Monday, September 16, 2019

Bluegrass Banjo

Raymond Fairchild

A favorite of WPVM listeners is its play of old and new regional music—especially featuring the distinctive music of the banjo!

Here are three great local banjo stories to enjoy:

Dom Flemons

An entertaining 5-minute listen from Blue Ridge Public Radio (BPR) writer Cory Vaillancourt featuring Haywood County’s “elder statesman of mountain music” Raymond Fairchild and Grammy Award-winning American songster Dom Flemons.

Billy Scribbles and Mikey 
Merrill on Asheville streets
Billy Scribbles—travel writer, folklorist and busker (including playing banjo and spoons on the streets of Asheville)—shares a Facebook post about playing with Raymond Fairchild. A delightful read!

Photo on left of Billy with Mikey Merrill of Madison County. “The Reverend,” as Billy calls him, is the real deal!

(Here’s a short picturesque video of Billy playing banjo during his current adventures on the road out west.)

Roscoe Holcomb
The Discovery of Roscoe Holcomb and the High Lonesome Sound

A 2015 article from The New Yorker magazine by Amanda Petrusich on Roscoe Holcomb; Bob Dylan described Holcomb's work as exhibiting a certain untamed sense of control. 

WPVM presents "Land of the Sky" radio show on Sundays at 7:00-9:00 pm which features 78 rpm recordings of regional music—with lots of banjo! Plus the station’s weekday afternoon programs highlight current musicians influenced by traditional regional sounds such as Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and many other artists with local roots; along with vintage recordings by Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Jimmie Rodgers.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Radio History

For anyone who has visited the WPVM studios in downtown Asheville this summer, they would have noticed a “work in progress”—displays of vintage radios and informational posters being arranged and rearranged around the station’s cozy lobby!

WPVM's Davyne Dial and Herb Johnson are putting together a unique historical mini-tour and exhibition, “Asheville World of Radio.” (Inspired by Herb’s collection of radios and accessories as well as his knowledge of radio history.)

Stay tuned for announcements about the exhibition opening to the public! ~

Monday, August 26, 2019

Women's Equality Day

On August 26, 1920, after three generations of an unrelenting, brilliant, courageous, political campaign, women in the United States won the right to vote. 

In 1971, to honor and commemorate this historic event, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a Congressional Resolution (she had to introduce it again in 1973 when Congress passed it) to ensure that this date would be commemorated with the designation of Women's Equality Day, which is now celebrated on August 26th each year.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi leads a Women's Equality Day
 celebration in 2016

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Each year on August 20th, National Radio Day recognizes the great invention of the radio. Celebrate the news, information, music, and stories carried across the airwaves.

Several inventors had a part in the invention of the radio in the late 1800s. Amazingly, not just one person can be credited with its beginning. Each component developed through invention and discovery. As these technologies converged, the radio came to life.
In the paragraphs that follow, a noted international effort contributed to the conception of the radio. In Germany, the research of Heinrich Hertz proved electricity could be transmitted wirelessly. Elsewhere, the multiple patents of the prolific inventor Nikola Tesla provided the radio with the Tesla coil. Born in Croatia, Tesla also contributed many patents involving alternating current advancing the science and production of numerous inventions. When it comes to the first commercially available wireless, Italian, Guglielmo Marconi receives the honor.   
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 In radio, you have two tools. Sound and silence. ~ Ira Glass

While entertainment and music fill the airwaves today, they were not the radio’s first functions. First, the wireless radio served the military. It also provided a regular public service role. Much like the dits and dots of a telegram, the wireless transmitted information. On board the Titanic at the time of its sinking, a Marconi wireless broadcast the ship’s distress signal. However, in 1906, the first radio broadcast of voice and music purely for entertainment purposes aired. Reginald Fessenden transmitted the program from Brant Rock, Massachusetts for the general public to hear. The Canadian born scientist would go on to many more successes in his lifetime.      
As wireless came alive, the first broadcast stations began airing programs in the 1920s. News and world events were the first items over the airwaves.
  • Radio ownership grew. In 1931, two out of five homes owned a radio. By 1938, four out of five owned a radio.  
  • According to FCC statistics, at the end of 2012, there were more than 15,000 licensed broadcast radio stations in the U.S.
  • On October 1, 1999, the first satellite radio broadcast occurred. Worldspace aired the broadcast in Africa. 
The founder of National Day Calendar hosts a radio talk show.  The “Guru of Geek” Marlo Anderson hosts the Tech Ranch, featuring discussions on technology for everyday life.  Click here to listen.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalRadioDay

To celebrate National Radio Day, listen to your favorite radio station. Give special recognition to the station, radio personalities and the programs that make your days better.  Use #NationalRadioDay to post on social media. 
Educators, join the National Day Calendar Classroom to get your students involved in National Radio Day with crosswords puzzles, a podcast and more! Every week the classroom offers a variety of lessons and projects to keep children engaged and learning. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Celebrating Women

In celebration of the Suffrage Centennial—when women won the vote in August 1920—and as a way to support the modern women’s movement, WPVM recently premiered a special interview program, “Women Fighting the Good Fight.” 

The Women's 
Suffrage Movement
The first show featured Justin Souther, the senior book buyer and store manager at Malaprops (Asheville’s renowned bookseller) and Cornelia Powell, fashion historian, guest speaker and writer. 

Justin brought a number of books from the store to “show and tell” focusing on the suffrage movement in the U.S. as well as in Great Britain, sharing stories of courageous women who gave their lives to this 72-year-long struggle for the vote. Cornelia (who is presenting a series of lectures over the next year around the Southeast—one titled, “Dress to Protest: What Women Wore to the Revolution”) interjected anecdotes from suffrage history. 

