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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.