WCOM Loses Its Most Stalwart Supporter and Friend

On Saturday, Feb 3 2018 from 10am-noon, a special live on-air remembrance was broadcast on Rocco’s show “The Music Hall”.    It was recorded by Tofu Dave and is now available for listening online:

On January 21, 2018, WCOM lost its most generous and sustained supporter and long time program committee member Cat Devine. She touched the lives of most of our hosts and, it seems, most of the citizens of Carrboro. She was a founder of WCOM’s parent non-profit, the Public Gallery of Carrboro, formed in 1997 for an amazing public art project on Weaver Street, some of which remains today.

Cat Devine

Andrew George found this column by Cat from 2005:

Not Built in a Day – WCOM 103.5 FM

The artist in each of us has least one gift to share with others.   Take this notion home and dial your radio to WCOM 103.5 FM while you cook, garden, work on a car, paint, write, or entertain.

The artists at WCOM are gifted in all kinds of ways – creative, technical, logistical, and rhythmic.  Their special talents, along with a desire to share them with others, brought volunteer-powered community radio home to Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

This particular work of art started with a lofty idea and some uniquely raw material.  The raw medium takes the form of a new class of low-power FM radio stations created by the FCC, making room on the dial for legally inventive broadcasting.  A small consortium of community-minded locals decided to get in on the action.  The rest isn’t history yet.

WCOM broadcasts from the heart of downtown Carrboro in quarters that functioned originally as a bank drive-thru – more raw material to work with.  The studio designers turned the space 90 degrees and preserved all of the building material, including the drive-thru window with its external visibility and internal countertop now facing the main drag.  Cool!

103.5 FM is a hairline on the dial, but the low-power signal sounds fine within a five-mile radius.  This we owe to gifted engineers.  They had a year to comply with the FCC license.  They equipped and configured the station and plowed through a ton of obstacles to launch WCOM last September.  Bravo!

Then the fun began.  With computer-generated music airing 24/7 and a thorough studio shake-down underway, the call went out for volunteer DJs.  Yahoo!

Aspiring radio personalities lined up with program ideas to pitch in a juried selection.  The chosen few exhibit the most passion for music, the most extensive and/or exotic personal collections, and the most eagerness to share their current favorites with a live audience.  Each of them curates a weekly program put together in their “other” spare time.  All of them have day jobs.  Not all of them live within listening distance of WCOM.

(Case in point:  I live well within listening distance.  In fact, I live so close to the station that I could almost broadcast by sticking my head out the window.  But loving the sound of your own voice will only get you so far.  My quirky talk show didn’t make the cut.)

WCOM’s volunteer DJs fill the programming schedule with mighty fine offerings on weeknights and weekends.  Colorful show titles like “Roots Rampage” by Bob Burtman and “Planet In My Kitchen” by Richard Klecka decorate the calendar.  Cabot Dixon ‘s “Random Acts of Music” inspires me on Thursday nights.  Ann Parrent named her show “This Is Easy.” That lets her keep reminding us how easy it is to run the board, juggle CDs, and have a general ball at the mic.  Jayson Tanner airs “Wrecking Ball” at noon on Sunday – good timing.  Likewise Mark Edwards’s “Psykick Dancehall” at 10:00 on Monday nights — what the heck, the week is young.

Nuts for jazz and old standards, I go for “Saturday Morning Music Hall” by Ron (Rocco) Nittoli and “Breathing Room” by Fred (Fred) Wasser following Rocco.  Melva Okun (“Musings With Melva” at 6:00 on Sundays) confides that she wants to be known as the Marian McPartland of Carrboro.  Just between us, Melva’s got it nailed.  She flies the whole plane.

“Y’alternative” makes for tricky spelling and a darn good show by Joe Swank on Saturday afternoons.   Berkeley Grimball regales local singer/songwriters on “The Hook.”  John Howie Jr. shows up at 10:00 on Tuesdays with all of his country music influences and golden tones.

My favorite announce of all time comes from Andrew “Furious” George.  “Furious” airs on Saturdays at 5:00.  Andrew plays funny infuriating stuff and then says, “You’re listening to WCOM 103.5 FM.  I’m Furious.”  Makes me laugh every time.

Next up, WCOM has public affairs programming and a twice-daily local news/features hour to develop.  The latest call for volunteers goes out to potential hosts, producers, writers, reporters, and broadcast engineers.

Speaking of gifts to share, money works great – cash donations and fundraising energy.  This all-volunteer undertaking revolves around a fairly expensive day-to-day operation, and it’s not finished yet.  (Hint: Any plumbers in the house?)

Visit the WCOM website www.communityradio.coop and click on everything that brings out the artist in you.

Watch a segment of The Batchelor Pad on WCOM Radio

Each Monday night from 6 to 8 PM Eastern, L.A. Batchelor hosts the outstanding sports and politics talk show The Batchelor Pad on community radio station WCOM.

This half-hour video provides a sample of the excellent, engaging, and informative programs L.A. delivers each week.

WCOM-FM 103.5 Receives 50 Forward Award from Coastal Credit Union

CARRBORO, NC: The Public Gallery of Carrboro, which operates WCOM-LP 103.5 all-volunteer community radio, received one of five $5000 50 Forward awards from Coastal Credit Union in a ceremony at its Raleigh headquarters on November 14, according to Public Gallery of Carrboro chairperson Art Menius. 50 Forward enabled participants to nominate a deserving nonprofit to win a $5,000 donation. Entrants are asked to identify a nonprofit within the 16 counties where Coastal does business, briefly describe why the nonprofit is deserving of a donation, and explain what it does that is meaningful to the person nominating it.