Remember the Ladies
Cornelia will join Davyne Dial—WPVM’s general manager and tech diva extraordinaire—at future randomly scheduled programs throughout the next year. (Plus, Justin will return as more books on women’s suffrage and woman-centric topics hit the book shelves at Malaprops.) Stay tuned. ~

The Woman's Hour
ps: Check out WPVM’s website page with listings of Suffrage Centennial celebrations—including exhibitions and lecture series—around the country over the next year-plus! Do you have plans for a celebration or commemoration that is not listed on the WPVM site? Then please email us and let us know so we can add it to our group!

(Other books Justin shared about: Votes for Women and Death in Ten Minutes.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

WPVM Honors Veterans

In February of this year, WPVM premiered a new monthly show, “NCServes Western Veterans Radio Hour.” NCServes, now known as Veterans Services of the Carolinas (VSC)—a local division of AmericaServes—is a non-profit organization that offers veterans, service members and families of both, access to a range of supportive sources from superior housing and emergency service providers to employment, recreation and fitness, health and well-being, financial capabilities and more.

Kevin Rumley 
Coordinator, Buncombe County
Veterans Treatment Court 
The show is presented live on the first Thursday of the month at 11 a.m. and rebroadcast on Tuesdays at 5pm. Each show presents experts in specific fields important to veterans and their families. One of the featured guests, Christy Shortridge, an Air Force veteran currently working on her master’s degree in social work, shared: “WPVM is giving us veterans an unstifled voice to speak to our brothers and sisters in a very candid manner that otherwise we wouldn’t have. We are so grateful.”

Following their mission of giving back to their much-loved Asheville community, managers of WPVM 103.7FM, Ms. Davyne Dial and Dr. Herbert Johnson, who acquired the FCC license for the not-for-profit station in June of 2015 (building the long-dormant station into a strong, positive voice of the community), consider it a privilege to broadcast the “NCServes Western Veterans Radio Hour.” The couple sees the program as a vital addition to their already notable lineup of informed show hosts well-versed in the fields of arts and culture, with a focus on vintage and regional music, as well as politics and current events—all covering subjects important to Asheville and the surrounding communities.

“It’s especially reassuring to know that women veterans and veterans’ families are being cared for and offered support services through NCServes Western,” remarked Ms. Dial, who is the daughter of a World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, as well as the former wife of a Vietnam War combat serviceman. “I’m happy that WPVM can play a part in focusing on these needs. In fact, I felt working with this group was nothing less than a sacred opportunity.” ~

Monday, June 10, 2019

Our Beloved Patron

Welcome to WPVM’s new blog! Most fittingly, our first feature is Dr. Herb Johnson, the station’s main and most beloved patron.

Recently Dr. Herbert Johnson had a revelation while sitting in the lobby of WPVM 103.7 community radio station in downtown Asheville—a station which he and his wife, Ms. Davyne Dial, manage since acquiring the FCC license in 2015. He was looking at the old black and white photographs on the wall, taking him back to his childhood in Chicago when his father was a professional musician, playing during the Big Band era of the 1920s and ‘30s with the likes of Paul Whiteman, known as the “King of Jazz.”

“My God!” thought Dr. Johnson—who has had a long and fascinating life full of both disappointment and success—"my life has come full circle! It started out in ‘show business’—listening to my dad on the radio—and now it’s circled back again!” Indeed, a feature of WPVM 103.7FM is their musical programs of vintage music including live and recorded Big Band music.

The decades in-between have been just as revelatory. Dr. Johnson graduated from medical school at Northwestern in 1960 (attending less out of his own passion and more because his immigrant parents were committed their sons be “professional” men), but he was not happy in private practice—a time when family medicine was becoming too much about the business of medicine. After a stint in the Public Health Service, Dr. Johnson was assigned as doctor aboard the legendary tall ship USCGC Eagle, a Coast Guard training cutter (built in Germany before WWII), but had to retire from the Coast Guard (retiring as a full colonel) when he became sick with encephalitis. Suffering organic brain damage, Dr. Johnson spent nearly a decade relearning to speak and to walk. Wondering what to do during his rehabilitation time, he “heard” the message: “you’ll read what you’ll find most boring” and, in turn, read every available book on the stock market. (The only one he found not boring was Andrew Tobias’ The Only Investment Guide You’ll Need, reading it twice!) As a result, he became a very successful investor.

It was not the last time Dr. Johnson heard “a mystical voice,” as he calls it, speaking to him, sending him messages of guidance and instruction. Although he moved to Asheville in 1989 because of the VA hospital, there could have been a “message” of a more intimate nature in that decision because he met Ms. Dial a year later and they’ve been together ever since. In Asheville, Dr. Johnson, putting his successful investments to good use, became the largest personal donor to UNC-Asheville, starting a book scholarship for students. But the real satisfaction for Dr. Johnson—highlighting his generous spirit—was the deep pleasure of philanthropy!

Back to that “full circle.” When they had the chance to acquire the FCC license for the long-dormant community radio station WPVM 103.7FM, Dr. Johnson and Ms. Dial didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to give back to their much-loved adopted city. Concerned with the country’s dwindling sources of independent media, the couple welcomed their new career, investing time, money and joy in the station! Through the not-for-profit Friends of WPVM, they’ve established a dynamic community voice, with a roster of informed and entertaining show hosts including programs featuring music of all stripes—and with a little “show biz” vibe! ~