(Southern Pines, NC) After a number of tumultuous years, it looks like we’ve finally landed where we belong: the Sandhills region of North Carolina. According to Wikipedia, the Sandhills “… is a strip of ancient beach dunes which generally divides the Piedmont from the coastal plain, and is the evidence of a former coastline when the ocean level was higher, or the land lower.”
Now, though, some 20 million years later, the Sandhills of North Carolina are home to Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen. There are other communities as well, but those are the three primary ones. Pinehurst, with its famed Pinehurst Resort bills itself as “The Cradle of American Golf.” Not being a golfer, I didn’t know that before we arrived here a month or so ago. But you don’t spend more than five minutes here without becoming keenly aware of that fact. There are something like 40 golf courses here. Strangely, though, it seems there are no miniature golf courses in the area. It looks like I’ll have to learn to play big boy golf
So how did we get here? About 6 years ago, I started to do occasional freelance advertising copywriting and production for Muirfield Broadcasting, a small, locally-owned company which owns Star 102.5 FM, AM 550 WIOZ, and a cable TV station. Tammy and I visited the area maybe 4 years ago when we were in High Point, and were pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful place it was. So, a few months ago, when my friend Jan called from WIOZ to let me know that there was a rare opening, and asked if I’d be interested in applying, I jumped at it. And, well, here we are.
These are terrific people! Friendly, professional — just a great group to work with. This is a rarity in American radio these days: an AM and FM that are locally owned and locally programmed, to the benefit of this beautiful community. And I feel as though I’ve returned to my radio roots: I host “Sunrise in the Sandhills” on WIOZ-AM, from 6 -9 weekdays. I play what they call “Adult Standards,” which is, essentially, what MOR Radio was when I first got into the business in the 1970s.
So, here I am at 61, playing the music I played in those days, and once again, I’m a radio “personality.” I spent enough time as a news anchor, in both public and commercial radio, to get quite tired of both of those jobs. And, unfortunately, in most places, the huge radio corporations like Cumulus and iHeart Media have bought up huge numbers of stations, fired the on-air staff, and replaced them with automatons. Basically, the sucked every last bit of fun out of the business.
Here, we do it the old-fashioned way, and it works. Of course, we still have time when there’s satellite programming… but the community spirit and involvement are very much alive here.
So here we are in the Sandhills. We love it here. And I think we’re here to stay.