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Tara Servatius is Using the 98.9 WORD Text Line to Her Advantage

Born free and determined to keep it that way, 98.9 WORD morning host Tara Servatius has a unique way of connecting with listeners.

“We have a text line here … We realized a number of years ago we could reverse it and we could text them and we could use keywords, we could send links, we could do things like that,” Servatius told Barrett News Media over a Zoom call.

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The jump to radio was unexpected for the former investigative journalist. “I just ended up being invited on talk radio by the local talk radio station [in Charlotte], the local news talker, to do interviews about stories I was doing.”

She “hit it off” with some of the hosts and filled in before getting her own show. Her journalism skills have come in handy on the show because Tara Servatius wants to ensure her listeners are informed.

“We go really deep into issues on this show and I think it just makes a huge amount of difference. I just come from that news background of facts, facts, facts. So I kind of almost combine breaking news on the show with analysis, with also kind of the traditional talk format. So it’s sort of a cross between a talk show and a news.”

With the interactivity of texting her listeners (who have named themselves “Tara-ists”) Servatius’ following is more like a community forum. “This is a very red area. People are scared. They feel like if Joe Biden is President for another four years, financially they’re not going to make it. They feel like no one hears them and this is why this could be such a golden age for talk radio. People want to be heard.”

Connecting with her listeners by text, Servatius has helped them get their voices heard.

“When the big road tax came up here, it was the huge issue for many years. The roads were in terrible shape but the politicians had frittered away the money. Then they wanted more money. People were really mad.”

By reversing the text line, her team would send listeners a link to figure out who their local legislative member was. “We mobbed the legislature with our phone calls, and we stopped the gas tax. We stopped the gas tax a second time as well.”

By reversing the text line, Tara Servatius had helped take her station to the next level. “We’ve expanded our signal, but we could take this then little radio station and really turn it into this beacon of hope. We could take action and people really got into it.”

Today, Servatius believes the text line is the best way to not just connect with listeners but also grow a station, and let American’s voices be heard.

“This is an activist audience that’s really used to picking up the phone, calling their legislators, referencing what gets said on the show. Because of that, we have a lot of legislators that listen and they call in, but we’re using it in a way that I haven’t seen anybody else use it in the country.”

The 2x South Carolina Radio Personality of the Year stressed how helpful texting with listeners has helped her station, 98.9 WORD, grow.

“Using this formula when I got here, we had just switched over from an AM station to an FM station, 106.3, and nobody was sure if this was going to work, and it was kind of an experiment.”

With talent like Tara Servatius and texting capabilities, what was once an underdog station is now the top dog in the market.

“We’re at, really, a disadvantage, but using this community formula in the way that we built the show, we’ve had so much success. We beat the 100,000-watt station and more than doubled their rating. Eventually [our competitor] station went out of business. So now we are the station, ironically heard in half of South Carolina and half of North Carolina. And we’re the top billing station in this market now.

“Another thing people should consider with the text line is that it’s very easy to have somebody call in, and if you don’t get a good caller, then you’ve blown the segment and you’ve lost half your audience. If you have a text line, you can rapid-fire,” she continued. “And I do it all the time. Through a segment, I’ll get ten comments into a segment and four of them will be really good and two of them will be something I didn’t even think of that spurs other people to text in.”

For those looking to follow in Tara Servatius’ footsteps, she said, “I would build a footprint online and on the air so that you are in as and on as many platforms as possible. We’ve dramatically expanded the audience since we’ve done that.” She later added, “I’d advise them to learn both sides of radio, both production and being on the air. That’s a good way to break in is to learn how to produce your show. There’s a tremendous need for producers in this industry.”

Looking to the future, Tara Servatius has a few ideas in mind. “I want to go bigger. I very much am trying to build my online presence right now. I’d love to be syndicated. I’d love to try to duplicate the success that we’ve had. I mean, we’ve had killer success in this market at a time when I think a lot of other stations are just trying to find the formula. I feel like we got it.

“Instead of just complaining, like a lot of talk radio, we’ve taken action and learned that we can do it and we have this powerful tool. Now we’re at the point where if an issue comes up in our state or even our city, [listeners will ask], are you going to do a text campaign? Are you going to tell us how to call our legislators, our city council members there? Because they’re used to it. So that’s been a really neat part, of digitization and modernization and just being an activist audience.”

Krystina Alarcon Carroll
Krystina Alarcon Carroll
Krystina Alarcon Carroll is a news media columnist and features writer for Barrett Media. She currently freelances at WPIX in New York, and has previously worked on live, streamed, and syndicated TV programs. Her prior employers have included NY1, Fox News Digital, Law & Crime Network, and Newsmax. You can find Krystina on X (formerly twitter) @KrystinaAlaCarr.


  1. Wish Trump would of responded that Biden stopped DNA test on children and being given to whomever.

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