1500 people nominated 463 non-profit agencies, according to Menius. Five were selected to receive the $5000 awards. The other 50 Forward recipients were Raleigh Rescue Mission, Chapel Hill High School Philharmonic Foundation, Beginnings, and First NC Robotics.

The video which Coastal Credit Union produced about WCOM can be viewed at https://youtu.be/yde6gind5s0.

“We’ve spent the past 50 days looking back on the impact we’ve made in the lives of our members and community over the past five decades,” said Coastal’s spokesman, Joe Mecca. “50 Forward is the kickoff to our next 50 years of serving the community, and lets our members pay it forward to the organizations they see doing great work.

One of the first stations to go on air under the FCC’s Low Power program, WCOM went on air on September 29, 2004. The station, which rents studio space from The ArtsCenter in downtown Carrboro, reaches listeners around the globe through its Internet stream on www.wcomfm.org. It depends on donations, grants, events, and underwriting for its income.

WCOM provides a radio home for dozens of volunteer hosts creating original programming including outstanding talk and current affairs shows and music programs spanning many genres with especial strengths in roots, jazz, and blues. Guests on WCOM over the years have proven as diverse as Congressman David Price, blues star Shemekia Copeland, then State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Chris Hillman, the late Elizabeth Edwards, and mentalist The Amazing Kreskin. WCOM has trained and given a first broadcast opportunity to countless area residents.

According to its website, “Our mission at WCOM is to educate, inspire, and entertain the diverse populations of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and nearby areas. We cultivate local music and facilitate the exchange of cultural and intellectual ideas, with particular regard for those who are overlooked or under-represented by other media outlets. We provide a space for media access and education by providing equipment and training to our community.”

Welcome Skyler Borgman to our Board

Skyler  Borgman, CFA, has joined the board of directors of the Public Gallery of Carrboro, the parent organization of WCOM community radio. A financial adviser with Morgan Stanley, Skyler was active in non-profits in his native Philadelphia. He has a particular interest in and vision for building WCOM’s relationships and identity in the greater Carrboro and Chapel Hill community.

Hal is in the House

Our new broadcast automation system – named Hal is an informal poll of show hosts – is in the studio. Engineering plans to put it online replacing Simian on Saturday, January 7. Although we have to expect the bumps in the road of any technological transition, the new system will eliminate the endemic issues with Simian during the last year and make remote show posting, management of back up shows, and scheduling syndicated programming much easier.

We owe a lot of thanks to Engineering Chair Donald Brumfield for making this happen with the kind assistance of Bill McClymont. We also appreciate the donors to our 2016 Annual Appeal and Orange County for funding Hal.

WCOM at Primetime Business Expo

WCOM promoted itself and underwriting opportunities at the Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s Primetime Business Expo at the Friday Center on Thursday, November 11. The chamber generously gave WCOM a booth at Orange County’s largest such event, putting us in the same venue as WCHL, WQDR, Wells Fargo, Camerons, the Chapel Hill Sheraton Hotel, and several dozen other area businesses.

Donald “DJ Smooth Jazz” Brumfield, WCOM’s engineer, staffs our booth at the Primetime Business Expo.

WCOM hosts Ernie Hood, Don Emmett, Becky Johnson, Donald Brumfield, Bill Hendrickson, Art Menius, and Dave Bellin took turns representing the station both at our booth and visiting those of other businesses.

Dubose elected at Annual Meeting

The members of the Public Gallery of Carrboro (dba WCOM Community Radio) held its 2016 Annual Meeting on Saturday, October 22 in the ArtsCenter. The membership by acclamation elected Eliza Dubose to a three year term on the board of directors starting on January 1, 2017.

Donald Brumfield presented the engineering report, Bill Henderickson for the Development Committee, and Karl Blake for the Programming Committee. The latter has been very active lately adding new local and syndicated shows and developing a system for rebroadcasting local programs. Art Menius offered the financial report indicating that the board has ended the unfortunate run of $2000 annual losses that began with the $5400 per year increase in studio space rental.

Menius gave the chair’s state of the station report. He listed numerous accomplishments of the past nine plus months including enhanced budgeting and cash flow projections, stronger committees, new bylaws and observing them, more fundraising and grants, adoption of and monitoring a long range plan, bringing the station into compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 with the outstanding support of music hosts entering data into Spinitron, and 100% underwriting compliance. He also listed challenges before us including increasing involvement in the local community, strengthening the community of WCOM members, getting more people involved in the tasks that keep the station on the air, and building a financial reserve.

The Kraken Hosts Benefit for WCOM

The Kraken, “Chapel Hill’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Roadhouse,” will host a fundraiser for community radio station WCOM on Saturday, August 20, starting at 7PM. Five musical acts have committed to perform. Katharine Whalen, lead singer of the original Squirrel Nut Zippers, continues to make outstanding music solo and with several groups. The Milagro Saints play roots rock Americana with great original material as featured on their new album, Stranger Times. The Cosmic Country Band keeps alive the sound of Austin in the 1970s led by Lisa Rhodes who was there. Hank and Brendan, a Carrboro guitar and banjo duo, shatter preconceptions with music ranging from Yes to Reno & Smiley. From Carthage, Mama Molasses delivers soulful Americana music. Additional artists may be announced as confirmed. Orange County’s Grilled Delights food truck will be there. All donations will benefit WCOM, your all-volunteer non-profit community radio station. The Kraken is located five miles west of Carrboro at the intersection of NC 54 and Dobson’s Crossroads Road. For more information about the Kraken http://thekrakenbar.com/