I Want My CHL!

Has anyone else noticed the changes over at WCHL? “The Book show” with Kate Branch and the “Jewelry show” with Berkeley Grimbel ended long ago, and Jim Groot's “World According to Me” ended when Air America took over the nighttime hours. But as far as I can tell, the morning show with Ron and Eleanor, and D.G.'s “Look Who's Talking” are all that's left of CHL's original local programming. What happened? No more Special Hour? No more Last Word in News on the drive home? (I loved getting the next day's headlines a day before the stories ran). Where's Eleanor's Life On the Hill? The Noon report?

Along with programming changes, all the promotional tags seem to have been re-done with much higher production values and voices I don't recognize. Many of them have the same flavor as the rest of AM talk radio.

I hope we haven't lost the station, or was I the only one listening?



The deal at WCHL as I understand it is that the station was advised to create a more clearly identified brand name, a more reliable identity for listeners to latch onto. That meant creating an experience that was national left-of-center talk during the day (with local news, of course) rather than retaining its (presumably somewhat more costly) ecletic mix of national/local.

Ultimately, the station needs to attract ears and dollars to sustain itself. I don't know that the new strategy will do so, but that appears to be the only motivation behind it. I guess my own view is that left-leaning national talk is a viable product for some markets, probably including Chapel Hill, but that the current offerings (other than Ed Schultz) aren't consistently good and compelling enough. Heard Franken last week on a different station (a Rocky Mount affiliate, who knew?) and continue to be unimpressed. It was unfunny.

Of course, I'm not really part of the target audience. . .

It's interesting that the CHL spokespeople, who have shown up pretty quickly in the past when the station was discussed, have not offered anything here. It would be helpful to have an informed comment from Ron or Christy or Eleanor or Jim. Too bad as well that the newspapers have not reported on the changes.

I'm not the authority on some of the changes here at WCHL and will leave the big explanations for management, but I do want to acknowledge your comments here and let you know that others are aware and will give you more information soon.
We've added another progressive host, Stephanie Miller, to our lineup, and her show runs from 9am-noon, when Franken starts.
The Commentators is still there in the morning show, now known as Chapel Hill-Carrboro Speaks Out, and I know that Ron would love to have some more people speaking out!

Donna and Melanie, I did not mean to offend. But perhaps there is some confusion about what Anarchists believe.

If an Anarchist does not believe in having government, then I expect that s/he would not be registered to vote. Or if s/he were registered, I really doubt that s/he would be registered as a Democrat or a Republican - possibly a Libertarian depending on the sense in which s/he believes in Anarchy (see the Wikipedia link below).

If you don't understand how left meets right in the area of Anarchy however, then I would refer you to The Wikipedia article on Libertarianism, Anarchy and Socialism. Some of these radically different economic and political philosophies advocate reducing government to the point of elimination. That is where left meets right.

OK, I don't have time for a full response, and no time to debate right now...

But, in the interest of time, a brief overview: WCHL is not going away. Contrary to what someone said earlier on this thread, you will not be hearing about Cary and Raleigh Council meetings in the future. You will, however, continue to hear what's happening at Chapel Hill Town Council meetings, Carrboro Board of Aldermen meetings, Orange County Commissioners meetings, etc., plus meetings of the respective school boards, the UNC Board of Governors, and all the stuff we've been doing.

Yes, we have added some new shows. We have "The Stephanie Miller Show" from 9 to noon, as Eleanor mentioned, and I hope you like it. "The Al Franken Show," of course, from 12 to 3, followed by "the Ed Schultz Show," in the afternoon from 3 to 6. 3 straight left-leaning talk shows...and during those shows, we will continue to have lots of WCHL Local News Updates, plus the local weather forecast, etc. And, certainly, news bulletins throughout the day when the situation warrants.

