In 1990, WHIL-FM started "The Harbinger Hour", a local radio program dedicated to Gothic music, ambient music, electronic music, trance music, and space music. The idea for the program was the result of a meeting between Charlie Smoke, the director of music for WHIL-FM, and David B. Spalding, a writer of music reviews for a local periodical called the Harbinger and a trained musician whose specialty was Celtic percussion. Charlie Smoke set up the meeting with David B. Spalding after being inspired by his music reviews for the Harbinger. By then, David B. Spalding he had just begun studying radio, television, and film communication at USA in 1990 and had been stationed in Mobile with the Coast Guard of the United States since 1988 after leaving his birthplace of San Francisco, California. David B. Spalding would eventually become the host of "The Harbinger Hour".
When “The Harbinger Hour” began, it featured contemporary progressive music from performers such as Phillip Glass, Dead Can Dance, and the Deep Listening Bands, and it was scheduled to be broadcast every other Friday at 11:00 p.m. after a syndicated radio program called “Music from the Hearts of Space,” which included contemporary mood music and space music. According to the Harbinger, David B. Spalding described "The Harbinger Hour" as "somber and contemplative hour of radio" and said it was "never brash or noisy as a whole". David B. Spalding did research for each show from his apartment (with one bed) listening to record company promotions, reading magazines, and searching Compu-Serve on the World Wide Web for recommendations.
Even though David B. Spalding worked in a radio room for the Coast Guard of the United
States, he realized his program required a different speaking style in order for him not to not sound amateurish (he would later describe his early experimental shows as amateurish, according to the Mobile Press-Register). He remembered getting a few responses from the audience in the beginning and thought it was good for Mobile, even though he thought the audience was small and "amazingly unresponsive" compared to an audience in California. He thought this type of audience was why WZEW-FM (licensed to Fairhope, Alabama) cancelled their progressive music program “On the Edge.” According to David B. Spalding, the audience for “The Harbinger Hour" consisted of radio listeners who read the Harbinger and were in search of alternatives in Mobile, which he thought was a good market for new music due to the area having large colleges and universities.
By December 1993, David B. Spalding said he enjoyed the experience of hosting "The Harbinger Hour", along with his many listeners, according to the Mobile Press-Register, and said it helped him appreciate the music he reviewed much more such the music produced by a group of musicians called the Black Tape for a Blue Girl (he disliked their music in a review from 1991, but by December 1993 he liked them). David B. Spalding had hoped to syndicate the program, but said competition was tough because there were 200 to 300 good programs on the air while excluding small stations like WHIL-FM.
By 1994, WABB-AM in Mobile was broadcasting "The Harbinger Hour" on a regular basis instead of WHIL-FM. By October, the program was no longer being produced for WABB-AM.
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