“Stop the Violence/Increase the Peace” is the heartfelt mission of Power 99FM WUSL, lasting for more than 10 years. The station’s commitment was inspired by the high-profile murder of five-year-old Marcus Yates in 1998, who was tragically killed in the crossfire of a drug-related shootout. In fact, public safety has consistently ranked as Power 99 FM listeners’ #1 concern, as revealed by the station’s quarterly survey of top community issues.
Power 99 FM has received local and national recognition for its anti-violence campaign. Honors include an unprecedented three National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Awards for Community Service for the station’s innovative approach to the issue. In June of 1998, Power 99 FM raised $3,000 in three hours for the family of the racially motivated Texas dragging murder victim. Power 99 FM air personality, Dave Sanborn, traveled to Jasper, Texas, to deliver the money raised by the station and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, which totaled nearly $10,000.
In 1999, Power 99 FM gave $12,000 for its “Stop the Violence Increase the Peace” Scholarship. The scholarship awards twelve 11th graders a thousand dollars each for outstanding essays on violence prevention. All of the 36 recipients awarded the scholarship during the past three years are currently attending college. During that year, Power 99 FM donated $2.2 million in airtime to public service announcements, special anti-violence messages, and live broadcasts. Power 99 FM air personalities also made more than 250 public appearances for a wide range of anti-violence and youth organizations.
Power 99 FM extends its anti-violence campaign to prevention through education with its Powerhouse Computer Interactive Program. The station completely funded the $100,000 pilot program for implementation in three middle schools, which uses state of the art computers and educational software to assist academically at-risk youth. The program incorporates a mentoring program, which involves every member of the radio station, from secretary to General Manager. The Philadelphia School District posted 100 percent attendance among the participants and initial assessment indicates that students achieved significant measurable increases in grade point averages.
According to Philadelphia School Superintendent, David Hornbeck, “the Powerhouse Computer Learning Center program is a wonderful example of the type of program that will prepare students to function in an increasingly technical society. Power 99 FM has shown its commitment to this city’s young people by sponsoring a program that will make a real difference in their lives.”
In November 1999, Power 99 FM set aside four hours during the station’s highest rated program for an extraordinary broadcast called “Power Moves for a Safer Community.” The station brought in Philadelphia’s top law enforcement and prevention experts to talk about ways listeners can increase the peace in their neighborhoods. In addition, the station’s staff stayed after hours to help field the overwhelming number of listener phone calls directed to an onsite team of 20 members of Philadelphia’s Narcotics Task Force, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, ATF agents, and members of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network.
For the final hour of the program, in what is highly unusual for a popular music station, Power 99 FM stopped the music entirely and went all talk with a town meeting between the experts and listeners. Meanwhile, the team of law enforcement officers cited more than 100 reports of illegal gun and drug activity and is currently investigating them with the goal of making arrests.