For the love of music: The Penguin celebrates 12 years on the air with concerts

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98.3 FM The Penguin  hosts Kim Czornij and Beau Gunn celebrate the music they love at a recent live concert. The station is celebrating 12 years on the air, a feat Gunn contributes to a shared love of music among listeners, deejays and performers alike. Courtesy photos.
98.3 FM The Penguin hosts Kim Czornij and Beau Gunn celebrate the music they love at a recent live concert. The station is celebrating 12 years on the air, a feat Gunn contributes to a shared love of music among listeners, deejays and performers alike. Courtesy photos.

With the blaring of horns over the airwaves on midnight over a decade ago, a local musical revolution was born.

Those horns, and that song–Rufus Thomas’ “Do The Funky Penguin”–signaled the birth of WUIN–98.3 FM The Penguin.

The Wilmington radio station, which is owned by Port City Daily’s parent company Hometown Wilmington Media, turns 12 today and, continuing its month-long birthday bash, will celebrate in fitting fashion with a host of upcoming live shows.

Hometown Wilmington Media General Manager and Penguin on-air afternoon host Beau Gunn credits a heartfelt love of music–for the station’s longevity.

But in that one simple feeling is a host of players who, coming together, make the Penguin a success here at home and across the world through its streaming service.

“This is a very tremendous milestone,” Gunn said. “I really think it has to do with the community that supports it and tunes in every day and supports our sponsors. It has to do with the artists we play and their commitment to the craft…We don’t put a lot of artists on there that are going to be one-hit wonders. These artists become a part of the fabric of the radio station, and the audience gets to learn and grow their depth of music appreciation along with these artists.”

It doesn’t hurt that the people behind the mic started out as fans.

“People thought I worked there long before I really did because I was always asking them, ‘Have you heard the Penguin? Have you heard the Penguin?’” said morning host Kim Czornij, who joined the station seven years ago, in an earlier interview.

While Czornij and Gunn have remained fixtures of the Penguin, the station has brought in some new music lovers over the last couple years, as well. Eric Miller of the popular Wilmington-based band L Shape Lot has signed on as a midday host.

Local musician Eric Miller of L Shape Lot joined on as a Penguin host this year, further connecting the music to the community.
Local musician Eric Miller of L Shape Lot joined on as a Penguin host this year, further connecting the music to the community.

“The opportunity to bring Eric Miller on this year is such a blessing for the Penguin. He is such a well respected talent in the community. It means the world to have someone of that profile and passion come on board because it’s evident his philosopy and viewpoint on music is completely in line with the Penguin’s philosophy and viewpoint on music,” Gunn said.

With the addition of another talent–former Penguin host Michelle Daniel, who has returned to the airwaves for a weekly show on Saturdays–and the creation of the Epic all-request lunch hour, as well as an increase in the number of concerts coming through town and the launch of a Listener Advisory Board, Gunn believes the Penguin is here to stay for many years to come.

“But 100 percent, without a doubt, we wouldn’t be here without the listeners who believe in what we believe in,” he said.

To show thanks, the Penguin has more concerts in store for the coming weeks.

“We’ve had the whole month of August stocked. We just wanted to blow it out in honor of our birthday,” Gunn said. “August is a special month for us.”

Coming up on the schedule are Hard Working Americans, with Turbo Fruits, tomorrow (Wednesday); Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers, with Dumpstaphunk, on Friday; Donavon Frankenreiter, with Cody Simpson, on Saturday; and John Hiatt & The Combo and Taj Mahal Trio on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

All shows will be held at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. For details and ticket information, visit the Concerts tab on Port City Daily’s home page.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.