South Charlotte

Volunteer starts new radio show for seniors

When David Gwilt said he wanted to launch a radio program just for seniors, his friends thought that he had gone crazy.

After all, Gwilt had already contemplated early retirement.

But something was still missing for this enthusiastic entrepreneur. Gwilt has been pondering the idea for around three years.

"As a youngster in Syracuse, N.Y., I remember spending summer nights on our porch, listening to stories shared by my great-aunt Peggy, who lived to be 99," said Gwilt. "I often enjoyed hearing all my older relatives share their life stories. The historical aspect of their lives, the hopes and dreams they had, and how those folks managed through times of change and circumstance fascinated me.

"Now as an older adult myself, I have the chance to honor the legacy of those wonderful storytellers by creating this weekly live talk-radio show."

The show is on WBCN, 1660AM, Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

Gwilt graduated from Syracuse University in 1972. He majored in psychology and special education, and while in school and for a time after, worked with a variety of special needs individuals, including both children and adults who were autistic, emotionally disturbed or mentally disabled.

Gwilt entered the business world in his early 20s and has been in sales, marketing and management for most of the past 40 years. As he approached his late 50s, he felt the call to get involved in a social service capacity.

Now divorced, he decided to pursue a graduate degree in gerontology, the study of aging. He had previously co-hosted a real estate talk radio show in Charlotte in 2008, which is when he fell in love with radio and realized that he had a talent for it.

He relies on his ability to speak for long periods without breathing, a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh.

Gwilt, who lives in Ballantyne, is the father of five, with his children spread out around the country in Charlotte; Burbank, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Syracuse.

Ask this 62-year-old when he's going to slow down, and he'll tell you that God will let him know; until then he's going to keep on living his dream.

Jackie Pittman, executive director at Carriage Club of Charlotte retirement community, agrees with his enthusiasm.

"By listening to 'Radio 4 the ages,' David provides information for seniors that is impartial and fun. Carriage Club will definitely be listening in on Sunday mornings," said Pittman.

Gwilt has struggled for sponsors and has been working to promote the program. At the moment, he has to be the creator, host, ad sales person, marketing magician and all around promoter for the show.

He works full-time but is not paid by the station. He has to secure advertising dollars and donations to fund this effort.

"We all know about the baby boomers and the growing impact they are having on our society," said Gwilt. "Insurance companies, health care corporations and real estate brokers are all clamoring to cope with this emerging population."

Gwilt's inspiration for the show is his belief that "all senior adults are best served when they are informed, involved, active and listened to."

The support for the program since it started airing in September has been overwhelming.

"David can reach, educate and reassure more families in one program than I ever thought possible," said Hillary Kaylor, ombudsman for Mecklenburg County Nursing Homes. "The program is already becoming such a valuable resource for everyone"

Programs will include topics ranging from estate planning to elder abuse, retirement living, aging healthfully and stories from seniors about their life journey.