There’s something special about radio for Sam Tate, host and creator of the radio show Gospel Gems and creator of The Young World Radio Show. Tate, who has been involved with radio broadcasting for more than 40 years.
“Gospel Gems is America’s very first oldie-goldie black gospel radio show.”
Tate found that you can’t go wrong with oldies, and people who tune in to his show hear Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, Sam Cooke and the Soul Starers and Frank Williams among the featured artists. Many of them were contemporaries of Tate’s and he knew a number of them personally. Yet Gospel Gems is more than just a showcase for great black recording artists.
“When I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start Gospel Gems,” recalled Tate, “the message was, ‘Son, I want you to do more than just a record show.’ My wife does the Signs of the Time and since there are only a few times you get the sinner into church, this is a golden opportunity to get them saved. Several stations play the show a few times per week. One thing I found with Gospel Gems is that it fills a gap for older listeners since most stations play older contemporary music. Gospel Gems fills that void. It has a Motown/beach flavor and enjoys a tremendous crossover appeal
Though Tate’s first love is broadcasting, he worked in the world of commercial flying and holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a certified flight instructor and is instrument and multi-engine rated.
“My mother told people when ‘Sam’s not on the air, he’s in the air,’” said Tate. “When you are a pilot, you are one of a chosen few. It looks good on a job application; broadcasting and flying gave me a competitive edge. Between flying and radio, it’s been exciting—a natural high. And the people you meet. I used to drive Otis Redding around, and James Brown used to let me get on his Lear jet. So many of the artists I knew personally just because when they came to town they wanted to go to the radio station first thing.”
Another career highlight for Tate was when the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, founder of the Church of God Mission International, invited him to Nigeria as a broadcast consultant. Idahosa often drew more than one million people to a single church service.
“I met the bishop in Charlotte,” said Tate, “and he told me about the frequencies. He wanted me to pray about it and then come to the Motherland. It was the first time anything had been done like this in the history of the Nigerian government. I stayed in his six million dollar palace. When we came through customs at the airport, people were kneeling down.”
From humble roots growing up on the farm singing into a stick and idolizing radio man John R., a white host for the black rhythm and blues sound of WLAC, to broadcasting and flying as an adult, Tate has no intention of slowing down.
Tate extends an open invitation to the public to listen to his radio shows.
“Our motto is, Gospel Gems, where every program is a collector’s item,” said Tate.
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