Happy Birthday Ron!

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Happy Birthday to WCHL’s Ron Stutts!

Ron, besides being the bedrock upon which WCHL’s success rests, is an all-around “nice guy” (hope that doesn’t mess with his street cred ;-)).

I met Ron a longtime ago but didn’t really get to know him until I became more active in the local community. Ron seems to know everyone, has an encyclopedic knowledge of our community, is a stalwart supporter of many worthy local causes, has a great mellow vibe and is just an interesting guy to shoot the breeze with.

One of Ron’s many jobs at WCHL is to corral community commentators for WCHL’s 90-second commentary spots.

While I had done a few sporadic commentaries on critical issues like the red-light camera project, saving Chapel Hill’s only hands-on arts program, the Town’s budget, Lot $$$5, etc. over the last decade, I hadn’t thought of myself as up to being a “regular” like Walt Mack, Terri Tyson, Augustus Cho, Wes Hare, Laura Paolicelli or Fred Black (who now appears to have a regular gig subbing for DG Martin on WCHL).

I ran into Ron at a community event shortly after last year’s election and he kindly encouraged me to comment on a more regular basis.I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for as I’m fairly sure each of my spots takes some skillful editing to squeeze them into their allotted time.

Ron always pulls off that feat with the best of humor and makes what sounds like an incoherent delivery into a fairly serviceable message.

Thanks Ron for giving me the opportunity to get the message out.

Ron is always looking for new commentators, here’s his contact info if you’re interested.

Here’s a few of my recent commentaries that Ron and fellow production wizards Anthony and Walter somehow whipped into shape (MP3’s):

The Power of Sorry: A Local Apology to Get the Ball Rolling

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Over the last six years, I’ve learned more than a tad about how our local political sausage is ground. The manufacturing of poor public policy for political gain adds a distinctively bitter taste to that meaty melange.

Yes, at times, pettiness, spite, gamesmanship and ego overwhelm good sense and reasonable public policy. For a few of these “powerful” folks, public disagreement at any level, is a line-crossed forever – a sin never to be forgotten.

Fortunately, at least as I’ve discovered, most of the local “movers-n-shakers” operate using a different calculus – follow their own internal compass – center their arguments more on solving problems – than working to belittle those philosophically opposed. Sure, sometimes the waves of disagreement toss the boat of local discourse about. Maybe a few intemperate barbs about “tone” are thrown around. Debate can and sometimes does devolve into vileness.

In the end, though, whether at OrangePolitics (OP) or SqueezeThePulp (STP) or the Chapel Hill New’s OrangeChat or BlueNC or even on a WCOM radio show, valuable signal seems to punch through the noise of mean-spirited divisiveness.

I don’t buy all the hype about “the wisdom of crowds” but I do know that the folks participating on these forums – whether I agree with them or not – have provided me a new perspective and an invaluable education on local, state and national issues.

There is wisdom in yond hills.

It’s a shame, then, when a healthy dose of disagreement descends into the provinces of puerile, petty vindictiveness (or worse).

Heck, I don’t want to see a group hug or a chorus of Kumbaya but maybe, in these, our country’s current troubled days, just a small crumb of Rodney Kings “can’t we all just get along”.

That’s why I’m happy to see this Geoff Gilson post over on STP:

People, we are lucky that we live in a community that cares enough to be as active as it is. And we are all of us intelligent enough that we should be able to engage in that activity without needless vitriole.

Now, I’m as guilty as anyone of getting a few cheap laughs out of a local politico’s discomfort. But the events of yesterday have got me thinking.

So. Let me start the ball rolling. Dan Coleman, I apologize. I know you are a good and decent man. What happened on ESP was cheap. I’m sorry. On my new show, I will ask you tough questions. But the histrionics will be…well, history.

That bit of radio theatre was a hard listen.

I know Dan. I had listened to and read Gilson’s work. My (quite extensive) stomach sank as the show unrolled. I knew these two had significant disagreements on policy. They had an opportunity to publicly sharpen their cases for and against. Maybe even a better than good chance to shed a little light on the local scene.

All lost in the noise.

Sure, Geoff is working on a new show for WCHL 1360.

Cynically one might presume that this fence-mending is more about dissipating potential guest’s concerns than an honest attempt at rapprochement.

I’m taking Geoff’s bridge building on face value. I think he wants to restart a conversation and not a shouting match.

Good for us. We all win when our local “movers and shakers” expound and sharpen their arguments over local policy in the arena of public debate.

WCHL’s 2007 Babble-thon: Growing, Learning, and Living Together

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007


I just called in to challenge the Chamber’s Aaron Nelson’s “triple bottom line” bull (the idea that the Town has greatly ignored economic development in deference to social and environmental justice) and to ask how we keep Chapel Hill affordable for existing residents. I’m afraid they’re not quite setup to take questions. I spoke with Christy Dixon who is working the problem. This is a great opportunity to get direct responses from some of our key local leaders – I hope folks are willing to slog through and call to comment.


It’s time again for WCHL 1360’s

2007 Chapel Hill- Carrboro-Orange County Forum: Growing, Learning, and Living Together. The forum will be held on Wednesday, April 18th and broadcast LIVE on WCHL from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.

What an interesting group of local talent WCHL has assembled – elected folks, University leaders, the distinguished and even some old-school rabble rousers.

If you have an issue you’re particularly interested in, I suggest you call [ 919.929.WCHL (9245) ] during the forum. It’s also a great opportunity to solicit “clarifications” on local public policy from both our elected leaders and the University..

