Arts + Entertainment

A unanimous vote from the Jackson County commissioners will allow construction of a 185-foot radio tower in Cullowhee to move forward, but the decision came after vocal opposition from six of the seven county residents who spoke at a 3 p.m. public hearing on Monday, Nov. 27.

What began as an effort to give Western Carolina University’s campus radio station broader coverage could end with construction of a 185-foot tower capable of expanding coverage for emergency communications, broadband and cell service in the Cullowhee area.

As the sun rises over Papertown one bright morning in 1958, a 30-year-old African-American by the name of Nathaniel Lowery wakes up and, like hundreds of others, heads for the mill.

Haywood County listeners accustomed to tuning into 95.3 FM for their National Public Radio fix will have to look elsewhere on the dial after Asheville-based WCQS switches its Waynesville broadcast to 102.9 FM, beginning Friday, Nov. 18.

swainStation manager Robert Lowe hopes to have Swain County’s first FM radio station up and running by next week.

fr WWCUA protracted tug-of-war over the 95.3 FM radio frequency is finally over, setting the stage for Western Carolina University’s campus-run radio station to expand its reach well beyond Jackson County’s borders.

art frA cold wind howls through the campus of Western Carolina University as the screams of a young woman echo from a nearby building.

The voice is Stefani Cronley and her attackers are a gang of apes.

Two years after being saved from imminent death in the nick of time, WBHN began broadcasting regularly in Bryson City last week.

Lloyd Brown, pastor of Spruce Grove Baptist Church, bought the Swain County radio station in 2010 and has been slowly working to revive the AM frequency.

Jackson County commissioners may have taken a leap of faith to help WRGC radio get back on the air, but it seems to be paying off so far.

Not only has station owner Roy Burnette restored a local AM presence to the cars and homes of thousands of listeners in Jackson and surrounding counties, but he’s also created the equivalent of eight full-time jobs practically overnight.

It will be several more weeks at best before Sylva AM radio station WRGC gets back on the air, pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission to grant the station a license.

Word that the station would resume broadcasting around Valentine’s Day were rumors, said Roy Burnette, who is trying to revive the radio station. In addition to securing the license, Burnette is waiting on a final piece of funding in the form of a Jackson County economic development loan.

WRGC went dead last August, a victim of dwindling advertising dollars in a hard-knock economy. WRGC was owned by Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co., which currently operates radio stations in Franklin.

Burnette wants to buy the station and expand its reach from east of Canton in Haywood County to Topton in Swain County, which in theory also would expand advertising-revenue possibilities and make the station financially feasible.

Burnette, CEO of the new 540 Broadcasting Co., asked county leaders for a $289,000 loan to make his dreams come true. Jackson County commissioners have approved $179,000 of the loan outright and are poised to extend the remainder — if the county can figure out reasonable collateral to cover the loan if the radio station owner defaults. Efforts to protect the county by joining Burnette as a co-license holder on his FCC permit were rejected by the federal agency.

Of the total $289,000 loan, Burnette wanted $250,000 to purchase the actual radio license from Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co. Some $39,000 was designated for acquiring the equipment needed to install the 5,000-watt station. Burnette would provide $100,000 in his own dollars for working capital.

The county has agreed that payments on the loan would be deferred until May 2012 and then be paid during the next 10 years in 40 quarterly payments at an interest rate of 2 percent.

County Manager Chuck Wooten said that Jackson leaders “are still having to work through” possible collateral and that Burnette might be asked to pledge personal assets.

“He seems amenable,” Wooten said.

For his part, Burnette said he’s simply “waiting on the FCC to grant the license for a transfer.” That will also allow him on moving forward with building a new transmitter.

“Everything will be top quality — the signal and service,” Burnette said.

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