Habitat for Humanity ReStore Celebrates Seventh Birthday

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore off of 15-501 celebrated its seventh birthday last week, with raffles and discounts in their store and a birthday celebration on Friday. The store operates on donations of furniture, which are resold for low prices. The proceeds are then used to build houses for families in need in Durham and Orange County.

The birthday event on Friday included a cake donated by Kimmi’s Confection Expressions, a professional cake-decorating service located in Durham, close to the ReStore. In an interview with WCHL on Monday, Kimwa Walker, the business’ owner, discussed the cake donation.

“Because we’re such a fixture in the Durham and Chapel Hill community, we like to partner with community staples such as the ReStore. They’ve done so very much for Habitat for Humanity and for the [community],” said Walker. “We were delighted when we were invited to celebrate with them, because we love community partnerships. It was a privilege and an honor to be able to donate this cake to them to celebrate such a huge milestone for the [ReStore].”

WCHL’s Ron Stutts broadcasted live from the ReStore’s birthday celebration on Friday. Photos from the events are above.

Habitat ReStore communications manager Caitlyn West discussed the store’s seventh anniversary of officially coming under the Habitat for Humanity brand. Previously, the store operated similarly but independently from Habitat for Humanity.

“It was a very surreal moment, watching shoppers take pictures on their phones and sing along with the staff,” said West. “Months of hard work was finally coming to an end and it all turned out much better than I could have ever imagined.”

West also explained the goals of the weeklong celebration.

“Our overall goal was to reach a lucky 777 donated items,” West said. “Without donations, we wouldn’t have shoppers who make our daily operations possible. [They also] helped us reach our yearlong goal of building seven Habitat homes for seven families in honor of our seventh year as a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We exceeded our weeklong goal by reaching a lucky 902 donated items.”

The ReStore concluded their birthday week with 25% off couches on Saturday, July 2. The store will be celebrating its eighth birthday next year.


Ron Stutts Wins NCAB Broadcast Personality of the Year for Third Time

WCHL’s Ron Stutts was presented with the 2016 Radio Personality of the Year Award in a Non-Metro market by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters this week. The award has been given three times and he has won all three.

Stutts accepted the award at the NCAB Convention, held on June 14 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

For Radio Personality of the Year, one award is given in each market – Large, Medium and Non-Metro. Criteria for judging include such things as writing, story approach, on-air presence, creativity, effectiveness and delivery. The judges, who are broadcasters from the Maryland/DC area, made their selection based on audio excerpts taken from 2015.

“It is such an honor to win this award,” Stutts said. “I am flattered and humbled. I’ve been doing this a long time, and it means a lot that my colleagues appreciate what I do. And I like to think that what I do makes a difference in people’s lives. I love my job and this is an amazing community.”Ron-Stutts-by-ZoePictures-web-7

Stutts started as the WCHL Morning News host on July 11, 1977. This summer he will celebrate waking up Chapel Hill-Carrboro for 39 years.

Ron can be heard from six until nine o’clock every weekday morning on 97.9 FM/1360 AM and streaming live on chapelboro.com.

In addition, he is often heard covering breaking news, weather and sports events at any and all times of the day. On football Saturdays, Ron can be seen and heard at a local establishment hosting Countdown to Kickoff. He is also an integral part of WCHL’s award-winning Carolina basketball coverage.

Outside the walls of WCHL, he can also be seen emceeing a myriad of community events all year long, including the Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Kenan Stadium.


WCHL Selected as NCAB Radio Station of the Year

WCHL 1360 AM/97.9 FM was presented with the 2016 Award for Radio Station of the Year in a Non-Metro Market during the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Convention, held on June 14 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

One NCAB award is given to a radio station in each market – Large, Medium and Non-Metro.

Criteria for the judging process included highlights and achievements during 2015, innovative programming and revenue generation, audience involvement and promotion, commitment to the community and hurdles encountered and how they were overcome. The judges, who are broadcasters from the Maryland/DC area, made their selection based on audio excerpts taken from 2015 as well as information and letters of commendation from listeners and sponsors.WCHL Logo

Jan Bolick, WCHL’s General Manager said when accepting the award, “It would be an honor to win this award in any year. But for two reasons, it’s an especially huge honor for 2015.

