Seymour radio station changing hands

Life has come full circle for Becky Schepman.

The Seymour native did a summer internship at 92.7 WQKC in her hometown and worked for the campus radio station while attending Western Kentucky University. She also ran the board during broadcasts of University of Kentucky basketball games on 95.1 WGGC in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

After earning a degree in broadcasting with an emphasis on radio and television, she became a morning show host and did sales and marketing for the station.

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She remained there 12 years before taking the next dozen years off until her children were grown. Then in 2017, she became executive director of Seymour Main Street.

On May 4, she will return to the radio world, becoming president of Radio 96.3 WJAA in Seymour. She will take over for Robert Becker, who has owned the station since Sept. 23, 1991.

In her current role with Seymour Main Street, Schepman advocates for the downtown and interacts with business owners, city officials and members of the community.

At the radio station, she will do those things but on a broader scale.

“I’m excited about still being able to be involved in the community,” Schepman said. “I think that’s the cool thing is it’s such a community-oriented station. When Robert talked about me buying the station, he wanted someone that was community-oriented and really linked into the community. I’m excited that I’ll still get to really be involved with everybody that I’ve been working with.”

Schepman having a background in radio and being connected to the community made her the perfect fit for the job, Becker said.

“I feel lucky to find the perfect person to take it over — someone who is from Jackson County, someone who worked in radio, loves radio and someone who has been involved in part of the community and the business community and has that enthusiasm and loves Seymour and Jackson County,” he said.

Becker said he initially chose to make 96.3 a classic rock station because of his passion for that music genre and also because there weren’t any other stations like it in the area.

“There was when we started just Q95 (in Indianapolis) and stations from Louisville,” he said. “There really wasn’t a rock station in between, so we figured it would be a perfect format. Plenty of country stations around and oldies, but there really wasn’t a rock station around.”

Through the music and news on the radio, Cool Bus appearances, Bustock summer concert series and Summer of Fun prize program, 96.3 has always been about entertaining and informing the community, Becker said.

“Fun, informative and we play a lot of great music for you,” he said. “Hopefully, all of that kind of brings the community together. That has been our goal.”

In making the decision to retire, Becker said he realized it was time.

“I’m not as young as I used to be and have no idea what I’m going to do the rest of my life, but I figured it was getting to be time to kind of move on,” he said. “If I’m going to have another chapter, I didn’t want to be 90 when I try to write that last chapter, so I figured write the last chapter while I have a little gas left in the tank.”

A few months ago, Schepman was at the radio station when Becker mentioned retirement, and he thought she might be interested in buying the station. She initially thought he was joking, but then she realized he was serious.

She has voiced and written radio spots for 96.3 during her time with Seymour Main Street and also while working for Covered Bridge Health Campus and Snap Fitness, so she has remained involved with radio.

“It seems like I’ve always tried to keep my toe in radio,” Schepman said. “I’ve always been dabbling in it a little here and there.”

After discussing purchasing 96.3 with her husband, Brent, Schepman accepted Becker’s offer.

Now, they are working on the purchase agreement and going through the process with the Federal Communications Commission to transfer the radio license.

The FCC requires stations to renew their license every eight years, and Becker’s offer happened to come on the eighth year. Once he gets the renewal back, the Schepmans will apply for the transfer.

Becky’s last day with Seymour Main Street is May 1 and first day with 96.3 is May 4. She will handle the morning show, take over some sales accounts and do the marketing, while Brent will help behind the scenes and continue to operate his own business, MC Aquatics, and do steel brokering.

“I think her and Brent are just going to be great,” Becker said. “All of the connections are great. I think it’s the perfect fit. Some younger people, some fresh ideas about radio and incorporating social media and all of these different things, I think it will be great.”

Looking back on her three years with Seymour Main Street, Becky describes it as life-changing. She said when she applied for the job, she thought it was a long shot because she had a background in radio and had stayed home with her kids for 12 years.

“I really appreciated them taking a chance on me, and it has been a learning experience, but it has been a great experience,” Becky said. “I have loved getting to see people come in and have a dream, like, ‘Hey, I want to open this store’ and seeing that from start to finish and then see them living their dream owning a small business downtown.”

During her tenure, businesses have grown and become established, a downtown park was created and another one is currently being redone and events have drawn people to the downtown.

She is the only full-time employee, but more than 50 volunteers have devoted their time and effort to the organization.

“That has been really cool to see how supportive our community is,” Becky said.

She hopes the next executive director will have the same passion she does for the downtown.

“I truly do care about the downtown business owners,” she said. “I think the big thing is to look at the big picture and realize what we’re all shooting for. We’re all shooting to make the downtown a part of our community, and we all want that same goal.”

She said collaboration has been key to Seymour Main Street’s success, and she wants that to continue.

“It’s just all about collaboration and seeing the big picture,” Becky said.

Brandon Hunsley, president of the Seymour Main Street board, said he will continue to work with Becky until the end of the month when she transitions out. Then the executive committee will begin the process of filling the vacancy.

With the ongoing coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic putting things on hold, Hunsley said they aren’t in a rush to hire an executive director because they want to find the right person for the job.

“I think Becky has significantly raised the profile of that position, so I’m hopeful we’ll get a lot of good, qualified candidates seeking that role,” he said. “I hate to see her go. She has done a fantastic job for Main Street and put us in a really good spot long term. She has laid the groundwork, so I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for the next executive director to pick up the baton and run with it.”