Gregory Davis leads WRR to become a Dallas classic.
It’s all come together for Gregory Davis: a love for public television, cultural radio, classical music and a great city with abundant cultural excitement. As General Manager of WRR Radio Classical 101.1 FM, he harmonizes the best of these worlds with the newest technological and audience-pleasing innovations to create a masterpiece revered the world over.
“Great communities are defined by their culture,” says Mr. Davis. “And Dallas is a great city that’s coming into its own, culture-wise. It deserves a radio station that works extremely hard to promote the arts, from live broadcasts of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to student musician competitions.” While WRR has been around since way back in 1912—it was Dallas’ first radio station— in recent years, Davis’ quiet fire has ignited the station into a powerhouse of classical music that has won scores of awards and fans.
Schooled in music and management.
A Denison, Texas native, Gregory Davis was perhaps pre-destined for the civic and cultural airwaves. “My father owned a radio and television repair shop,” he recalls. “Crystal sets, Philco radios…people would bring them in and dad magically restored the voices and the visuals. Even back in the early 1960’s, I was a loyal WRR listener. You could hear broadcasts of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra loud and clear in Denison, and I thought classical music was the coolest thing ever.”
During the time Mr. Davis was a student at McDaniel Junior High, President Lyndon Johnson set aside portions of the airwaves for public television channels. McDaniel was chosen to be the Denison area recipient of the local channel and housed its facilities. Lucky for Gregory, an educational TV course was offered to students and he jumped right in. “I learned how to write a script, run a camera, you name it.” Also he happened to be in the band, playing tenor sax. “For my class project, I wanted to put my band mates on TV. So I worked our quartets and ensembles into our broadcasts and everyone was excited to be local celebrities.”
Mr. Davis continued to pursue a musical career in high school, serving as band president. “Music was certainly my passion. I also took private lessons at nearby North Texas State University in Denton (now UNT).” Davis figured that though he wanted to pursue a future in music, he might need a steadier career to fall back on. So he majored in Electrical Engineering at Texas Tech (although he ended up graduating with a degree in Advertising and Marketing).
Making news himself.
A part-time job at KLDK, the local CBS affiliate in Lubbock, saw Davis rise from cameraman to Technical News Director for the evening newscasts. “Here was a chance to produce commercials, direct the news and all cameramen. I was thrilled.”
After college, Davis worked in Dallas at fledgling Warner Amex Cable, the first cable franchise for the City of Dallas. “We produced programs about the community for cable TV at several broadcast facilities, Lincoln High School and Richland College, and helped train nonprofits like the Dallas Independent School District to produce their own shows.
After additional production jobs with the City of Dallas Public Affairs Department, Davis helped create the Film Liaison Office for the City, which awarded permits for films and ads that shot in Dallas. “We were very successful in taking advantage of the then-popular Dallas television show.”
The place where he belonged.
In 1993, Gregory Davis’ dream job finally came along. “All the elements and experience I wanted—from creating advertising to driving the direction of the station’s music—were here,” he states. “I’d also been involved with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, as well as local theatre, so it was exactly my cup of tea.”
In his position, Davis is largely responsible for the look and feel of WRR, a station that now has listeners as far away as Japan and Korea thanks to the internet. “Our station is, in a sense, an international audio ambassador that promotes the image of Dallas as a cultural leader.” Davis also oversees long-range planning for the station and production of locally-based programming for music, dance, theatre and museum entities.
Bringing the Classics into tomorrow.
One of Davis’ main goals in the not-too-distant future is to renovate WRR’s Fair Park facilities, which have stood relatively unchanged since the 1930s and the Texas Centennial era. “WRR is synonymous with Fair Park and South Dallas. It’s the only entity in Fair Park that reaches around the globe every day. We would like to better incorporate the very latest technologies into the framework of the most modern facilities possible. This will enhance the quality of our broadcasts.”
Gregory Davis helped spearhead high definition radio technology installation for the station. “As more people buy HD radios, they will be able to experience the full effect of HD,” he believes. “You can now look at your radio and see the title of the song that’s playing. What’s more, you can read the score and lyrics as the song plays!
“We’re also excited about our rapidly-increasing number of live broadcasts from around the area, such as direct from the Meyerson Center and Dallas Museum of Art. This has only recently been possible because the technology of the venues has become more sophisticated.” Listeners also now have the capability to go on the WRR: Classical 101 website and purchase a CD of the piece(s) they’ve heard played on the station. Podcasts are likewise available for replay.
Relaxed attitude, renewed faith in a great station.
Gregory Davis is quick to pick up an ol’ fishing pole or backpack when the urge to get away hits. “I love the outdoors,” he enthuses. “An escape to unspoiled country like Colorado is terrific therapy.” He’s also quite an opera aficionado and raves about Wagner’s Die Meistersinger which he caught in New York City…all six hours of it! At home, there’s always classical music or gospel playing in the background, just as it has all of Davis’ life.
“I am so blessed to be working with such a gifted staff,” notes Mr. Davis. “Every one of them has the sense that each day, he or she is truly making a difference. And they certainly are.”
If WRR has a unique spirit, it is driven by Gregory Davis’ heart and soul. This is a man who knows that wishes do come true.
For more information on WRR, visit WRR: Classical 101 website.