“First, even with much change, including station ownership, the WCHL team continued with business as usual – better than usual – a 24/7 commitment to inform, entertain and connect the Chapelboro community. It’s quite amazing what this team accomplished in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty. And quite inspiring that our listeners, readers and partners supported us the entire way.

“Second, the award is a fabulous tribute to the late Sandy McClamroch and Jim Heavner, former owners of WCHL. Sandy started the station in 1953. Jim arrived in 1958 as a student announcer and eventually became the owner. Over the 63-year period of their ownership, they established a culture of unquestionable commitment to the community. No matter what – stay committed to the community.

“Sandy and Jim also provided a place for people to learn and grow – many who continued in radio. People like Charles Kuralt, Jim Lampley, Ty Boyd, Bob Holliday, Mick Mixon and many others.

“What a gift Sandy and Jim gave to WCHL, the Chapelboro community and the broadcasting industry. Sandy passed away a few months ago. Jim’s connection with the station ended in 2015 with the ownership transfer. We thank NCAB for a very special way to honor Sandy and Jim and the end of a truly great era in broadcasting.

“And for a special way to celebrate a team that has done great things and is always looking for ways to do what they do even better.”


WCHL & Chapelboro Moving to University Place

WCHL radio is moving to a new space at University Place on South Estes Drive, after 14 years at its location off Weaver Dairy Road.

WCHL Owners

Left to Right: Jim Kitchen, Leslie Rudd, Chris Ehrenfeld

The station was purchased last August by California and Colorado-based businessman Leslie Rudd, a former homeowner in Chapel Hill. He brought in Chris Ehrenfeld, Jim Kitchen and Mark Vitali as local co-owners. Operating as Chapel Hill Media Group, they want to make the 63-year-old radio station and its website – Chapelboro.com – more visible in the community.

“One way to accomplish that is to physically be more visible,” WCHL general manager Jan Bolick said. “The new space is in the middle of a vibrant commercial, shopping and recreation area, where people can walk by and see the station in operation through the big front windows.”

Chapel Hill Media Group has received its building permit from the town and up-fitting has started. The space will include three recording studios and space for news, sports, operations and advertising departments. The ample parking at University Place will be more convenient for visitors and guests.

“We are very excited about moving the station into the middle of the action,” said Ehrenfeld. “As the heartbeat of this community, we want to be where everyone can actually see us in operation and drop by to visit.”

Ron Stutts, who has hosted the morning show for 39 years is thrilled about the move. “I love the idea of seeing our listeners at University Place as they walk by when we’re on the air. This is such a great new location which will allow us to connect even more with our local community.”

The move is scheduled for the end of August.


WCHL Community Forum on Tuesday

The 2016 WCHL Community Forum is slated to begin at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning to kick off a 10-hour live broadcast of panels discussing issues impacting our community.

The marathon will begin with the Town & Gown panel with UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens, and chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners Earl McKee. The panel will discuss major issues that intersect the university and different municipalities operating within Orange County.

Throughout the day we will discuss issues including K-12 and Higher Education, Transit, Development and what can be done to make Chapel Hill more attractive for young professionals.

You can listen in for panel discussions through six o’clock Tuesday evening and submit questions live during the forum with #WCHLFoum on twitter


WCHL Founder, Former Chapel Hill Mayor Sandy McClamroch Passes Away at 90

Roland “Sandy” McClamroch died on Wednesday afternoon at his home in the Carol Woods retirement community, according to family members.

McClamroch founded WCHL and put the station on the air in 1953.

He also served as Chapel Hill Mayor for eight years from 1961 – 1969.

McClamroch founded the Carol Woods retirement community and was its first president.

McClamroch was one of the most influential members of the Chapel Hill – Carrboro community in the ’50s and ’60s, when he also founded the Chapel Hill – Carrboro Jaycees.

McClamroch was inducted into the Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2013.

Former WCHL owner Jim Heavner, who started at WCHL working for McClamroch, described McClamroch’s leadership style as “quiet and inclusive” and credited his ability to “listen carefully to everyone and create consensus wherever possible” during a time when protests and demonstrations were  part of the norm in Chapel Hill and around the country.

The funeral service will be held at two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, April 5, at University Presbyterian Church.

