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WCOM- The Little Station That Could!

The Carrboro News in it's effort to help make Carrboro the best town that it can had decided to do a full insert on WCOM, complete with photos, interviews, schedules, coupons and live feeds. To do so would take a lot of work and planning, but it would be well worth it, as it would direct tens of thousands of new listeners to the little radio station that looks like a bank.

The first step is to get information, so one evening the lonely Carrboro News reporter decided to tackle the job on the way home from a night out on the town. Having had a few too many drinks and having forgotten his handy reporters pen & notebook combination kit that all serious reporters carry, he decided to stop by just to pick up a few brochures. Seeing a head bobbing in the window and the "on air" light flashing, he knew that it would have to be a quick stop- distracting the DJ from his tasks is a sure way to send a fledgling radio station to its early grave.

With a quick rap on the window and a finger pointing towards the door, the reporter got the attention of the lonely DJ. They met at the door and the reporter asked for a brochure which was quickly presented. The reporter took the brochure and began imagining in his head the wealth of information that little tri-fold 8 1/2 x 11 inch brochure would present. With a well filled brochure, he thought, he could probably skip the interview and all the other labor intensive methods of putting together an article. Yup.... he thought he could crank this story out in 20 minutes or less.

After a night of peaceful sleep knowing that the WCOM story was as good as in the bag, the reporter woke up, ate breakfast and then sat down by his computer to start writing. He had 30 minutes before it was diaper changing time so he was ready.... he picked up the brochure and began reading. His normal method of reporting was usually to read the whole brochure quickly and then slowly go through it, transcribing the information on his computer, making just enough changes to avoid being accused of plaugerization

But something was terribly wrong. The first page was in Spanish. He scanned through the other folds.. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. "My God! " he exclaimed to himself, "The DJ gave me a Spanish brochure and although my Spanish is OK, it is surely not good enough to translate something as official as a radio station brochure."

In normal circumstances, the reporter would have just said forget it and waited until he got around to getting a brochure in English, but this was not a normal circumstance. He had a deadline to meet.... with that in mind he had to make due with what he had.....


WCOM during the Carrboro Music Festival.
Stock photo from The Carrboro News Archives.

There appears to be a lot happening at WCOM. From the brochure it looks like they play live music, people cheer(I think that's something to do with the Community part of the station) and there's an older guy who reads the news(but it's hard to say as the photo is really blurry and he looks like it's a stock photo from the 1950's). I can translate enough to know that WCOM is "A radio that services the community". They appear to have a web site at( It looks like it is run by volunteers and they accept donations. They'll accept donations of $30,$60, $120, $250, $500 and "other". It looks like their membership levels are based on the "double down with a bump up at the halfway mark" meaning that every membership level doubles until you get to $120 where it doubles and adds $10 and then continues to double again. This is a format used by many of the more successful non-profits and acts to bump people up to a higher level with higher rates without them realizing that two of the lower rate memberships are less expensive than one of the higher rate membership.(So if you want a bargain, buy a membership for yourself and a friend for $120, instead of one for yourself at $250).

The radio station is the brainchild of Jacques Menage, creator of The Art Center, El Chilango and owner of the soon to be recognized as a Carrboro Historic Landmark- The Menage House on West Mail Street.

I could go on, but The Carrboro News has a long standing policy that it will not write just for the sake of filling out the paper, as many other papers seem to have. The DJ gave us the wrong brochure, we did the best we can and if you really want to know more about WCOM then go to the radio station and request a brochure in English(and tell them that The Carrboro News sent you!)

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