WCHL’s Heavner to Join UNC’s Journalism Hall of Fame

Story originally posted September 15, 2014, 5:12 p.m.

The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication is welcoming WCHL’s owner and CEO Jim Heavner as a “Halls of Fame” inductee.

The N.C. Halls of Fame for Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations ceremony honors “individuals who have made outstanding, career-long contributions to their fields,” according to a press release from UNC.

Inductees must be native North Carolinians, or be identified in some way with the state.

Heavner – who’ll be inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame – started working at WCHL in 1961, and was the force behind moving the music station to the news/talk format.

The station began life in 1953 under the ownership of Sandy McClamroch, who served as Chapel Hill’s mayor throughout the 1960s. By 1978, Heavner was the majority owner.

WCHL operates as a division of VilCom, of which Heaver is owner and CEO.

Heavner is one of eight Halls of Fame inductees to be honored at the Oct. 10 event at the Sheraton Chapel Hill.

Others include UNC Professor Emeritus Harry Amana, the first black journalism professor at the university; and Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

In 1968, Matthews dropped out of the UNC doctoral program in economics after one year to join the Peace Corps.

Tickets for the event are $75, and they’re available through Sept. 26. You can purchase them by calling 919-843-2026.


‘It’s Time To Welcome The Big-Box’

Chapel Hill developer Roger Perry says the Town has to strike while the iron is hot and not miss great tax-growth opportunities with its new development sites.

“Time and time again, we have rejected,” Perry says. “For example, at Obey Creek, we have the ability to bring a large retailer to town, and, to date, the Town has not shown the willingness to accept a 100,000 square foot-plus retailer. But they’ll come; they want to be here very much; they’ll definitely come.”

He says the Town should be welcoming commercial development with open arms, and if it does, the tax burden on it citizens will begin to subside.

Perry made these comments in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

Chapel Hill’s tax rates—city, county, and school taxes–support the city schools, free local busses, and social services, at the highest rate in North Carolina. Local government development policies have made Chapel Hill’s taxes on residences the highest percentage in the state, and commercial taxes the lowest. Orange County exports more retail spending to other counties than any county in the region. In a WCHL news special, Jim Heavner interviews Roger Perry, who has recently been more outspoken on those issues.

Perry, a Chapel Hillian, is the President of East West Partners Management Company, and since 1983 East West Partners has developed more residential real estate than any company in North Carolina. That includes Meadowmont, Downing Creek and East 54 here in Chapel Hill. He’s now trying to develop Obey Creek, so he’s a big player. Perry, a UNC graduate has also served as chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, and that is also a topic of the special interview.

***Listen to Part Two***

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Was Kennedy Shot By Accident?

CHAPEL HILL – Was John Kennedy shot by accident when Oswald was actually aiming at John Connally?

UNC Graduate and novelist James Reston, Jr. told WCHL’s Jim Heavner that, in the process of writing a book about Connally, he came across evidence that has persuaded him that it was hatred of Connally that drove Oswald to shoot on November 22, 1963.

Reston has now published another book, The Accidental Victim, which appeared in more detail and he explains it here for Jim Heavner in an interview that aired earlier this year on WCHL.

**Listen Below to the Full Interview**



CH/Carrboro Business HoF Inaugural Class To Be Inducted Wed.

CHAPEL HILL – The Chamber of Commerce is recognizing 12 individuals who have shaped our local business economy by honoring them Wednesday as the inaugural class of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Business Hall of Fame.

The special recognition was designated for individuals with a record of excellence in business management and entrepreneurship, as well as having a positive impact on the community during their careers.

The inaugural class of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Business Hall of Fame includes:

WCHL’s own Jim Heavner

Stein, Bill, and Jesse Basnight Sr. of S.h. Basnight & Sons, INC.

Michael Barefoot of Southern Season

Mildred Council of Mama Dip’s

Orville Camplbell of The Chapel Hill News

Ted and Edward Danziger of Restraunteurs

Mickey Ewell of Chapel Hill Restaurant Group

R.B. and Jenny Fitch of Fitch Creations

Mac Fitch of Fitch Lumber and Hardware

George Wattes Hill, Sr. of Central Carolina Bank

Frank Kenan of Kenan Oil and Kenan Transport

Mel Rashkis of Mel Rashkis & Associates


To honor the inaugural class, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce is hosting a black tie gala at the Carolina Inn, with the induction ceremony is set for 8:00 p.m.


The Rains, The Floods, The Trees And Us

In Chapel Hill, the rain’s a pain when it falls mainly all in one weekend.

Because our aptly named municipality is, sure enough, mostly on a hill, one might wonder why we have so many troubles with storms here. We do Pogo proud because we can find the culprit is in the mirror. Some of it we are changing; some, we would not have any other way.

