The vertical integration of mass media makes local radio personalities less the norm than they once were, but in Richmond, we still have a few. Here are three whose voices are part of our regional on-air culture.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, State Capitol Reporter and Political Contributor
A Jamestown High School graduate, Craig Carper attended the University of North Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but returned to Virginia in 2001. He started working as a production assistant at WWBT-NBC12, where his enjoyment of writing led to a print journalism degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006, followed by a jump to WCVE-FM.
He covered the administration of Gov. Tim Kaine, then left on-air news for a year, working behind the scenes on WCVE's Capitol Events program, booking and writing, though producer Craig Keeton often had to instruct Carper to be quieter.
"I have a voice that carries," he admits. He returned to political reporting in 2008.
He says of his three- to five-minute features, "I try to give the truest representation possible and a good, condensed version of what happened today."
Ian Stewart, host of The World Music Show on WCVE
Eight years ago, Ian Stewart came here from San Francisco-Oakland public media, first holding the overnight shift at WCVE and subbing as needed. He always wanted to try a contemporary world music program.
Stewart credits Bobbie Barajas, who left WCVE in January, for mentoring him on his first show, a two-hour program using his and his wife's, combined collection of French, Japanese and African music. The station owned little music of that type, and Stewart's The World Music Show was born. "Funny thing was, once I went on the air, people started bringing me CDs — ‘I heard you, and it's good, try this.' "
While global, his view is also "glocal," in that he'll play regional world-music-influenced groups, including Bio Ritmo, Rattlemouth and Ban Caribé. "My library has grown, and so has the station's," Stewart says. His show airs at 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Gene Pembleton, host of British Breakfast on WRIR
Lifelong Anglo-audiophile Gene Pembleton's British Breakfast program, airing on WRIR Low Power FM from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays, started on the Internet in a basement studio before WRIR made it to the actual airwaves, and it was the first program on when the signal went into the atmosphere in 2005 with "Around the Dial" by The Kinks. He signed on with co-host Jessica Reilly (an XTC fan), but he's currently assisted by Carmen Ann Jones, who hails from Manchester, England.
He combs the Internet looking for unsigned bands who are surprised to receive contact from a show host in the United States. "They'll ask, ‘How the hell did you find me?' " Pembleton says.
Pembleton envisions the show as being back in college, with friends in his dorm room, "and I'm turning them on to this new band I've heard."