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Internet radio show aims to boost businesses on Lake Lanier

POSTED: August 1, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Chuck and Mary Thompson have started an Internet radio program that features stories about lake life.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — A Flowery Branch couple had enough of constant news stories about the drought, dropping lake levels and a poor national economy.

Without a background in broadcasting or journalism, real estate appraisers Mary and Chuck Thompson started the Internet-based Lakefront Radio Show to broadcast stories that generate excitement about the lake.

And, according to the couple, they also wanted to "help businesses that are suffering due to the drought and the declining real estate market."

They are producing the show, which airs at noon each Friday on www.lakefrontradio.com, from an Atlanta studio. The stories are archived on their Web site for those who can’t catch the live broadcasts.

"Every time you turned around, you’re hearing all this negative press on how terrible it is — and it is true we’re going through a major drought," said Mary Thompson. "We thought we can just sit here and take it, or we can try to do something about it."

Through a friend, they met Lee Kantor, who has worked with them in producing the radio show at WGSR-AM in Atlanta.

"We thought we could make it all positive; let’s bring in Lake Lanier businesses; make (the show) educational; make it a business-building type of a deal," she said.

They have interviewed officials with Lake Lanier Islands, JOA Marine, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Natural Resources, among others.

"We just thought (the show) would be fun. We’d meet a lot of neat people, (and) we would try and help them out with their business," Mary Thompson said.

The Thompsons later began to expand their show to feature more national guests. The couple operates a national directory of lakefront businesses, including Realtors and retailers, at lakefrontpros.com.

Some of their guests lead exotic or adventurous lives.

They’ve interviewed Patric Douglas, who takes tourists diving for sharks off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

The Thompsons talked with Todd Monahan, a hot-air balloon pilot who specializes in flying his craft over water.

"The whole idea (behind the show) is it’s a business that revolves around the water," Mary Thompson said.

The show "has given us the opportunity to interview some people that there’s no way that we would have been able to ever connect up with," she added.

The couple was able to adjust to a potentially nerve-jangling first experience in front of the microphone.

"Mary was a natural at it right out of the gate," Chuck Thompson said.

"Well, I’m such a talker," she said.

"I was sitting there with bated breath just waiting to ask a question," he continued. "And she wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise."

"I didn’t want any dead space — can’t have any dead space on the radio," she countered.

The couple is not exactly sure where the program is headed, although national syndication would be a nice goal.

"It’s become so much fun now that it would be nice if we could just do real good at (securing) sponsorships so that we could do this on a permanent basis," Chuck Thompson said.

"Yeah, we’d love that," she added.



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