Public radio station WNCW slashes staff

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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WNCW has suffered some major funding set-backs this year, and has now made a move to cut staff and try to stop the bleeding. The worry, though, is the impact these moves will have on those who are left and on the station’s product – its programming. 

I’d like to know what you think. Is WNCW losing what has made it great? Can it survive? Will it?

Here’s the explanatory release:


(From Mike Gavin, 8/31/09):

As many of you know, WNCW 88.7 lost significant funding in this year’s state budget. Those losses have been compounded by decreases in revenues from other sources.

Earlier this summer, college administration asked WNCW management to devise a reorganization plan that would effectively address the budget concerns and would preserve the programming that members and supporters of the station expect.

After a great deal of deliberation, a plan was developed and announced to the station staff last Thursday afternoon. Three positions were eliminated, one was reclassified. The positions that were eliminated include: Development Director, Corporate Services/Traffic Coordinator and World Cafe local host. The position of Business Manager was reclassified. These changes are effective on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Three of the four people affected by this reorganization were offered other positions at the college, including the reclassified WNCW position. One of those individuals resigned and, as a result, the Business Manager position will be advertised. Kate Barkschat will assume the role of director of the Polk Center, which will be vacated this week due to the unrelated resignation of Cindy Ramsey. Crystal Scruggs will take a position in the Financial Aid office.

This decision was made in the best interest of the station. It was deeply considered and did not come easily. The plan went to great lengths in providing alternatives for the affected employees. It will also achieve the purpose of sustaining continued quality programming for listeners and a great value for underwriting supporters.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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  1. Asheville Dweller September 11, 2009

    8 hours of bluegrass shows how not to be diverse just like this town.

  2. Lee September 10, 2009

    Quote: "The 8 hours of bluegrass is the highest rated, best financially supported program they have."

    Hey, I’m a bluegrass fan myself, but enjoy other music too. I think 8 hrs at time is too much, and conflicts with claims of diversity.

  3. Non-Diverse Dude September 9, 2009

    The 8 hours of bluegrass is the highest rated, best financially supported program they have.

  4. Asheville Dweller September 7, 2009

    WNCW just proves that Asheville is pretty non-diverse.

  5. jamieSears September 5, 2009

    Amen to you, Brother Lee! Such blessed "diversity" ( like a piece of white bread that has a brown crunchy crust in addition to all that white purebread goodness is "diverse") should indeed be supported by those who think such bread is the only sustenance worthy of their diverse and illuminated superior selves! (Have you ever heard a black dj on WNCW? Me neither.) Bring on them di-verse banjos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah….the variety is killing me!!!!…

  6. Lee September 4, 2009

    Quote: "WNCW is unique in that it is SO diverse."

    Oh yeah, they are so diverse that they play 8 hours of bluegrass on Saturday??

    It would seem in tough times that the Development Director position would be very important–who raises the $? It is too bad that the local cafe host lost his job–he is blind and unlikely to find something else. How much could cutting his parttime job be saving the station?

    The state funding should have been cut years ago. WNCW should be supported by it membership and supporting businesses.

  7. BrinnCee September 3, 2009

    Jeff, if you know "each and every one of regulars on staff" then that means you probably work or volunteer there. Wouldn’t that make you a little less than impartial? BCW wants me to elaborate on how the station has been declining to my ears. Okay, here’s my take. I used to get the feeling that the djs were working to please the listeners, but now TO MY EARS they sound like they are only playing what they like. (Someone told me that they don’t have a programming manager anymore and that djs just play whatever they want. That might explain some of what I notice.) Noodly newgrass and way too much "cool" jazz. There are some fantastic singer-songwriters, smart pop artists and others who don’t get payed anymore because evidently the guys there don’t like them. This music used to be played on NCW when it was more successful in fundraising. I know the economy has been tough, but the press release even says that there have been "decreases from other sources". If you are providing a service (music) that people see a value to, they give you money. If you don’t, they won’t. I’m saying this is all TO MY EARS- I’m not laying out some big declaration here to debate. If you love WNCW, cool! Listen and be happy.

  8. Asheville Dweller September 3, 2009

    Did I say mainstream? No I just said change it up a bit, stop trying to change my words up. Like I said I never cared for this station in the first place, always thought it was rather bland.

  9. Jeff September 2, 2009

    WNCW freakin ROCKS. While sad that Steve Francis is out of a job after 19 years, I am glad that there are no other on the air staff changes. Those in place have a depth of knowledge of music that is incredible. I know each and every one of the regulars on staff and they are genuinely in it for the love of the music.

  10. September 2, 2009

    Ya’ll know I like to bitch and complain, but WNCW is about the only thing left in WNC worth sticking around for – but wait – I pick up WNCW in my new hometown – hooray!!!

  11. b.c.w. September 2, 2009

    What other direction would WNCW take? There are plenty of other corporate radio stations offering your ‘mainstream’ offerings. WNCW is unique in that it is SO diverse. I find it hard to believe that anyone would say ‘change direction’ when WNCW has been all about diversity from the start. In what ways has the station been ‘declining’?

  12. BrinnCee September 2, 2009

    To my ears, WNCW has been steadily declining for the last several years. Honestly- who cares anymore? They’ve been too complacent to change with the times and now just sound like a bunch of snobby frat boys for the most part. (Just my opinion, of course) I would think the reason for the "decreases of revenue from other sources" is that less people and businesses donate. They make it sound in the article like these decreases are a friggin’ act of God totally out of their control. If only all us dummies were smart enough to support their brilliance!

  13. Asheville Dweller September 2, 2009

    The station needs to take a new direction, I think everyone is tired of the same ol same ol, You know switch it up. I never was impressed by this station.

  14. Real Reporter September 2, 2009

    Another instance of how information and entertainment outlets, both public and private, are struggling in this economy. Staff cuts at Clear Channel-Asheville and Saga (Asheville Radio Group) have cut staff and reclassified job titles as well. While the revenue raised at these outlets is through ad sales instead of listener donations, the result is the same….there are fewer dollars available to keep these operations going at the level they’ve been going. I still hold out hope that this is a cycle, and things will rebound. Keep your chins up radio, television and newspaper employees. Keep doing the good work that you do.

  15. Mike September 2, 2009

    I don’t know anything about the specific people in those positions–after everyone from my era left, I pretty much lost interest in the direction the station was taking–but it seems rather odd to eliminate the development director, the head honcho of fundraising.


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