Nonexistent four years ago, Flagler County’s airwaves have been revolutionized by WNZF General Manager David Ayres.
Family: Wife, Q; children Nathan and Natalie
Occupation, title: Vice President/General Manager of Flagler Broadcasting
Four years ago, tuning a radio station to 1550 AM or 106.3 FM in Flagler County would have resulted in a lot of static and not much else. But Flagler County Broadcasting LLC changed that in August 2009.
Due to tropical storm threats during hurricane season, News/Talk Radio WNZF went live prematurely. At the helm was David Ayres, general manager of Flagler County’s first news and information radio station. Ever since then, Ayres has been one of the most influential men in the county, steering the station as a successful business, and as a key information and entertainment source.
Radio is in his blood.
Ayres got into radio at a young age. When he was 22, he was doing disc jockey work and was also program director for a station in Zephyrhills. The station went into receivership, and so Ayres was forced into being a court-appointed receiver. It showed him the other side of radio he wasn’t quite used to: the business end.
Shortly after, Ayres left radio and hit the road in a sales position. But he got tired of the asphalt day after day. He wanted back in the radio business.
In 1992, Ayres was at the top of the list for a general manager sales position for a radio station in Punta Gorda, a small town in South Florida. The radio station needed a turnaround, and quick.
Tricia Woods was tasked with hiring the sales manager.
Ayres got the job. He and Woods developed a professional relationship; she worked two doors down from him. In 1999, Ayres left to station in Punta Gorda, and went to work for Clear Channel Radio.
Jim Martin, who owns Flagler County Broadcasting, wanted to bring radio stations to Flagler County, the area he went to as a kid to hunt. Martin and Woods knew Ayres would be the perfect fit to start radio stations in a county that had never had its own.
“He walks the walk and talks the talk,” Woods said of Ayres. “He truly does believe in the community and wants to get involved. He knows that this is where he lives and he wants to see it get better.”
WNZF blossomed, largely in part of Ayres’ work both on the air and on the sales side. Things really took off when Ayres launched Beach 92.7 FM.
“We wanted to provide another radio station, but be totally opposite of WNZF,” Ayres said. “WNZF is full of controversy and news. The Beach is the oasis away from reality. You can just listen to great music, and the only news you’ll hear is weather.”
The Beach doesn’t feature a DJ.
“We don’t need annoying DJ chatter, so let’s just get back to the music and have fun,” Ayres said.
There are now three Flagler stations: WNZF, Beach 92.7 and Easy Oldies 100.9 FM.
“The longterm plan was always to add more,” Ayres said. “Jim Martin is brilliant at identifying markets. It struck an emotional chord that it was more than business — it was a heartfelt commitment.”
Woods has been in radio for nearly 23 years, and has known Ayres since 1992. She said Ayres is one of few people that she believes is the epitome of an “amazing human being.”
“As a friend, he would do anything for you,” Woods said. “He’s been my friend through some difficult personal things I’ve been through, and he would be the first person I’d go to because he has an ear that doesn’t judge.”
Heading into the fourth year, Ayres has big plans for his radio stations and the community he lives in.
“I really think that Palm Coast is poised for a rebound faster than the rest of the country,” Ayres said. “All the fundamental ingredients are bound here. It’s hard to find one category that we’re lacking in for economic growth.”
It’s just a matter of putting the pieces in the correct places.
“I think 2012 is going to be a great year here in Flagler County,” he said.