McClamroch was 90 years old.

Listen below to Heavner reflecting on McClamroch with WCHL’s Ron Stutts:


Jim Heavner contributed to this report.


Rudd Media Takes Over WCHL and Chapelboro, Announces New Local Ownership Group of Four

 CHAPEL HILL, NC – Rudd Media, LLC, has closed on ownership of WCHL Radio and Chapelboro.com, and principal Mr. Leslie Rudd has announced a partnership agreement with four local businessmen who have formed an owner/operator group that has bought into the two local media properties, pending their approval by the FCC.

Chris Ehrenfeld, Jim Kitchen, Mark Vitali and Aaron Wright, together with Rudd, own 100 percent of the AM/FM radio station and website that serves the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and surrounding communities and is the flagship station of the Tar Heel Sports Network.

Jim Kitchen spoke with WCHL’s Ron Stutts on the WCHL Morning News. Listen Below:


Leslie Rudd

Leslie Rudd on new WCHL local ownership group: “This was the plan I hoped would take place.”

“This was the plan I hoped would take place,” Rudd said after accepting the offer made by the group. “In our other investments, we depend heavily on local ownership that knows the market and is well-known and respected. Each new owner has an impressive record of professional accomplishment in his own right and together will make an outstanding leadership team.”

Ehrenfeld owns Domicile Realty and Bold Construction in Chapel Hill. The Pittsburgh native graduated from UNC and remained in the area to build his business portfolio. Domicile Realty, which owns Governors Club Realty, lists and sells commercial and residential property, and Bold Construction builds custom homes and develops unique commercial space in Orange and Chatham Counties. Ehrenfeld and his wife Jana have twin sons, Max and Mason, three years old.

Kitchen arrived in Chapel Hill as a UNC student in 1982 and built and sold a successful travel company that was headquartered on Franklin Street. After receiving a Masters in Management and MBA, he now teaches entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler Business School and works tirelessly to improve the community. He started the business incubators LaUNCh Chapel Hill and 1789 in 2013. Kitchen and his wife Susan have two children, Kenan, 16, and Karsen, 12.

Vitali moved to Chapel Hill in 1982 with his wife Fai and, since 1993, has amassed one of the largest Nationwide Insurance businesses in the United States. Vitali currently owns ten agencies in Burlington, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Eden, Graham, Hillsborough and Raleigh. He speaks across the country on how to build a business from the ground up. Vitali also owns and develops commercial properties. Their son Nick, 25, works for Nationwide corporate.

New WCHL owners

From Left to Right: Jim Kitchen, Aaron Wright, Mark Vitali, Chris Ehrenfeld

Wright is from Franklinton, NC, and a second-generation UNC alumnus. He is a graduate of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and has started two different healthcare companies, building successful sales teams and organizations. Wright and his wife Lisa have three children, Peyton, 14, Cole, 11, and Lyndon, 10. He has served on the UNC Board of Visitors, the Eshelman School Foundation Board and, like his new partners, is an avid Tar Heel fan.

The current WCHL and Chapelboro staff will continue day-to-day operation of the radio station and website, which will also be airing and publishing news and feature stories, columns and commentaries from all of their regular and part-time contributors.

As long-time WCHL listeners, the local ownership group knows the value of the radio station to the community and said its goal is to improve programming and service with the help of feedback from the public. Comments and suggestions are welcomed by emailing WeListen@wchl.com.




New WCHL Owner on Station’s Future

Leslie Rudd is a Colorado-based entrepreneur and philanthropist with Chapel Hill ties, who will also be the new owner of WCHL and Chapelboro.com, once the final administrative hurdles are cleared.

WCHL has a history of serving Orange County that dates back to 1953.

READ MORE: New Owner Announced for WCHL and Chapelboro

Rudd says he is excited to continue the work of WCHL and Chapelboro, as one of the few remaining commercial radio stations in the country with a mission of serving the local community.

“We are very excited about owning WCHL and Chapelboro.com in a community that is near and dear to my heart. There have been some questions about the new ownership, and what we plan to do with the station and website, which are unique properties in a vibrant college town. Although we do not officially take over until the FCC license transfer is complete and the actual sale closes, our plans are to continue to serve the community with informative, entertaining and educational programming and content, much like it has in the past.

