RUTHERFORDTON — For the past 38 years WCAB radio station (100.9 FM and 590 AM) owner Jim Bishop has diligently awakened at 4:30 a.m. each weekday. He’s arrives at the small Whitesides Road station by an hour later and without fail at 6:05 a.m. cheerfully brings a heartfelt and optimistic greeting to thousands of loyal listeners in Rutherford County.
The Bishop’s signature greeting is:
“Good Morning Rutherford County, it’s another great getting up morning here in the foothills! Welcome to the Morning Wake-Up Call.”
This news and commentary program has been continuous for more than 17,500 episodes even pre-dating Bishop’s days making it one of the longest running programs in western North Carolina.
A long and distinguished radio career took Bishop to Greer and Spartanburg, South Carolina where he was the late night disc jockey. From there Forrest Hunt called him to teach for Rutherford County schools at Proctor and Caroleen for two years. This was followed by a period of military service in the United States Air Force. It was there Jim had opportunities to work part time in radio in both Georgia and the far reaches of Anchorage, Alaska.
Upon completing his military obligations, Bishop returned to Rutherford County and was employed at WBBO AM-FM in Forest City for 10 years before signing on as a sought after trainer with Dale Carnegie courses.
North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin soon after invited Bishop to head up his Western Office of the Governor in Asheville in 1985. It was in that political season of life Charles Melton offered to sell WCAB to Bishop. He accepted the offer and a broadcasting adventure began.
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From that point the now silver haired “voice of the county” effortlessly moved from behind the microphone to sitting behind his desk listening to many listeners and friends who have walked through the front door knowing a friendly face and listening ear awaits.
In announcing his retirement and the imminent sale of the station Bishop said, “It’s bitter sweet. I will miss everybody, the staff, the clients, and the big family of listeners. While I still have energy and clarity of mind I believe it’s time to see what else is out there. Thanks everybody. I love you.”
Upon final approval with the FCC, Fowler Media, of Charleston, South Carolina will become the new owners of WCAB. Last year, Todd Fowler, Brian Lilly and Kevin Lilly’s Skyline Media Holdings, LLC acquired WBRM in nearby Marion, which is broadcast on 1250 AM and W280FP 103.9 FM.
Bishop says the sale of WCAB should take about three months. In the meantime, he will continue his programs and assist in an orderly and community honoring transition which will build on the staff team in place while seeing new support take a dependable source of news, community updates and commentary to even greater heights.
“There’s not really another Jim Bishop in our county,” said Butch Maltby, co-host of “My Great America with Jim and Butch. “His wisdom, perspective, tenacity, faith and compassionate heart continue to be a beacon of light to so many. His work in local media has left a high standard for all who follow.”
Bishop announced his impending retirement on the air Tuesday. Followers may have also read it Tuesday or today (Wednesday) in the station’s monthly publication.