joe_kendrick_2015Joe Kendrick, an on-air personality at the Rutherford County-based public radio station WNCW for 20 years, has accepted the job of director of programming and operations at the station. The job is a key post at WNCW, which is beloved for its music programming, which is grounded in the bluegrass and roots music of the mountain and foothills region the station serves.

In 2009, the station faced state-budget cutbacks and reorganized its staff. (Isothermal Community College in Spindale owns the WNCW license.) At the time, it was one of three community college radio stations receiving state funding. WNCW bounced back and last year celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Kendrick, whose on-air personality matches his in-person vibe – friendly and easy-going – studied journalism at UNC Chapel Hill and took to the microphone at the college’s beloved WXYC campus station. At WNCW, he cut his teeth first as a volunteer, then programmed the station’s overnight hours before moving to morning show host in 2006 and midday host in 2008. Kendrick hosted his first WNCW show in October 1991, then ended up moving to Wilmington, N.C. He returned to the station in October 1995, and has been with the station since.

In a recent interview, Kendrick told me he’s excited about the opportunity to meet even more of a personal stamp on the station he loves, one that he calls a gem.

The job “has been my professional dream. It’s a huge honor, and kind of scary to think about, at the same time. But I’m up for it,” Kendrick said.

WNCW’s music “is an eclectic mix, an approach that goes deep and strives to be knowledgeable and represent the region and the community and the music from our own back yard,” Kendrick said. That core formula won’t change he said.

One big task that Kendrick plans to tackle is moving the station’s music into a digital database. “That’s not to say we will be computerized. It’s just that the days of playing CDs on the radio are more or less numbered,” he said.

Kendrick, who has blogged and experimented with video content, said he’ll continue to explore. “I love media in general, and I love collaborating. I have an idea to make us a little bit more dynamic by using some of the tools we have and don’t do much with, like our YouTube channel and our social media, just incorporate that more,” he said. “I think we can do things to make more content, and partner and share content.”

Beyond that, Kendrick said he’s looking forward to doing whatever he can to expand WNCW’s audience, a listenership that he estimates at about 100,000.

“There’s a whole generation that looks at radio as sort of a black-and-white movie, as something quaint. We have to meet them where they are,” he said. It’s a long wish list, Kendrick said, but one that he’s looking forward to taking on.

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16 Comments

  1. What became of Martin, who used to have that job? My take is that when he took over was when the station began to lose its way. The station’s content and attitude turned mushy I’m happy to hear he’s gone. I used to be an ARC Overnight volunteer DJ back in 2003. I did Friday midnight into Saturday 7 am, when Roland took over. “Uncle Dave” trained me. At that point WNCW was a vibrant voice in the community. But when Martin took the reins the station seemed to lose its balls. So….to Joe and all the staff, I wish y’all the best of luck. I still listen to DubAtomicParticles regularly but do so online, after the broadcast, since moving to Eugene OR back in 2006. Eugene has a booming radio scene. Check KRVM.org and KLCC.org. Especially KRVM daily after 5 pm PST and all weekend. Such varied programming! And hey!….I still miss the hill country around Asheville and, of course, the Carolina Blue. Peace, y’all……

    • Eddie:

      No, Martin is still on the air.

      Having had a small part of my “education” there, I can tell you what WNCW’s three biggest problems are: Isothermal, Community, and College. Nothing with a pulse can get out of that swamp. If it does, they’ll shoot it before it gets across the fence.

  2. Doesn’t Sugar Hill Records program WNCW?

  3. Hopefully Joe can get a handle on WNCW’s equipment issues, too. Interviews in particular have been sounding like doo-doo. The one this morning with the book guy was just about unlistenable, even though the author was quite compelling and Paul did a good job.

  4. We’re talking with Joe on tonight’s edition of the AFM News Hour at 7pm on AshevilleFM.org.

  5. Jackie Clarke says:

    I predict that when Asheville FM gets on the airwaves, WNCW will be pushed off its perch in Asheville. Asheville FM has been growing and adapting to the new media world while WNCW has been partying like it’s 1999 since…, well, 1999.

    • I too am looking forward to Asheville FM going over the airwaves, but it is an entiely different animal and will NOT replace or reduce WNCW.

  6. Lee Suddreth says:

    Congratulations,Joe! Hope you can get WNCW back on its feet. Suggestion #1 less bluegrass #2 less bluegrass #3 less bluegrass. Let the banjer heads have Saturday, but have mercy on those of us who listen during the work days.

  7. I would like to know more about the personnel changes at WNCW. I feel like their morning news person is always changing. Pam Bunch (couldn’t wait for her to leave – could never understand what the hell she was saying), then a little bit of Elda Brown here and there, and now Paul Foster. Joe Kendrick, if you’re listening – I would be happy if we moved away from the Paul Foster era. He is boring.

    Big supporter of WNCW, keep up the good work! Good luck Joe.

    • I hate to say it, but Morning Edition on WNCW is a disaster. The host sounds like a nice guy but is obviously in over his head. If they’re not going to add any appreciable amount of local content, why bother? Just do music with local news breaks like back in the day. I NEED for WNCW to be better! I’m still in love, but…..

  8. Who held this position previously?

    • asheville momma says:

      The position has been vacant for over five years. Don’t know why. Hopefully Kendrick can give the adrift ‘NCW some direction.

  9. Asheville Momma says:

    I hope Joe does a good job because good ol’ WNCW needs help. It’s a mere shadow of its former self and has been artistically treading water for years.

  10. Jeff Tallman says:

    Perfect!

  11. I can’t think of a better man for the job.

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