Our morning show will remain essentially the same, from 6 to 9 am. Yes, we do have a new "station voice" but who wants to hear more of mine? We still have the daily commentary, by local people, about local issues (you're invited to participate, please) plus our "What You're Saying on the Street" featuring local opinions, WCHL Local News twice an hour, Sports, including full coverage of the Tar Heels (and not just football and basketball) and the local high schools. Lots of CBS News, Charles Osgood, North Carolina News, etc. There is no other radio station that covers what's happening in our local community every single day of the year. None. AM or FM. We will continue to do that. And we will continue to be very involved in our local community, which we all love. We will still do our best also to cover local charitable events, sponsoring or at least heavily publicizing all the wonderful things that go on in our town involving our hard-working non-profit organizations.

Yes, we are on the AM dial. Someone mentioned earlier that we should get a better transmitter, and a stronger signal, or move to the FM dial. Well, moving to the FM dial would be great, if the FCC would allow it. I believe we would have certainly done that a long time ago if we could. And we have a new transmitter on the way. I don't know how much that will help, but you can believe that we will use it to its optimal ability to try and get to as many people as we can. For those of you with weak AM reception, I wish there was something else I could say or do, but there isn't.

WCHL will remain pretty much the same, although certainly anyone can tell we have much more liberal talk on the air. And I neglected earlier to mention that our good friend, DG Martin will remain on the air with his great interview show, "Who's Talking Today" between 6 and 7 pm, immediately following a long newscast, wrapping up the day's events. DG will continue to talk with some of our community's major movers and shakers; for example, his guest tomorrow night will be none other than the incomparable William Friday, who will talk about the elections just past, and what the results mean for all of us.

We may sound a little different, but to tell you the truth, we've gotten great response from a lot of people who have enjoyed our new shows. We're NOT going to lose our local flavor, and we're certainly not "abandoning Chapel Hill and Carrboro" as one person suggested.
That kind of talk really upsets those of us who put our heart and soul into this radio station, and try our dead level best to serve this community.

Again, I will extend an invitation to YOU to become a part of the radio station and all the messages being sent out to the community, by not only emailing your response, or writing letters expressing your opinions, but, by all means, let your voice be heard by airing your opinions about whatever may be on your mind concerning local community issues. Our commentaries air Monday through Friday, they're sort of like audio versions of "Letters to the Editor," and the time limit is 90 seconds. And we invite those with opposing views to reply, always. Some of you are extremely gifted with words, and articulating your thoughts...I would like nothing better than to add you to our long list of local people who have strong opinions and express them regularly.

Some have asked about our website, and I will certainly admit, it needs quite a bit of updating. It has simply been relegated to a lower priority while we've been knocking ourselves out on some other challenges, and I can assure you that we will be updating it soon, and that we have plans for it to become a much more integral part of everything we do.

One other thing I'd like you to know is that we're now airing "The Best of Air America" on Sundays, featuring some of the programs that the network offers, that we don't carry during the week. A few have wondered why we didn't carry every single program that Air America offers, but that, of course, would mean that we would basically have to turn over our whole radio station to a national network, and we're not about to even consider doing that.

We will also continue our practice of providing complete election coverage, not only on election day, but letting our listeners know about the candidates and issues being voted on, in advance of election day. Once in a while, we'll put on a big all-day Forum, and invite dozens of local people into our board room to discuss life in our community and ways to make it better, and, of course, we will continue to bring you information you need in times of emergency, such as ice storms, hurricanes, flooding, or whatever conditions leave us without power, or compromised in the way we live our lives. Anyone who listens during such times of crisis can tell you that we are on the air with information on firewood, emergency shelter, generators, help for those who are confined to their homes, and certainly all the latest weather (and safety) information so that our community can get through it and come out on the better end of it with a bit of sanity. There is no other radio station that will do this. None. If you want to stay informed about what's happening right here at home, WCHL is the only station that gathers the information and provides it to the community, without regard to regular programming. In fact, in situations of that nature, we often "throw the format out the window," in an effort to better inform the public, with what's local, and what's important.

