By Bill Carpenter
Chandler’s radio career began in 1979 when he was an engineering student at Florida State University, where he also had his own WFSU TV show “Black Expressions.” At the time, NASA was under fire to employ more Black engineers and went to FSU in pursuit of gifted students with strong math or science skills.
“I always loved math and science,” the radio great says.
After his morning college classes, he spent his afternoons getting his NASA training and finished his evenings by buying airtime and hosting a 7-9 PM. R&B radio show on KRT 1350 AM, a country station, in Coco Beach. “We were playing Barry White and Al Green," he laughs. “I know it made those country music lovers throw up.”
Chandler stayed with NASA until the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986 when the agency laid off 1,100 employees after the disaster. He moved to Jacksonville where he worked the 3-7 PM drive at WPDQ (an R&B station) and then walked across the street each night and did the 11 o’clock news at the ABC TV affiliate. One day the owner of WPDQ, Bishop Levi E. Willis, came to check on the station and encountered Chandler.
“He had a vision of developing a national gospel radio network,” Chandler remembers. “When he learned that I had engineering experience he asked if I could help him build his network; so he moved me to Norfolk. When I got there he had eight stations, and when I left in 1996, he had 72.” Chandler then made a ransom of money in the cell phone industry before buying Rejoice Musical Soulfood from ABC Radio Networks in 2006. Now, the network is 38 stations strong and one of the major power players in the gospel world.