“Our business model when acquiring an existing company is to keep the operation in place and help the staff get even better at what they are doing as we go along. In some cases, we have brought in partners that make up a local ownership group, and we are exploring that option with WCHL. Of course, we will continue to carry the Tar Heel games and cover high school sports and have Ron Stutts in the morning and Aaron Keck in the afternoon. In my years having a home in Chapel Hill, I met so many wonderful people and still have great friends there. I know how much having their own dedicated radio station means to them, and that is what they will continue to have.”

READ MORE: New Bidders Vie for WCHL


1953 Roland “Sandy” McClamroch begins WCHL as a daytime operation with 1,000 watts at 1360 AM

1958 Jim Heavner joins WCHL as a part time summer announcer

1967 Heavner purchases first interest in WCHL from then Mayor McClamroch

1978 Heavner purchases McClamroch remaining ownership, owns 100%

1993 Curtis Media purchases WCHL

2002 Heavner buys WCHL back from Curtis

2009 Barry Leffler buys controlling interest in WCHL from Heavner

2011 WCHL establishes Chapelboro.com, a community news and feature website

2012 WCHL adds FM translator at 97.9FM

2014 Heavner repurchases Leffler interest when he leaves for Dallas role with Tenet Health Care, places it in VilCom.  WCHL is offered for sale.

2015 Leslie Rudd purchases WCHL


New Bidders Vie For WCHL

Editor’s Note: This story corrects an earlier version on this story that was in error in reporting that Bob Woodruff and Jim Heavner were part of VIM Acquisitions, LLC.   It was formed solely by Mr. Holmes.

Multiple offers were put in to buy WCHL and Chapelboro out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, on Thursday.

A court-appointed trustee will review the bids and make a recommendation to a judge on Friday, who is scheduled to approve the recommendation on Tuesday.

WCHL principal owner Jim Heavner said in an e-mail to staff that:

“My goal is clear: to have the best offer we can get from a buyer who will carry on WCHL’s community service and local programming.“

The following statement was released regarding the situation:

VilCom Interactive Media (VIM) has new ownership bidders, including a surprise bid on the eve of its being taken out of Chapter 11 by its current owners, which was planned for yesterday. VIM, part of VilCom, and the owner of WCHL and Chapelboro.com, is one of several entities that was caught up in the Chapter 11 filing of sister company University Directories (UD) last fall.

As part of the unwinding process, University Directories was successfully sold in April, but the litigation with Greg Lindberg, Eli Global and UDX, continues. The Print Shop, another part of the company, was acquired by VilCom partners Jim Heavner and Bob Woodruff last month.

Now, VIM, a sister company under the VilCom umbrella, is being sold. In this case, WCHL owners are both purchasers and sellers.

Several companies had indicated an interest in acquiring VIM. Out of that process, VIM Acquisitions, LLC, a new company was formed by Edward Holmes, a WCHL investor.  Homes had come to an agreement with its trustee, attorney Rett Saslow of Greensboro, for its purchase to keep ownership local and that was to have been submitted to the bankruptcy court.

But, an unanticipated offer came in at the end of the day from Leslie Rudd Living Trust. He was unknown to the sellers and the court. It was comparable to the VIM Acquisitions offer, in that it was better in some respects and not as good in others.

As a result, the bankruptcy administrators, supported by attorneys for UD, recommended each buyer would have 48 hours—until today— to put the bids into a common form, with $100,000 security deposit, and that a bidding contest among the qualified buyers will take place tomorrow in the offices of attorney John Northen, whom Heavner had chosen to represent UD in the bankruptcy filing.

The trustee will submit the winning bid to the judge, who should approve it Tuesday.


Jersey Mike’s Hosting Fundraiser Today

Head to Jersey Mike’s Subs on Elliott Road or at Chapel Hill North on MLK Blvd. on Thursday, and 25 percent of your purchase will go to a local man who is raising money for medical care. Kevin Schaefer has spinal muscular atrophy and that’s cost him most of the use of his arms. He’s trying to raise $50,000 for a JACO Robotic Arm. Schaefer joined WCHL’s Ron Stutts Thursday morning, along with local Jersey Mike’s co-owner Brendan Turk. Here his story below: