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Ray's station wins CMA market award

Radio business is nothing out of the ordinary for Tommy Ray.
The Erwin native was recently showcased at the national level, accepting the Major Market Radio Station of the Year award on Wednesday, Nov. 4, during the live telecast of the 2015 Country Music Awards.
Ray, who serves as the program director at WPOC-FM in Baltimore, Md., accepted the prize for the station. The award was the third for the station with the other two awarded during the 1990s.
“I was honored to receive the CMA on behalf of my team in Baltimore,” Ray told The Erwin Record. “The radio station has a veteran staff led by a wonderful woman named Laurie DeYoung who just this year celebrated 30 years hosting the morning show.”
An extensive judging process goes into the selection of the award, Ray said. The judges review different items, including the community the radio station serves, the content of the station and an audio package.
“We found out we were nominated several months ago,” Ray said. “Up to four or five stations are nominated.”
The announcement of the award came a couple of weeks prior to the event when the radio station received a phone call from country recording artist Kelsea Ballerini
Ray is as a multi-year veteran of the radio business. As part of his work in Baltimore, he also handles the duties of a Top 40 station in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been with the station since February,” Ray said. “I’ve been across the country with different stations, but I’ve been with iHeartMedia for 15 years now. It was an exciting time to receive the award and we were honored to be selected.”
Ray started his career on the airwaves of Unicoi County – experience he said that has served him and will continue to serve him well through his career.
“A great country radio station is really built around God, family, country and having a good time with friends,” Ray said. “That is really what Unicoi County is all about. That community really prepared me well for the role I’m in today.”
Ray’s father, Charles “Chuck” Ray, and Jim Crawford knew how to keep the radio bug alive during their time with AM 1420 WEMB.
“I was lucky to follow in the footsteps of great role models,” Ray said. “I remember walking through the station and everyone being great to work with and providing great encouragement. That’s what country radio is all about: small town USA.
“Coming from a community like Unicoi County and a town like Erwin really prepared me for the country side of the radio business.”
Ray said individuals interested in checking out the station, can visit or listen to the station by searching through the iHeartRadio app on their smartphones or tablets.