On the water for local businesses

Jul. 11—NIAGARA FALLS — Frank Handley Jr. saw a major need not just in radio, but in how businesses market themselves.

Thanks to Handley, the former Ace Hobby Shop at 3019 Niagara St. now houses Fire 716 Radio and DChannel photography studio. Both ventures aim to produce online radio shows and help businesses.

Handley said he hoped the radio station would provide a focus on community matters.

“The goal is to be an active resource for the community,” Handley said.

Handley and DChannel owner Diajah Green first met through a business class at the Ibero Business Center of Western New York. Handley was already involved in radio and Green had another business she was working on.

Handley started out in radio in 2013, going to school for communications at Erie Community College and interning at WUFO in downtown Buffalo. His love of radio was cemented while worked under Sheila Brown for seven years.

After starting at 545 Main St. in 2020, Fire 716 and DChannel both moved to Niagara Street in February because they said the previous space was too small.

“God graced us with the finances to do so,” Handley said, acknowledging they would move to another location in the future.

Some of Fire 716’s shows include Fatima Fridays with Faitma Mathews, founder of Strong Heart 2 Soul, Big Frank in the Morning, Inject Faith, Hope & Love with Kiera Agee, Pop the Bubble, The Queen I Am with Felicia Gaddis, The Vault with Donta Myles, and DMP Speaks with David Pinkston among others.

Green was not interested in being a photographer, despite attending Full Sail University for digital art and design and Kent State for photo illustration. It was after meeting Handley and Mathews and Ibero Business Center Director Ann Enger encouraging her to pursue it that she gave it more focus.

“I’ve never had a studio and that was something I felt hindered me from really being serious in photography,” Green said, offering commercial and portrait photography and videography.

Green also appears as co-host on Fatima Fridays and the Big Franklin morning show, something else she hesitated to do at first. She often talks about conspiracy theories and her opinions on relationships.

“Frank said, ‘just come on the morning show and try it out,'” Green said. “I avoided it for two weeks straight. Finally, I joined and became part of the team.”

Starting out, the different shows airing had a very broad focus, with Handley making it more focused on Niagara Falls and branching across Western New York. While guests do come from across the region, 95% of their audience is from Niagara Falls.

Because of its online presence, Fire 716 shows have listeners across the country, drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 people per week.

“I have a guy that’s in the army and he’s in Guam,” Mathews said. “And he watches every Friday. He continues to come in because he’s interested in our topics and he likes the personalities.”

Handley feels Niagara Falls is behind in using technology to help businesses advance and grow. Aside from producing radio shows, he sees the space as a one-stop marketing shop for business photos, voiceovers, websites, and commercials, something else he feels is missing for the urban community.

“You can come right into your own community with people you’ve grown up with who understand the lifestyle here to be able to do those kinds of things,” Green said.

Fire 716 broadcasts can be found through the Fire 716 radio application for Apple and Android devices, on Facebook and YouTube pages and through posting on TikTok.

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