Monthly Archives: April 2007

Putting a face to the place–and a voice

Why is Charlotte such a special place? We don’t have our own mountains. We borrow the seacoast from our friends to the east. Historic preservation, according to some wags, is letting a building stand till its 15th anniversary (anybody in the market for a slightly used coliseum?).

Lest we get cynical on this Monday, I submit that Charlotte IS a special place. Our news staffers are trying to describe that special sense of place their ongoing feature series, “IPO Charlotte”. You can hear reports, read some background, and write your own comments and reactions.  Just look for the “IPO Charlotte”button, which lives in the Web site box right above this blog, here on WFAE.ORG.   

So as you ponder the important things in life this April, what does Charlotte mean to you? 



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Where do the deaths of April take us?

Spring is normally a most enjoyable time in Charlotte. Yet this is not a normal April, and our hearts are filled with despair. The headlines and airwaves are filled with news of killings.

On April 1st, Charlotte police officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton died in the prime of their lives from gunshot wounds suffered while taking a domestic complaint call.

April 16th, the mass killings took place at Virginia Tech. On April 18th, a 16-year old North Mecklenburg student reportedly threatened two young men with a gun, then drove to a gas station and shot himself to death.

One conclusion I suppose is that neither you nor I can hope to draw any rational conclusions from killings. They are simply variations on the theme of “crazy”.

The problem with that line of thinking is its simplicity. If the killings were all random and essentially senseless, then we as citizens are off the hook. We are free to feel powerless, outraged, fearful—and passive.

Perhaps the fruitful, more complicated path is to look for lessons in the killings. What actions should we take, individually or collectively, as the most fitting memorial to those who have died? What should we do tomorrow—next month, next year?

I am going to spend time trying to answer those questions for myself. I would like to hear what you are thinking, as well. 


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How do you get to know HD radio?

We had a few minutes last week–unfortunately during afternoon drive time–when 90.7 blipped off the air. Big FM signals likes ours are high-voltage affairs. Momentary dips in commercial power, or weather conditions such as high wind or storms can cause the transmitter to blink off. Luckily all this heavy-duty equipment is designed with smart circuits, so under most circumstances the transmitters restart themselves within a few seconds.

In last week’s glitch, the analog signal went off the air, but the digital signal continued on just fine.

What’s that about?  Well, our digital and analog signals are two really independent operations. They both use the same piece of spectral “real estate” in Charlotte, at 90.7, but the signals are generated by two different transmitters. They travel up the 1200-foot tower in two different conduits. Our antenna–really a set of wire cages that is almost 100 feet high–radiates both signals at the same time.

Which brings us to the content of HD, or digital. WFAE actually is TWO stations right now (with some more surprises to come).  We have a full-time “singer/songwriter” music service, along with our news service.  To hear either service in true digital you need to purchase a new receiver. No worries–we’re making that simple, too.  We have information on our home page that takes you to, where you can price HD radios and purchase one if you wish.  A portion of your purchase comes back to WFAE, and helps us provide you with more programming!  So we hope you’ll give it a try.  If you’re the show-me-first type, then you can sample the WFAE-2 singer/songwriter service through web streaming, and those directions are also available on this home page.

I hope you’ll sample the advantages of HD radio. Then be sure to write this blog with your experiences. What did you like?  What can we improve?



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Just how has Charlotte changed its ways?

I have a question for you:  Has our community really changed its social norms since its growth spurt in the past 20 years?  If so, can you be specific about the changes?

 We hear a lot of debate about that point–Charlotte is/isn’t fundamentally different than a generation ago.  But often times those terms aren’t very well defined.

Our news staff will be airing comments from several veteran Charlotteans on this point during this week’s “IPO Charlotte” segment.  Be listening during Thursday’s “Morning Edition”.  Check out the right-hand side of our Home Page for more details on this.

One of the traditions I noticed right away, 19 years ago when I moved to town, was willingness of strangers to hold a door open for another stranger. You don’t see folks rushing to be the first through that door. It’s a 5-second way of acknowledging the presence of the other person.  A 5-second way of showing respect.

On occasion I have seen this taken to extremes–two strangers locked in a dance around the theme, “No, you go first.”   But all in all, it’s a nice, humanizing touch.

What do YOU think about Charlotte, and what  changes have you noticed? 


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In Appreciation of Mary Dawn Bailey

WFAE lost a long-time advisor and friend on March 26th.


Mary Dawn Bailey died at the young age of 71.  The term “young” is used deliberately here, with all sorts of justification.


Mary Dawn served UNC Charlotte for 22 years, with leadership roles in the Urban Institute and the Graduate School. 


She was an early and vigorous proponent of womens’ studies and environmental education. I got to know Mary Dawn when I came to WFAE in 1988, and she was serving on the stations’ advisory board.


An enthusiastic bicyclist, fitness advocate and world traveler, Mary Dawn was the epitome of lifelong learning. Our lives are richer because of her energies and her expertise, and WFAE is stronger because of her advocacy.

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Congrats to Jack–Poet of the Prairie

Here’s a Poet’s Update. Jack Dillard, long-time WFAE friend and listener, won the drawing among the prized poets in the Prairie Home poetry contrest Saturday night. Jack receives a Select Comfort sleep number bed, along with a “bed” of 3 dozen roses. You see, Jack, life is flowery.

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