before the next election. In telling politicians what they need in order to come out of this pandemic.
Leahy: When you look at the various state policies and how they respond to these policies, are you seeing some states that have more small business-friendly policies than others? And what does that mean for the growth of small businesses in those states? We have one minute here Elaine.
Parker: Well, look, there’s an exodus of people from New York in small businesses and individuals coming to Florida. And they’re not coming just for the weather although that’s enticing. They’re coming because they’re tired of the lockdowns. They’re tired of the high taxes. Cuomo’s promised high taxes. And they want to come here and have more freedom and run their businesses and be left alone, frankly, and get out of this pandemic. My hope is that they don’t bring their politics to Florida. (Chuckles)
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Elaine Parker” by Elaine Parker.