All that water flows downhill where we once let folks pave and build. And on everywhere on the hill, we love our trees.

The intersection where Mallette meets Franklin Street, now the Chipotle intersection, but known to old timers as the Fowler’s Food Store intersection, was developed in the forties. We didn’t have many rules about storm water then.  That little swale always flooded.

When Bobby Fowler ran the family grocery, he discovered that kitty litter bags were the best flood “sand bags” that he would stack outside his doors! He was a big extrovert and everyone knew about Bobby and the kitty litter. The floods generally subsided pretty quickly and he would be open in a few hours. That was important because Fowler’s had a legendary walk-in beer cooler.

In the early sixties, the Karras brothers channeled Booker Creek into a culvert beneath what was to be their expanded Eastgate Shopping Center. Flood plains are great for AM radio towers, but not so good for that lovely strip that flooded again Sunday. The culvert overflowed , the water backed up to flood the bases of WCHL’s towers, the station’s signal got stronger but the building became a mess.

The times, they have been changing, but historically, the town allowed building in flood plains that, by last mid-century, enlightenment made controversial but not always prohibited. The Camelot Apartment project on Estes Drive across from University Mall was built in a flood plain and its building permit caused a stir from environmentalists at the time.

But, they went ahead.Camelot floods a lot.

The flooding in that area was exacerbated by the huge impervious surface of University Mall right across the road. The mall itself sits on a site that was once a hill. I lived near there at the time and watched them move that whole doggone hill that had been the site of a dairy.

We always wondered why they could not build a mall on a hill, but the North Hills company wanted it at street level. Bulldozers and backhoes moved that hill for about a year in daily convoys of dirt trucks filled to the brim. Many of us who were here remember its dust storms.

Things progressively changed, as the early lack of awareness and regulations gave way to an emerging realization that it’s not a good idea to build or pave things where it floods.  The rules are tougher and we hate it when they are tough on any of us who want to build something.

We have gotten better at it, but it’s part of the history we preserve.Have you noticed that everything in town is either paved or it’s a tree? Every impervious surface floods and soaks more of the soil that holds the trees.

And oh, my lord, what a love affair between the trees and us. In Chapel Hill’s old neighborhoods, they are called “leafy” for a reason.

We live in a town where tree hugging is a universally celebrated virtue. Of course, the older the tree, the bigger it is, the more we are reverentially, belligerently protective!

Alas, the older and bigger the tree, the more likely it is to fall when we have heavy rains. Trees fall, streets are blocked, power goes out and everyone is a grump except WCHL, which gets all those listeners who flock there in such emergencies.

There are remedies. This would be easy to fix. But, none of us wants to spend the money to put power lines underground. And we sure don’t want to cut those trees.  Unthinkable!

All of us watch the Duke Power tree trimmers with a guarded eye ready to argue with those good guys up in the bucket as the crews “butcher” our favorite trees. How insensitive!

Then, here comes the rains. When the ground is saturated, the trees fall and much of the town is out of power. Then, we call out the Duke Power crews for emergency repairs while we complain about how long it takes them. How slow!

That’s part of the life we live here. And as my departed old buddy Roland Giduz would opine when musing about our lovely local contradictions, “Ain’t it grand!”

Photo by @jdribo, Carrboro


Lampley Said 'See Ya!'

In the early 1970s, I worked for the Atlanta Constitution and heard a sportscaster named Beau Bock do commentaries on the radio and host what might have been the first sports talk show in America.

Bock was very informative and entertaining in his 2-minute daily diatribe and then he actually fielded phone calls and let people give him THEIR opinions on sports stuff. Brilliant, I thought.
A year or so later, I returned to North Carolina as the sports editor of the old Durham Morning Herald. I went to see my old friend Jim Heavner at WCHL, for whom I had been a reporter and correspondent in my days as a UNC student.
“Jim,” I began, “there’s this guy in Atlanta who does sports commentaries and then spends an hour on the air taking phone calls from sports fans who get all over the lousy Atlanta teams. It’s uproarious. You ought to do that on CHL”
Heavner rubbed his chin, as he’s been doing for most of the last 70 years, while in contemplation. Finally, he spoke.
“We’re the flagship station of the Tar Heels and people in Chapel Hill love sports,” he said. “We could do that . . . and I have the perfect person to do it.”
“You do?” I said, beginning to stick out my chest, hoping of course that perfect person was the person who suggested the shows.
“Jim Lampley,” Heavner said.
Lampley was, at the time, a journalism graduate student at Carolina and reporting on games and other sports news for the radio station, then located at the bottom of East Franklin Street across from Eastgate Mall.
“Lamp,” I said, deflated. “Great idea. He would be perfect.”
So, in 19974, Jim Lampley recorded a sports commentary that ran three or four times a day on the station. Being a Univac for sports facts, Lampley’s Sports Notebook was both hilarious and knowledgeable. He also hosted a weekly talk show called Sports Switchboard that was equally successful, with people from all over town calling Lamp to ask him questions and give their own take, mostly on the Tar Heels of Bill Dooley and Dean Smith.
I was busy putting out a daily sports section in Durham when I heard a rumor.

