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Fire On The Mountain

The Struggle for WNCW's Soul

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Kim Clark is currently serving as acting program director of WNCW. Like Keefe, she takes pride in the consistency of the on-air product in spite of the turmoil. In a conversation with Clark, it's possible to catch a glimpse of the seeds of future harmony for WNCW. True, it's only a glimpse, but at this point in the station's history, that may be significant. In response to suggestions from the Hickory Taliban that independent record promoters may attempt to exert undue influence over WNCW's playlist, she said, "The concerns raised by Linda Osbon and Bill Bost are also my concerns. I make my decisions about what we play based on how it sounds and how it fits our radio station. It's (a record promoter's job) the same role a pharmaceutical representative plays in a doctor's office. They come with their new drug and leave samples. What they have done is educated the doctor about the product and left the decision on whether to use it to the doctor. It's the same thing when a record promoter sends a new CD to WNCW."

On another front, Kim Clark acknowledges those listeners who lament the drop in news content. "Once I became assistant program director, I fought to increase local content and cultural content like book reviews and the Art Break," she says. "We now run that 20 times a week. My position is that I'm always open to more news and information. Yes, we are a very cool music station, no doubt about it, but as a public radio station, there is more to it than music."

Clark acknowledges the station may have strayed from its roots in recent years and promises to back initiatives to rechart the future course of WNCW, should she be hired as permanent program director.

"We need to pay more attention to our roots," says Clark. "There is passion about WNCW because it's so special. It is something I have treasured since I first found it on the radio dial."

Should Dr. Lewis and the Isothermal Community College Board of Trustees decide to retain WNCW, they could do worse than turn to Kim Clark in an attempt to bring the warring parties together. It's a long shot, but a grand experiment like WNCW deserves a chance to flourish.

James Shannon is a staff writer at MetroBEAT in Greenville, SC, where a longer version of this story originally appeared.


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