The all-day forum features five panels and ten hours of discussion. Panelists include Town and University officials, local business owners, representatives from civic organizations, as well as local residents.

8:00 am Town & Gown Relations: Growing Together

Moderator: Walter Sturdivant

  • Dick Baddour, Director of Athletics, UNC-CH
  • Ken Broun, Chair, Leadership Advisory Committee on Carolina North/Former Mayor, Town of Chapel Hill
  • James Carnahan, Chair, Carrboro Planning Board
  • Mark Chilton, Mayor, Town of Carrboro
  • Dan Coleman, member, Carrboro Board of Aldermen
  • Mike Collins, Co-Chair, Neighbors for Responsible Growth
  • Laurin Easthom, member, Chapel Hill Town Council
  • Kevin Foy, Mayor, Chapel Hill
  • Jonathan Howes, Vice Chancellor of University Advancement, UNC-CH
  • Richard Mann, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, UNC-CH
  • Gene Pease, Gimghoul Neighborhood Resident
  • Roger Perry, member, UNC-CH Board of Trustees
  • Roger Stancil, Town Manager, Town of Chapel Hill
  • Bill Strom, Mayor Pro Tem, Chapel Hill Town Council
  • TBD

10:00 am Keeping it in Orange: The Price of an Unsustainable Economy

Moderator: TBD

  • Delores Bailey, Executive Director, EmPOWERment, Inc.
  • Creighton Blackwell, Chapel Hill Market Executice, RBC Centura
  • Robert Dowling, Executive Director, Orange Community Housing and Land Trust
  • Barbara Jessie-Black, Executive Director, PTA Thrift Stores
  • Scott Maitland, Owner, Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery
  • Chris Moran, Executive Director, Inter-faith Council
  • Aaron Nelson, Executive Director, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce
  • Greg Overbeck, Owner, Chapel Hill Restaurant Group
  • Ruffin Slater, Owner, Weaver Street Market
  • Steve Stewart, Town Manager, Town of Carrboro
  • Tim Toben, Vice Chairman, Board of Visitors at the UNC-CH Environmental Program
  • TBD

12:00 pm Crime & Safety: Its Not Mayberry Anymore

Moderator: Walter Sturdivant

  • Allen Baddour, Orange/Chatham Superior Court Judge
  • Margaret Barrett, Executive Director, Orange County Rape Crisis Center
  • Charles Blackwood, Captain, Orange County Sheriff Department
  • Joel Booker, Captain, Carrboro Police Department
  • Joe Buckner, District Court Judge 15B
  • Brian Currin, Interim Chief, Chapel Hill Police Department
  • Carl Fox, Orange/Chatham Superior Court Judge
  • Kevin Gunter, Lieutenant, Chapel Hill Police Department Community Services
  • Carolyn Hutchinson, Chief, Carrboro Police Department
  • Dan Jones, Chief, Fire Department of Chapel Hill
  • Joyce Kuhn, Executive Director, Orange Chatham Alternative Sentencing, Inc.
  • Steven Moore, Chapel Hill resident
  • Lindy Pendergrass, Sheriff, Orange County Sheriff Department
  • Donna Kay Smith, Executive Director, Family Violence Prevention Center
  • Tom Tucker, Chairman, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
  • TBD

2:00 pm Education: Think Globally, Teach Locally

Moderator: Ron Stutts

  • Mosey Carey, Orange County Commissioner
  • Mike Hanas, Principal, Carolina Friends School
  • Kim Hoke, Director, Public Schools Foundation
  • Graig Meyer, Coordinator, Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate
  • Denise Morton, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum Instruction, Orange County Schools
  • Neil Pedersen, Superintendent, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
  • Sharon Ritchie, Co-Director (First School), Frank Porter Graham Development Institute
  • Lisa Stuckey, Chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board
  • Jeff Thomas, Principal, Carrboro High School
  • Steven Weber, Director of Secondary Education, Orange County Schools
  • TBD

4:00 pm The Arts: Too Important to Leave to Professionals

Moderator: Jon Wilner

  • Steve Balcom, The Splinter Group
  • Glenn Booth, owner, Local 506
  • Joseph Haj, Producing Artistic Director, Playmakers Repertory Company
  • Randee Haven-ODonnell, member, Carrboro Board of Aldermen
  • Emil Kang, Executive Director of the Arts, Carolina Performing Arts
  • Michael Maher, owner, Wootini
  • Tess Mangum-Ocana, Concerts and Facility Director, The ArtsCenter
  • Mac McCaughan, Co-Founder, Merge Records
  • John Plymale, Producer, Sixty-Five Roses
  • Derek Powers, Manager, Cats Cradle
  • Mike Roig, artist
  • Kirk Ross, local musician
  • Alex Zaffron, member, Carrboro Board of Aldermen

Robert Seymour on Our Community’s Fit, Frail and Fragile

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

The fit 80+ year-old Robert Seymour has a short WCHL commentary [*MP3] on the Human Services Advisory Council’s 5-year master aging plan to help manage the greying of Orange County. He notes our county already has more than 18,000 residents over 60 years old – a figure sure to explode as the “baby boomers come on-line.”

More from Robert’s commentary [*MP3], tha Aging Advisory Board, the Orange County Human Services Advisory Council and county department on Aging.

There are numerous vacancies on the various aging related advisory boards. Please consider getting involved.

Applications for these and other County advisory boards are here.

*MP3 with the kind permission of WCHL 1360AM



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