ABC-TV was conducting a national search to hire a couple of college-age sideline reporters to freshen up its football telecasts on Saturday afternoon. Bud Wilkinson, the former Oklahoma Hall of Fame football coach, had been the color commentator for years on ABC and the telecasts had become staid and boring.

Lampley and a young TV reporter from Philadelphia named Don Tollefson beat out hundreds of candidates to win the positions, and the UNC graduate student went from making $80 a week at the local radio station to earning $80,000 a year as ABC’s first sideline reporter. In his debut game , Lampley walked down the docks where the yachts park and party outside of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville before Tennessee games.
The Lampley story went on from there, as Jim called virtually every sporting event for ABC, NBC and CBS in his own hall of fame broadcasting career. He later became the voice of boxing for HBO and now has his own special on the history of the controversial sport. He was one of many national and regional stars (Charles Kuralt, George Hamilton IV, Bob Holiday and Warren Levinson, to name a few) to get their start at the little AM radio station at the bottom of the hill.
Oh, by the way, Heavner called me after Lampley left for ABC job and asked if I wanted to take over Sports Notebook and Sports Switchboard – for I think $10 a week. I said yes, happily, and did both shows through the mid-1980s. In the last two years, I’ve returned to WCHL to resume Sports Notebook.
On my first commentary back in 1975, I ended it with the phrase “See ya.” The station manager at the time complimented me on the Sports Notebook but told me to lose the “See ya”. After my second commentary without the sign-off, Heavner said, “What happened to the “See ya”. I told him what had happened.
“It’s great, it will become your trademark, put it back in,” he said. So back it went and, as you know if you listen at 7:30, 8:30 and other times during the day, it is still there as WCHL celebrates its 60th birthday.
“This is Art Chansky . . . see ya!”


Division 1 Revenue Sports, the Daily Tar Heel, and the Mission of UNC

Kudos to WCHL and Jim Heavner for his thoughtful interview with Bubba Cunningham, the Director of Athletics at UNC.  These athletics scandals have harmed the entire UNC community, so they demand that we ask difficult questions and challenge the often mis-guided assumptions about the role of Division 1 athletics in a great research university. 

Of the many assertions made by Mr. Cunningham, for now I would like to address one, his justifying the limited involvement of revenue sports athletes in the broader life of the university.  He drew an inaccurate analogy between a Daily Tar Heel reporter and an athlete to make his point.  Mr. Cunningham’s error stems from a mis-reading or mis-understanding of the mission of UNC, to advance scholarship, research, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of students. 

A legitimate criticism of Division 1 sports, especially the revenue sports of football and basketball, is that the demands of training, practice, and games make it virtually impossible for many, if not most, to engage in the diverse cultural and social life that is central to a college education. 

Indeed, as the scandals have revealed, the demands on these athletes, sadly, too often make it difficult to engage in the core academic activities as well.  How do the demands on athletes in the revenue sports advance the mission of UNC?  I’d like somebody to explain that to me. 

In stark contrast, the Daily Tar Heel reporter is fully immersed in the mission of the university, even if she or he takes classes only in the morning and works for the Tar Heel from noon until midnight.  The mission of the Daily Tar Heel is to pursue all news of the University; to set the standard for the journalism industry; to serve as a learning laboratory for young journalists, etc. 

Those fortunate enough to work for the Tar Heel develop skills that advance scholarship, research, and creativity.  The same could be said for our students in the arts who can be found at all hours on the stage or in their performance studios. 

I encourage Mr. Cunningham to speak with Don Oeler of the Chapel Hill Philarmonia, Emil Kang of Carolina Performing Arts or Joseph Haj of Playmakers about how their programs advance the mission of the university.

To sustain vibrant cultures and nations, universities are too important and too fragile to engage in ventures that are not strongly aligned with their missions.

Happy Boss Day to Chapelboro Bosses

It’s tough to be a boss.  Today is a good time to thank those who have taken on the challenge.
So – Happy Boss Day – to all Chapelboro bosses.