So give us a shot, please. We're still here, on the air 24 hours a day, doing our best to serve the community, while providing some other programming we simply can't do ourselves during other times of the day. I hope you will listen and I hope this will help answer some of the questions that you may have had. I would have responded much more quickly, but didn't have time. We're all working very hard to make sure WCHL offers a good product to our listening audience, which we do indeed cherish. Thank you and I'll see you on the radio...on 1360 WCHL, Chapel Hill-Carrboro's News Talk and Tar Heels Station.

Who is "MarkH?"

Maybe he can share his inside knowledge that led him to make the bold pronouncement, "They obviously believe that it is better to abandon the community for the bigger Triangle market and a slot near the bottom of the ratings than to be a local voice and news source."

So I went back to read Terri T's letter:

"When I saw the broken glass at headquarters on TV, it reminded me of events that occurred during "Kristallnacht." Though this comparison may seem extreme, there is a slippery slope when people start hating each other."

Wow. And I mean wow, the OP commentariat is all worked up about this? If Mike Nelson himself had made similar comments some kind of political attack resulting in vandalism and broken glass, I don't think I would have thought twice about it.

I can't believe I endured all kinds of excoriations, and mean looks at the polls, and rumor-mongering, given the stunning, and I mean stunning, hypocrisy between the group-think reactions to Terri T's comments, and reactions to the swastika in Town Hall, on the other hand (that was the issue there, Terri B., not art). A swastika that a brave African-American employee of Town Hall went on record to oppose as reminiscent of violent racism.

I remain grateful to and admiring of Ruby for providing this public forum, but more than ever, my occasional debates here will be for other readers, for eyes and minds thinking outside your collective box (or to remind elected officials of their vulnerabilities).


I don't think Terri's letters are works of art either. Whether the swastika flag is a work of art is also debatable.

"The fact that Terri is herself a Jew does not, as she suggests, absolve her from understanding the dangers inherent in the kind of trivialization she herself promotes. Rather, it gives her a heightened responsibility for understanding her own history and for challenging those who would abuse it."

So, does this criteria also apply to Jewish political artists?

Let me add--I don't have the radio on as background noise--when the radio is on, I'm LISTENING. When something is "going down" in the area--I'm listening to CHL. They got me through a hurricane, a blizzard, and more ice-storms than I care to count. AND the "Lockdown" at the schools.

Thanks CHL! You ARE one of the "pre-sets" on my car radio!

OK, I like WCHL, too, but the OTT is more fun. (Sorry, Ron.)

To put it poetically: art, schmart. Art holds no special privileges. Both controversies (such as they are) are about freedom of speech versus offending others. Terri could have put her thoughts into iambic pentameter and caused the same (if not much, much more) shock and awe. Can't we just agree that perhaps we're not as objective as we'd like to be?

Terri told me that she appreciates the apologies from Duncan & Ruby.
Dan Coleman states that Terri's remarks are supportive of antisemitism
and holocaust denial. I don't see any base for this charge.
He also falsely claims that Terri suggests she is "absolved from understanding",
she noted that she is Jewish because it is relevant.
Why would anyone suggest that they are "absolved from understanding",
people seldom assert a right to be ignorant!
National Socialist era analogies are generally used to attack political enemies, but Terri was deploring violence. She wasn't attacking anyone, just intolerance.
Terri made a very mild "reminds" analogy, and the criticism she
has received for it is disproportionate.
A seashell reminds me of the ocean.
I am disappointed with those whose only interest in the recent
vandalism and arson in Raleigh is that it not be compared with Kristallnacht.

I find myself listening to WCHL a lot more lately. I love the Stephanie Miller show in the morning. I stick around for Al Franken. And on the weekends there's more Air America programming from Janeane Garofalo and others. There seems also to be a lot of local programming, which isn't really that interesting to me, but it's nice that it's there for people who want it.

