Radio station WCOK's Sue Utt. Sue is the station now. When it was down to nothing, in the hole, on the verge of locking up, the station manager hired Sue in a crisis when the two djs left same day, leaving the station with no one to operate it and no notice. Sue had no experience. Her only qualification was she needed a job. Station manager took her in, showed her the basics of how to work the electronic equipment in one day and left her with it to figure out the rest.
Ever since the station changed from what it was in the time Arnold Clodfelter and Judy Halsey worked there, a part of the community, and went to acting like an FM country station playing nucountry, Dolly Parton and little else, it lost touch with its community, people quit listening, businesses quit advertising.
The attitude toward the community seemed to be, if you don't like it, get over it. The community's attitude was, we don't like it, and quit listening. WPAQ is received fairly well in this county and WBRF very well. When WCOK doesn't play what the people who like to listen to the station want to hear, they regret it and change the dial.
Sue, not knowing what to do or when she'd be told they were shutting down, started talking to the people listening, asking them to call and tell her what kind of music they want to hear. Bluegrass, country and gospel, they said. The nucountry and Dolly cds left the station with the previous djs and nobody cares. All that was left was what the listeners wanted to hear. The station has a good bluegrass collection, most of it never played, and a good gospel collection. Good country too.
Sue has given the station a friendly personality now. She has a beaming spirit and it comes across in her voice, how she talks. Listeners can feel it. She's a welcoming spirit and even answers the telephone when she's able. When she's not able, she calls back first chance if a message is left. She's making commercials now. I hear her commercials and feel good for her because she does it with a voice that speaks to the listener instead of past the listener. For Sue, the listener is the reason she's there.
Sue cares and it shows. Advertisers are coming back. They're glad it's a home town station again. It didn't really take any doing to get it changed around to a station that responds to listeners. It was just an attitude change. The attitude, we don't care what you want to hear, went out the door, and wanting to know came in. There are plenty of FM country stations on the radio. An AM pretender doesn't have a chance, obviously.
It's different for me when I go in on Saturday morning for my old-time / bluegrass show of regional music. Before, whichever of the djs was at the station couldn't stand local music. The collector of Dolly dolls most of the time wouldn't even speak to me, not as a form of shunning, but simply not interested. That old hillbilly music is for hicks. Dolly is the cutting edge.
I can't help but find it amusing that these guys believed the station was going under, which it was, and would fold when they withdrew. Not. It's coming back because they withdrew. Sue has brought WCOK to life. I once introduced her to someone as WCOK. Sue brought the station back to Alleghany from Dollywood Dreamland. I've come to believe she's an answer to prayer and regard her as such.