Dr. MarkAlain Dery,. founder of WHIV-FM 102.3

New Kid on The Radio: WHIV-FM 102.3

When I first heard it, the name kind of threw me off: a musician was in the OffBeat office recently and told me he had a show on a local radio station, WHIV-FM (102.3).

A radio station named after HIV?

The reference to HIV kind of took me aback, but when I asked him about the format of the station, he told me it was a community station whose music programming was sort of a hybrid between WWOZ and WTUL, which sounded pretty interesting to me. The station’s call letters were the brainchild of the owner of the station, Dr. MarkAlain Dery, who’s an assistant professor of medicine at Tulane’s Section of Adult Infectious Diseases; he’s a physician who specializes in public health, specifically in education and treatment of AIDS.

By giving the station the call letters, he says he’s trying to de-stigmatize the perception of “HIV.”

When you think of it that way, and you say the station’s name a few times, you tend to forget about any medical reference. To make perception of the station’s motives even more meaningful, the station’s call letters are sort of an acrostic for the phrase “We Honor Independent Voices.” And then there’s the slogan: “End All Wars,” and the programming dedicated to human rights and social justice.

According to their website, “WHIV is the New Orleans Society for Infectious Disease Awareness (NOSIDA)’s  commercial-free, low-watt radio station serving New Orleans and the surrounding areas with radical ideas and local music.” It’s also streamed online.

We reported a couple of years ago that Dery had created the station, but it’s kicking into high gear now and is drastically expanding music programming and commitment to the community. Indeed, WHIV has picked up many refugees from WWOZ, most recently the well-respected music documentarian George Ingmire.

Maggie Doussan, ‘HIV’s General Manager, is beefing up local music, local shows and creating membership and sponsorship opportunities, in a partnership with OffBeat.

Over the years, OffBeat has consistently tried to work with WWOZ’s station management in cooperative efforts, including trade situations to promote each other’s media. We did work together for many years. But in the past year, it’s been difficult or impossible to get a response from current staff members—ever since we published information about the personnel turnover at the station. It’s interesting—and rather sad—that many people assume that OffBeat and WWOZ are one and the same (just different types of media), but unfortunately that’s not the case. We’ve got the same community objectives (we are both supposed to be “Guardians of the Groove”!), but working together for the common good seems to have flown the coop. Needless to say, OffBeat has consistently supported WWOZ over the years, and we’ll continue to do so, if they allow us to.

We are very pleased that OffBeat will be able to help to expand the “new kid” WHIV’s listenership and to get the word out to our readers, especially since the “radical ideas” that WHIV espouses are very similar to our own, and we think, to most of our readers. And they support local music and musicians!

You can learn more about WHIV, and look for them at the upcoming Best of The Beat Awards where they’ll not only have a table, but will also be broadcasting the event live from both stages live.

And remember, we should all be in this together!

Did you know that Louisiana has the second-highest new-infection rate of HIV in the US because of poverty, stigma, a large incarcerated population and abstinence-only sex ed?

Going into this new year, how’s your personal knowledge of HIV? Take our poll for a chance to win tickets to the Third Annual Bal Masque featuring Benni, Gnaw, and King James & the Special Men at the Civic Theatre.

  • Cornman Slickum