PS: If it were up to me I'd add the Marc Maron/Mark Riley "Morning Sedition" show - it's one of the better shows on Air America. Randi Rhodes is another favorite. Mike Malloy's show is growing on me.
When CHL isn't running Air America or Stephanie Miller - I'm not listening. Good thing I can hear the other shows when I can on line.

Jayson, thanks for your kind words. (You, too, Melanie.)
I don't think we have any plans to add "Morning Sedition," because if we did, I guess I would be out of a job.
And Ed, is it necessary for me to know what "OTT" is? Did I miss some earlier reference to that?

Ron, sorry, that was way too obscure. By OTT I meant off-topic topic. I couldn't let go of the non-CHL-related discussions on this thread.

CONS: going off-topic detracts from a worthy discussion about one of the last radio stations in the Triangle that hasn't become homogenized.

PROS: All the off-topic discussions has helped make this a very well-read thread.

I wanted to sneak this in while the topic is back on WCHL...we still talk with Neil Offen about the next day's headlines. It's at 5:30 every weekday.

I know that Mark K. and a few others mentioned they liked hearing those.

Thanks Eleanor. I'll be tuning in at 5:30. I appreciate Jayson's interest in the Air America/Miller/Schultz stuff, but it's just not my kind of radio. (It's fun every now and then.) Even though I agree with him in substance, I can't stand to hear Ed Schultz screaming at me on the way home after a long day.

The thing that made the station special to me was the very local focus of the programing. I loved the Special Hour. The multiple hosts and diversity of guests was a pleasure to listen to. Although I like D.G. and his show, it's not a replacement for the diversity the Special Hour offered.

I particulary miss the Last Word in News even with all the host changes over the years -- and I enjoyed the experiments with local shows. Some might think this is kinda weird, but I loved Berekley's Jewelry show. He had great stories of traveling around the world to find gems. And I'll never forget learning about how pearls are farmed.

Mark, I got hooked on the Special Hour (60 minutes of conversation which was really about 50 ;-)!) because of the diversity of guests and hosts. The last one I heard was Robert's NC-WARN show, covering a subject and a leader that other media run from like it's nuclear waste.

I've found D.G.'s POV kind of monotonous, but I probably don't represent the target demo for his show.

Ron and Eleanor, I got hooked on WCHL during the 'great ice-storm'. I have been amazed at our luck with having a media outlet so interested in the life and governance of a town. Live coverage of council meetings, candidate forums, updates on local issues in near real-time - the type of coverage with a high return in karma but probably deadly for ratings - and for this, you should be held up as the standard. Unfortunately, it seems with the shift to Schultz, et. al. the perception was created that you're dropping the karma generating side of your business in favor of the business side. Luckily, from you comments, this doesn't seem to be the case.

One last thing Ron, Eleanor, it might be cost prohibitive, but streaming the station would be great! I'd listen at work if you did this. Oh, and will you continue to archive your local content? This was a great way to catch a show/commentator that I missed.

You're welcome, Ron.

For Eleanor, I'm not into Ed Schultz either but if I'm in the car I'll sometimes listen because he does a good job of letting the audience talk.

WCHL runs more local programming than most stations in the country.

And, with Franken, Miller and Garofalo, I find myself listening to the radio again - and for long periods of time - more than I have in about 20 years.

Will R, yes, we are still archiving shows on the website. Several of them are still waiting in the wings, but they will be there!
We appreciate any feedback. Feel free to email the station with your comments as well as they are all taken very seriously.

I wish Al Franken's voice didn't grate on my nerves so...

Petty, but there it is.

This Monday morning at 6:35, while
listening to WCHL, I
heard the intro to the commentators
that said that Terri Tyson would be speaking.
I carefully listened, wondering if she
would even mention the word
"Kristallnacht". What I heard was a
word-for-word reading of her newspaper letter published a few days earlier that had generated so much press on these pages.

I ask a question to Terri:
Realizing the reaction that your letter
generated here, what were you thinking
when you allowed the commentary
to be broadcast? Perhaps
you recorded it earlier, before the OP
reaction, but even in that
case you could have called WCHL and
asked them not to play it.

