He’s on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. He sits in the booth, laughing with and teasing callers as they eagerly await the news that they’ve won something. Sometimes he chats with movers and shakers about local activities and happenings in the city, keeping the community in the know.
To him, Magic 104.9 is more than a radio station. It’s like home. Ed Spillers, known by listeners as “Lee Stevens,” has been working in radio for 23 years. You could say his deep-seated passion for media and community is hereditary. When he was young, his father and grandmother owned “The Cincinnati Herald.”
“Media has been a part of my life since I was born,” Spillers said. “I draw all my inspiration and all my business acumen, when it comes to media, from my grandmother and my father because they did a lot for the Cincinnati community.”
Spillers’ first taste of radio was in 1996 at Central State University. From there, his love only became more fervent.
“In 2001, I got the opportunity . . . I always wanted to be in the big market because I felt I belonged there,” Spillers said. “And so, I got the opportunity to work at WJLB and WMXD—legendary call letters in America. I got there and I learned how to make things be big, think big and execute in a big way.”
When Spillers’ wife got an offer to work in West Michigan, she had to take it. So, the family packed up and came to Grand Rapids. Spillers’ time in radio would come to a halt, but only temporarily. In 2016, an opportunity arose for him to return to radio and do something big.
“There was a void and a need for a full 24/7 R&B urban radio station locally,” Spillers said. “So, we filled the void. We came on and we flipped 1410 AM to the FM dial, to Magic, at the time Magic 94.1.”
The response from the community was explosive. People enthusiastically flooded the station, requesting that the signal be expanded to accommodate listeners in the furthest reaches of the city and beyond.
“We said ‘OK, well we got to make a change,’” Spillers said. “One of the things I love about Townsquare Media is that if it makes sense, if it’s what’s needed, they’re going to do it. So, the opportunity came up where this signal [104.9] became available and we hopped on it real quick.”
The station offers nationally recognized fan favorites and caters to hip-hop and R&B enthusiasts from Dorr to Muskegon.
“We are 100 percent focused on what we can we do every single day to affect our community,” Spillers said. “We have a mix of nationally syndicated and local programming. We are a commercial radio station, so we have to do what we do best in order to affect ratings and improve the service here in West Michigan,” he continued, “So, I make no bones about it—yeah I got syndicated programming, but it’s what people want to hear. And that’s a fact.”
Beyond the music, Magic 104.9 is a platform for individuals and groups affecting positive change in the greater Grand Rapids area.
“We’ve had, I think, more than a thousand people on the air, focusing and highlighting what they’re doing—what’s positive in the community,” Spillers said. “We’ve supported, with our own money, over 15 different organizations and their events, and we have given free advertising for nonprofit events to about 70 different organizations. That’s our main hunger—to make sure that we are out there supporting, doing what we can because we have the largest audience in the urban realm.”
Yes, Magic 104.9 is like home to Spillers, a place where he can listen to music, have meaningful conversations and most of all, have fun.
“I’m here in West Michigan with people that support the radio station and listen to the radio station and are so excited about the radio station and now having this position, it means a whole lot to me,” Spillers said. “I am humbled every single solitary day, and it’s never missed on me that I’m about to walk into a radio station, crack open a mic and have fun with the people and them react to that. This has been the most fun I’ve had in radio.”