WHUR 96.3FM GM Announces Retirement

Longest Serving General Manager of Heritage Radio Station Says Goodbye

Jim-Watkins-headshotMillard James Watkins, III, General Manager of WHUR 96.3 FM announced today he would retire as GM effective August 31, 2018 and plans to concentrate his efforts on running his own telecommunications company Windy Oak Communications, LLC.

Watkins, known to his colleagues and friends as Jim, has been at the helm of the heritage station for over three decades powering WHUR from a stand-alone station to a powerhouse network of six stations forming the Howard University Radio Network.  Under his leadership, WHUR has enjoyed ratings and revenue success surpassing many of its competitors.  The Washington Post sold the radio station to Howard University in 1971 for a mere $1.00.  Watkins has pushed the station’s annual revenue above $12,000,000.00. “My decision to retire from Howard University has not been easy.  It has been an honor and a pleasure to work for such a stellar employer for over half my lifetime.  But now is the time for me to seek new challenges and opportunities,” said Watkins.

Watkins has been one of the longest running general manager’s in the country and has been an innovator helping to make WHUR one of the most recognized and respected radio stations in the country. Known around the globe as the home of the “Original Quiet Storm,” WHUR has amassed numerous awards under Watkins’ tenure.  The station has received four National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Crystal Awards, two NAB Marconi Best Urban Station Awards, two Stellar Awards, and countless community service awards issued by non-profit organizations. The radio station has raised millions of dollars to help those in need with school supply, food, coat, and toy drives. With Watkins at the helm, WHUR raised over $600,000 to build a 55-bed shelter for domestic violence victims in Prince George’s County, sent thousands of Howard students around the globe to volunteer during their Alternative Spring Break, and hosted dozens of town hall meetings, workshops and fairs to address critical issues impacting the Washington community.  “It truly has been a labor of love to know that WHUR has been on the forefront of addressing so many concerns of our listeners both here in the DMV and abroad,” added Watkins.

Always looking to be at the cutting edge of broadcasting excellence, Watkins ushered WHUR as the first station in the Washington market to go HD, the first Black-owned radio station to have a NASCAR vehicle and driver, and the first college-owned station to have a Sirius XM Channel.  His keen sense of programming helped to popularize urban syndicated radio with a local twist bringing such shows as the Steve Harvey Morning Show and the Michael Baisden Show to the Washington market.

Watkins began his broadcast career at the tender age of 14 and was able to achieve many of his childhood dreams over the years.  In high school, he helped to build a radio and television broadcast facility and worked as an announcer for his hometown radio station WENZ.  At the age of 19, Watkins became one of the youngest chief engineers in the nation after earning his engineering degree from Grantham School of Engineering.  Watkins was the first African American engineer at the Washington News Bureau at ABC News in the District.

Watkins’ broadcasting career flourished while at Howard University.   He helped to construct WHUT-TV, formerly known as the WHMM Channel.  From 1980 to 1984, Watkins served as the director of operations and engineering for WHMM-TV.  He later went on to become the television station’s general manager for several years while simultaneously holding down the top job at WHUR.

Recognized and well respected around the country for his vision and broadcasting intellect, Watkins is a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the Audio Engineering Society, and Treasurer of the Washington Area Broadcasters Association (WABA).  He was a recipient of the Board of Governors Award of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Washington, DC Chapter.  Watkins is currently a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Board.

Watkins attributes his success to the brilliant team of students and the talented team of professionals he has worked with over the years at both the television and radio station. “As for the backbone of my life and success, I have to give credit to my supportive wife of 35 years, Regina Phyllis Alexander Watkins and my 30-year-old son Millard James Watkins, IV,” added Watkins.