It’s  also a good day for bosses to remind themselves of the duty they  have  to work at becoming better bosses. A good way to do this is to observe other bosses  in action. Not just on Boss Day – this is year round work.  Here are a few good Chapelboro bosses that I’ve observed and written about in recent years.

By the way, I highly doubt that these bosses are (or were) good bosses every minute of every day. More likely it occurred (or occurs) in bits and bites. And it seems to be about…well…read these stories and see what you think. And then – will you add a story or two about bosses you’ve admired?

1.. Chancellor William Aycock – Chancellor at Carolina  from 1957-1964.  

Chancellor Aycock commanded great respect.
Find out how  in: Kudos to Chancellor Bill Aycock.

2.  Basnight Sons & Daughter - Owners of S.H. Basnight & Sons.

SH Basnight & Sons was founded 87 years ago by Stein Basnight and is now run by two of his grandchildren, Jesse Basnight Jr and Terry Hamlet. 
Their secrets to success?
 Eight great ones are revealed in Basnight Family Secrets.  
Secrets 5-8 in particular are outstanding reminders for bosses everywhere.

3.  Bill Blackman & Jim Sloop – Founders of Blackman & Sloop, CPAs, P.A.

Bill Blackman and Jim Sloop were good at hiring, training  and coaching people; and making them feel good about the work they were doing.  Evidence of this?  Many current staff members have been there twenty, even thirty plus years.  Read more in Secrets of Success from Blackman & Sloop.

4.  .  Chris Derby – Owner of two UPS Stores.

A visit to mail packages at one of Chris’ stores made me curious. 
What were his secrets to success?
UPS Stores Do Good Business reveals secrets shared by Chris and his team.
And demonstrates one of the most important reminders for bosses everywhere.

5.  Coach Larry Fedora – Head Football Coach at Carolina.

Coach Fedora is high on energy, has high expectations and he makes them clear to players, coaches, fans – all stakeholders.  Find out how in Good Business Fedora Style.

6.  Mac Fitch - Owner of Fitch Lumber Company.

Fitch Lumber Company is 104 years old, the oldest business in town. 
Freddy Foust has worked there for 27 of those years. When asked why he has stayed at Fitch for 27 years, Freddy’s immediate answer was “Mac Fitch”.  
Hmm – sounds like a good boss to study. Read more in Fitch Family Secrets.

7.. Berkeley Grimball – Owner of Grimball Jewelers.

Like many bosses, Berkeley has learned to be one through the school of hard knocks.  Read  great messages from him on the importance of: communication, systems, crisis management, role definition, delegation, persistence and passion in The Shining of Grimball Jewelers.

8.  Joe Hakan- Architect for the Dean Smith Center.

Most bosses think they make their expectations clear. Most people reporting to them disagree.   This disconnect causes much discord. 
In Great Expectations at the Dean Dome,  learn how  Joe cut off potential discord by making expectations clear from the start.

9. Jim Heavner, Kay Norris & Bob Woodruff – The Village Companies (now known as VilCom).

From 18 years of working with these three, I can tell you that they are stellar bosses in many ways.  The aspect I wrote about most recently was their commitment to professional development.  You can read about it in Mess in the Middle.

10.  Al Jeter – Manager of UNC Surplus Store.

Al sets a positive, high energy  atmosphere.   Team members seem to know what is expected.  They jump in a help without Al saying a word.  You can read more about it in Furniture & More for Less.

11.  Matt Lawrence – Chapel Hill Fire Department.

Here’s another boss making his expectations clear AND keeping everyone posted on progress. 

12. Chancellor Carlyle Sitterson – Chancellor at Carolina from 1966-1972.

Being a good boss during peaceful times is hard enough. 
Even in tumultuous times, Chancellor Sitterson got kudos for being a good boss. 

13.   Roger Stancil –  Town Manager, Town of Chapel Hill

Bosses need to be in charge, take a stand and often make unpopular decisions.   Sometimes they get stuck in that mode and forget that they don’t have all the information and answers.    And sometimes employees are scared to offer information and solutions to the boss, so encouragement is needed.
Roger encouraged input with his  “If I were boss” program.  Read about it Good Business by the Town of Chapel Hill.

14. Ray Austin –  Former manager of Western Auto.

In just two words, Ray Austin sent a strong career lesson to 15 year old Mick Mixon.
It’s a message all bosses need to hear. Read and listen to Mick in Kudos to Ray Austin .


What do you appreciate about a current or former boss?

Write it in comments section below or send to Jan@Chapelboro.com
And what about you? 

  • Are you a boss? 
  • What makes you a really good boss?
  • What could make you better? 
  • Will you adopt a strategy or two from one of the above bosses do or did?
Note:  You can find additional ideas for leadership and team development in this eeek-book designed especially for October.