Back on air: Smiths return home to radio station in Ferriday
Published 11:25 pm Saturday, June 24, 2017
by DAVID HAMILTON
NATCHEZ — Neither Desiree nor Mike Smith are from the Miss-Lou, but the two managers of KFNV-FM radio station in Ferriday affectionately call the region “home.”
After a six-year departure the duo is back on the airwaves, and the couple say they are thrilled to be serving the community once again.
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“It took us leaving here to realize it was (home),” Desiree said. “Home has always been us together, but our roots were here.”
The couple moved to Natchez approximately 20 years ago and soon after began managing KFNV and its sister station, KWTG in Vidalia. Before the Smiths left, KFNV earned three “Small Market Radio Station of the Year” awards — in 2004, 2008 and 2009 — from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters.
The pair moved to Brookhaven for three years after the passing of Mike’s father. Then the couple moved to Arkansas, Desiree’s home state.
Although the couple said they enjoyed living in Arkansas, their eyes were opened one weekend when they returned to the Miss-Lou region for a visit.
“We came back here and we said, ‘Oh my God. This is where we’re supposed to be’,” Desiree said. “I mean, it was just clear as day we were supposed to be here.”
Despite missing the community, the pair agrees some positives resulted from their six-year retreat.
“We came back with a different perspective,” Mike said.
They also decided to rebrand, changing the station’s moniker “The River,” which they coined years ago.
“Even though we created it and started it and it was our baby, it was time for a change,” Desiree said. “We decided The Bridge would be a good name because … our goal and our work is to connect the Miss-Lou and the people in it — the events on both sides of the river.”
One of the first steps to doing that was creating a show for early risers and morning commuters.
“When we came back, we knew a morning show was something that we had to do,” Desiree said. “The community needed it.”
The Smiths dedicate a portion of their morning show, The Breakfast Bunch, to highlighting local artists in the community. That is one of the reasons KFNV brought musician Brandon McCranie on board.
McCranie, a Natchez resident, surprised Desiree with a phone call one day.
“I had heard of Brandon (McCranie); when he was in Brookhaven, he had been there and played (music),” Desiree said.
“I knew that he played music, but that’s all I knew about him. But as soon as he walked in the door I said, ‘oh, dude, you’ve got to come join the morning group.”
Mike Thomas, also a member of the Breakfast Bunch, helps produce the show. He runs the mixing board, but also chimes in with music-related anecdotes or expertise.
In addition to local artists, the show prides itself on reeling in relevant guests in the Miss-Lou., the Smiths said.
Those guests run the gamut.
“The other morning, we had the mayor, a rodeo clown and the sheriff all on in one day,” Desiree said. “It was crazy.”
“It certainly never gets boring,” Mike said.
Both Desiree and Mike said they have experienced a heart-warming reception from local residents since their return to Ferriday.
“People have been very kind,” Mike said. “They didn’t forget us.”
Desiree spoke emotionally about the reception from locals, comparing it to being wrapped in “a warm blanket.”
“It’s been like going to your mom’s house or your grandmother’s house,” Desiree said. “It’s like we never left.
“People have reached out and welcomed us with open arms, far beyond what we ever expected.”