Last Spring Rutherford County's beloved public radio station WNCW, located on the campus of Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC had to postpone its fundraiser twice, while watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold.
Concerts were canceled, festivals were no more, people were out of work and the much needed volunteers could no longer come to the station. When the fundraiser finally happened, a handful of staff members hunkered down, answered phones and entered data for more than 80 hours, in one week, raising a record breaking $265,000.
"We had a feeling it would be successful," said Business and Development Specialist Vicki Dameron. "Many people were reaching out prior to the fundraiser via social media, cards, letters, and phone calls letting us know how important WNCW was to them during the coronavirus crisis. They could turn on the radio and know we were there for them. It really had a calming effect on people. Music and art does that, and I believe our listeners and musicians felt, and still feel, a sense of normalcy knowing we're there for them in a time when everything seems to be crazy and out of whack."
WNCW staffers have been busy making sure to keep the music alive and to do everything they can do to help musicians and venues stay viable. It's not easy.
Like many organizations, the music and entertainment businesses have been hit hard. WNCW Director of Radio Operations Dave Kester knows only too well what the crisis has done to the world of music.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, WNCW has been committed to keeping our audience up to date with the latest news and information regarding the pandemic, but also maintaining the eclectic music programming that we've been known for since the station went on the air 30 years ago," said Kester. "We also recognized the serious effects the pandemic has had on the music industry. With venues shut down due to the social distancing requirements, listings on our Live Music Calendar became non-existent. Most all local, regional, and national musicians started doing live streaming of performances with no audience, so in support of the artists, we offered a free live performance streaming shows listing where we would have normally run the Live Music Calendar. The artists have always supported WNCW, so we thought we should return the favor. We've also recently partnered with a group putting on a series of weekly streaming performances by different artists each week."
The key right now is to be creative. The station and many of WNCW's beloved musicians have been doing just that, using social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, along with YouTube and Vimeo to produce live streams, videos, personal insights and uplifting material to share and promote music, art and what it's like to watch the world deal with a pandemic of this magnitude.