With over thirty years of experience as a professional audio engineer, Dennis Jones, is busy making waves in WNCW's Studio B. This week, Dennis is setting up his equipment for a live to air recording session of a newly discovered band out of Asheville, North Carolina, interestingly named "Black Robin Hero". Seen here in his 'office' as Dennis refers to it, are the seemingly miles of cables that connect all the components necessary to capture the sounds that are blended and mixed to create those tunes that we all enjoy listening to. Sitting at his sound board, which is frightening to most of us, Dennis is expertly twisting and turning the dials and monitoring the sounds, making adjustments as necessary. This has been going on for years. Since 1993 actually, when Dennis first became involved with WNCW in Spindale. Throughout the years, Dennis' career led him around the world as he produced and recorded albums for stars like Emmylou Harris, John Mayer, Alison Krauss, Aretha Franklin, ZZ Top, John Sebastian, Huey Lewis, Prince, Ricky Skaggs, Warren Haynes, Peter Frampton, Los Lobos, Every Hair Band from the 80's, Steve Miller, Del McCoury, Earl Scruggs, Little Feat, Alice Cooper and more. Needless to say, Dennis has a pretty impressive resume. Currently, Dennis is the host, programmer and producer of Sunday morning's "The Gospel Truth", a wildly popular show that can be heard by tuning in to 88.7 FM from 6:00-10:00am.
Following Dennis on Facebook is indeed a treat. On Sunday mornings Dennis shares scriptures and photographs of churches around the area and if you love music like he does, then you're sure to enjoy his regular posts of quotes from various artists. Most recently, Dennis posted this: "Music is indescribable, and no words can be said to understand it. The only way to understand it is to hear it" by Allyson McClain. His appreciation for music and performers is also apparent as he regularly posts their birthdays and upcoming events where you can go to see them perform live. One of the more delightful little treats to be found on his Facebook wall are his 'selfies'. With over 2000 'in the can', it has become customary for those who enter the studio to pose along side Dennis. When asked if they expect or get offended if they're not asked to pose with him, Dennis replied, "They do want a photo, and, they ask to do them. Sometimes just to update an old one. If they weren't asked they would be offended and often tell me it's the only reason they came." If you are lucky enough to meet Dennis in person, there's a good chance you will be the subject of his next selfie. Co-workers, performers, doctors and nurses, friends and family are all there, frozen in that moment of time, next to Dennis. His vivid descriptions of those encased in that frame tell you so much about this man and his love of people and what they represent to him.
You may have noticed that Dennis is in a wheelchair. Stricken with polio in 1959, Dennis recalls, "I remember being very sick and the high fever for days...I remember the 'iron lung' and being in that." In those early years, Dennis used crutches occasionally, mostly as a precaution, but on the advice of his physicians began relying on the wheelchair more heavily in the past 15 years. "It's part of what's known as Post-Polio Syndrome," Dennis tells us. "As polio survivors age, we develop all sorts of issues. I've been dealing with a few since 2012: gall bladder/pancreatitis, esophageal varicose, spleen and liver issues. Mainly just arthritis, neuropathy and muscle loss. I have 10 doctors you know!"
One might expect that day in 1959 would have been the single most defining moment of his life, but you would be wrong. Dennis says it was "The day The Lord called me to Him. Second Tuesday in July, about 3:00 pm. I was on a bus in Burbank, California, coming home to my apartment in Toulca Lake. I suddenly felt like I would explode if I didn't get off that bus. I told the driver to stop. He thought I was on drugs or something...but said I couldn't until the next light. He stopped and let me out in front of Saint Finbar's Catholic Church. I went inside and God spoke to me. Not in the big boomy Hollywood voice, but a calm gentle one that said...'Everything is going to be alright, follow where I lead'. I was there a long time and a young, fresh out of college priest came to see if I was OK or just a wino. I told him what was happening....he said 'Wait right here...I'll go get someone.' It was the Monsignor Emeritus, Kieran Marum...a real Irish priest who spoke gaelic. We became great friends and he would sit with me for hours talking about Jesus and the scriptures. He told me...'I've seen this happen twice in my 60 years as a priest.' He loved my bluegrass...called it uplifting and pure. The nuns in the school loved it too. They called it folk music. Some were a little scared of me and the way I could quote scripture. Little did I know God was preparing me to return to North Carolina and sit behind a microphone on Sunday mornings and play His Word through bluegrass music. It is the greatest privilege in my life to sit there and do His will."
Yes, Dennis Jones is making waves. There seems to be no end in sight as he continues to exercise his expertise in the music industry whether he is recording seasoned veterans or introducing new talent. His voice while on air, the stunning images of his photography and his love of life ooze out all around him. This Rutherford County man has impacted the lives of so many here at home and all around the nation.