I don't want to draw any conclusions
myself -- I'd like to hear your thoughts
straight from you.

Personally, I've loved Al Franken's comedy for many, many years. Going back to the earliest days of Saturday Night Live. His show on Air America is the reason I listen to WCHL. And now, Stephanie, too.

If WCHL weren't running this kind of programming, I'd never listen.
No offense to the fine folks working there. I just wouldn't know they were there at all.

Geez....thanks, Jayson.
You really know how to hurt a guy.
Guess we'll have to change your mind.

Don't mind him, Ron. He ain't from aroun' here. Most people are such strangers to truly local radio that they don't know how lucky we are to have a station like WCHL.

I think Franken's voice is sexy, and the rest of him too! :-) I really love listening to Franken and Stephanie miller.
If WCHL went to FM maybe it's AM space could go to air america? That would be awesome!, cause the local stuff dosen't really do anything for me. This towns too nice to be all that interesting we'd need casinos and murders for that, like the last place I lived.

hahaha. sorry Ron. i guess that came out wrong.

What i meant was, i'd have never turned onto the AM dial if Franken's show wasn't there. i gave up on AM radio a looooong time ago. i'd probably have satellite radio by now. but instead, WCHL has kept me localized with their national shows.

Uh....OK. Thanks, Jayson. And have you checked out Ed Schultz, too, from 3 to 6pm? What do you think of him?

Why would I pull the commentary?
That would mean that a few people on a website had succeeded in silencing me!
There are people living in this town who really appreciated the letter and the commentary. In fact, I received several calls after it aired from citizens thanking me, saying it was excellent and very true, and expressing hope that people would carefully consider this point of view with an open mind.
One person left a message saying it took a lot of character and integrity to say it. Some of the people on this website have been quite supportive.
I think it is my best commentary yet.

Ron - I've been listening to Franken's show since I moved here and Stephanie's show since it started. I remember, over the summer, I heard a lot of promos for "The Special Hour" but I don't remember hearing any promos for the morning show. If it was me as PD, I'd schedule a promo for your morning show at least once an hour, every hour. But I'd make several so they don't get repetetive.


More on local media changes

NandO reports that the Herald-Sun is up for sale. The last of the locally owned dailies is on the block. WRAL [which is still locally owned] reports that 88% of North Carolina daily papers are owned by corporate chains.

We did see changes when McClatchy took over NandO and will likely see more changes when the Chapel Hill News switches from community focused Ted Vaden to the new, more biz-dev, editor.

More speculation on the future of local media?

Paul, until I saw your post, I had almost forgotten that Ted "signed off" on Nov 20th. When I read the CHN this morning, I didn't notice anything different, so maybe that's why I had almost forgotten. The same writers wrote local stories and "Roses & Raspberries" were the day's editorial. The letters seemed to be the normal blend of pro-con viewpoints.

Ted was surely community focused, but what evidence is there that his replacement won't be? Ted wrote in his farewell column, "Replacing me here as publisher is Brenda Larson, an experienced newspaper manager who is passionate about community newspapering."

He said nothing about the new editor. Your refer to the new publisher as "the new, more biz-dev, editor." Wasn't she the business development analyst for The News & Observer's community newspapers? Note that there is no “editor” listed in the box on p. A-10 (other than managing, news and sports editors); only a publisher.

I will hold judgment until I see the work of the new editor.


I don't have all the Chapel Hill News info in front of me and yes I did get the title editor and pubisher switched in my mind and in the posting above, but I do go into the changes there fully aware that the vision of someone like Ted Vaden is from the start different from the vision someone (completely unknown to me) from the bizdev side of newspapering. Saying that, I await the evidence from Brenda Larson's actions before judging her or the paper's new life.
I was amazed to notice an immediate change in the paper. I don't think that I even hinted at that. But I do expect changes. Some I will no doubt love and some I will no doubt gripe about.
But the potential for change in the Herald Sun and the Chapel Hill Herald is even greater.

