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Sioux City deacon runs gospel radio station from his home

January 13, 2019

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Many people maintain a workshop or a man cave in the lower level of their homes.

James Rainey, however, keeps state-of-the-art recording equipment in the basement of his northside Sioux City home.

That’s where Rainey, a Woodhouse Auto Dealership car salesman, is able to stream gospel music, 24 hours a day, from an online radio station.

“Music promoters and managers are always sending me music,” he said as an energetic mix of contemporary gospel played in the background. “So far, I have access to more than 40,000 pieces of music.”

Rainey has been the president, CEO, music director and sole on-air talent for GITA Radio (www.gitaradio.com) since 2011.

“My mother (Rosamary Ponds) actually came up with the name for the station,” Rainey told the Sioux City Journal . “She thought ‘Gospel In The Air’ — or ‘GITA’ for short — had a nice ring to it and she was right.”

Rainey, a native of Rockford, Illinois, credited his mom for inspiring a love of gospel music.

“When I was a little kid, my mom would leave the house to go to the store,” he said. “As soon as she got to the door, mom would say ‘stay away from my records.’”

Did Rainey listen to his mother? Not really.

Instead, he’d make a beeline straight for her beloved collection of old school, new school and traditional southern gospel LPs that he’d play on the stereo.

It was this early exposure that led Rainey to learn how to play classical piano as well as bass guitar.

“My life has always been centered around the church,” he said. “Gospel music was a big part of that experience.”

Indeed, Rainey’s been sharing a ministry of music since he was a teenager.

“Years ago, I used to lug around turntables, vinyl LPs and tapes whenever I booked a DJ-ing gig,” he said. “Nowadays, everything is compact, computerized and accessible. I love it.”

In a roundabout way, Rainey’s experience as a DJ-for-hire led to the formation of GITA Radio.

A Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church bass player and deacon, he would often download music for the church’s Consecrated Mass Choir.

“If somebody wanted a certain song, they’d ask me for it,” Rainey explained.

What was initially a service for hundreds of Mount Zion parishioners has steadily grown to thousands of GITA Radio online listeners.

“We have as many as 8,000 listeners on any given day,” Rainey said. “We’ve had audiences all the way from Europe, listening to our mixes.”

He acknowledged that it feels good to provide a message people want to hear.

On GITA Radio, Rainey plays selections from such gospel luminaries as Kirk Franklin, Ann Nesby and Lemmie Battles to artists like the Omaha-based The Chosen Few, who are just now making their musical mark.

“I play the legends but I also play the ‘indies’ — those musicians who deserved to be heard,” he said. “That’s the fun part. Sharing the message, sharing the music.”

Plus Rainey said he’s just getting started.

“In addition to my gospel station, I’ve also begun a station devoted strictly to jazz,” he said. “I may end up stations devoted to all genres of music.”

If that’s the case, won’t Rainey need a bigger basement?

“Shucks, I think I have all of the space that I need,” he said with a smile.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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