Going back to the "Blood Done Sign My Name" posting from me.

You can hear the WUNC produced show in which Melinda Penkava talks with Timothy Tyson the author from the WUNC Archives at your convenience.
WUNC scooped National Public Radio by several months and did a long and through show with Tyson. http://www.ibiblio.org/wunc_archives/sot/index.php?p=101
WUNC has also made it one of their featured shows:

Picking back up on the Herald-Sun sale.

It's now official. Paxton Media of Kentucky has bought the formerly locally owned paper.

Here's how the Herald-Sun covered the story:

And how NandO covered it:

The Herald-Sun, according to its own story, will be the 29th link in the Paxton chain and the largest paper to be owned by Paxton.

Sure, Ann Coulter would be great. We need to show the world what conservatives really think. No one lets their freak fly like Coulter. For instance, she's advocated that the US should kill "the American Taliban" kid so that "liberals" would know that they, too, could be killed by their government.

Ann Coulter is probably not the best representative of what conservatives really think.

Even the National Review won't touch her with a 10-foot pole.

I'm sure I've missed an announcement of some sort but could someone tell me what happened to Eleanor Murray?

WCHL knew the high schools were dismissing early BEFORE THE HIGH SCHOOLS DID.

Don't know what that says about the chain of communications in the school systems--but it speaks well for WCHL!

I like the letter to the editor in the DTH:


"I needed to read Tim Tyson's “Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story,” and I didn't know it. I was required to read it by my older brother. He swings to the left, and our conversations are usually negotiations. This was different.

I spent 3 1/2 years at UNC, and I graduated without knowing much at all about the civil rights movement in this state.

I am now aware that there are many classes I could have taken, but I wasn't interested at the time.

My high school courses had taught me all I needed to know, I thought.

The other books being considered are fine books, but I didn't need to read them. I needed Mr. Tyson's book. I know I'm not the only one.

This book is about North Carolina and this country. It has challenged my understanding of my history, but its sources are available in Wilson Library.

Now I've read it, and I need to talk about it. I wish it had been the summer reading for my class."

Duke is considering it for their summer read also.

Timothy Tyson is back in the news. His book Blood Done Signed my Name, mentioned by Paul Jones above, has been selected as the UNC Summer Reading book for 2005.

for coverage from the Herald Sun.

All I know is that young whipper-snapper Mike Nutt that WCHL has in the newsroom these days - whoo, he's something else! (What a name though. Poor guys parents never thought they'd birth a broadcast journalist.)

If you ever see him on Franklin Street trying to ask people questions, I bet he'd love it if you stopped and talked to him. He doesn't bite, usually...and then you get to be a radio star!

Eleanor is no longer with WCHL, leaving the station without ANY local female voice. That's a real shame and not a good sign of any commitment to local programming. Of course, I guess that's been gone for a while.

You know when local hosts can't get an hour a week on the air, charging nothing and costing only engineering time (for my show ... about 10 minutes) that's pretty bizarre. We're probably talking about under $25 production cost for the one hour show I did oh-so-briefly. I even offered to edit the show myself just to keep it on the air long enough to get some traction.

Admittedly, it may have been cut for lack of interest from listeners, but we had no chance to build an audience, so you can't really know.


I haven't checked the website in a while and thought I'd respond to the inquiry from laura about why I'm not at WCHL anymore.

First of all, thank you, laura, for noticing! I was laid off in the middle of November as part of a cost-cutting move. This occurred shortly after the station became syndicated from 9am until 6pm.

As of 2 weeks ago I am working part-time for Sports Radio 850 the Buzz and love it. I worked as a sports producer at a tv station in Atlanta in the mid 90s and am thrilled to be back in the field (no pun intended). Aside from doing sports updates on the radio on Saturday mornings, I cover games and go to press conferences.

Again, thanks for the question, even though it was posed a long time ago...



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.