Joe Kendrick of WNCW
May 30, 2007
Joe Kendrick probably doesn’t even know how influential he’s been to a whole generation of North Carolina musicians with his Alternative Radio Coalition Over Night giving radio exposure to local bands as well as letting people hear what was going on in underground music across the country.
Name: Joe Kendrick
Projects: WNCW (music director, various programs), Southern Songs & Stories
Websites: wncw.org, www.southernsongsandstories.com
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to work on the radio?
Joe – It was the first time I walked into a radio station. At the age of around 13, I was at Camp Broadstone in Valle Crucis, which was affiliated with ASU. We would go to campus for excursions to labs & such & one day we visited the radio station there. It was galvanizing. I knew immediately that radio was the coolest thing in the world. I remember listening to the station in the bus on the way out on my lovely red Sony Walkman, & Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” was playing. It wasn’t like this was a surprise to me. I had always been fascinated with songs & my mom recently told me that I had talked about music at the age of 3. She said that I had listened to a Paul McCartney song on the radio (probably “Live & Let Die” or “Jets” I would bet) & was excited to ask her & my dad if they knew Paul had been in a band before Wings.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your radio career?
Joe – Things have accelerated now since I made radio my full-time job. Being a morning host at a well listened to station is a joy. Putting a special mix of music along with my own commentary to become part of people’s lives is what motivates me. Being a positive influence, in ways that I cannot know, is a large motivator. It all started at WXYC, though, & I would be nowhere without that experience. The people there taught me so much & made me improve myself from day one. I still talk about XYC to my colleagues, & especially trainees, all the time.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Joe – I always knew that I would want to be a dad but can’t recall any sort of conscious declaration of the sort. When Amy & I married we knew that children were on the horizon & we just let things take their course.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Joe – Amy is my main source of feedback on my shows & inspires me to keep her “in the mix” daily. I can’t think of a negative.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Joe – My mental health is much better now that I’m doing what I love. My schedule is a little insane for most people as I rise at 4 in the morning, but that’s not too much off from the rhythm that our little boys keep. So far this career doesn’t pay well at all, but we’re not in trouble financially because of it ... yet.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you listen to?
Joe – I sometimes pick up on children’s songs, but by far still keep the same habits of lugging around a mail crate of CDs which dominates my time.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Joe – It’s the same story since the dawn of civilization, isn’t it? We do things for love or money, & seldom do they meet. If it comes down to it I *will* take the safe job with comfy salary & benefits, which is entirely too feasible.
QRD – Do you think being a father or working at the radio station has a greater impact on your community?
Joe – I can make an impact on my children in a much deeper & lasting way than I can to a broad but very temporary audience. My children will be able to make their mark on the world in ways I can’t imagine. I doubt that my radio shows will have as profound an effect on society as my children can, but that’s one for history to sort out. However, you never know what influence you may have on strangers. I could influence some listener not to do something rash, for example. I could say something that spurs someone to go out & find out their true path. This is a great question.
QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or a parent?
Joe – Argh, it’s only one or the other??! I want great music more than most anything, but I know that I’ll want grandchildren more & more in time.
QRD – Both family & reviewing music for the station seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Joe – Family is foremost; but music takes up a good third of the day or more, mostly more. I wind up like most parents & work from the time I wake up until either the time I go to bed or pass out on the couch reading or watching TV.
QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a DJ?
Joe – I only have a couple of bad habits, which I try to keep at bay.
QRD – What do your children think of the music you listen to?
Joe – Benjamin is two & Elijah is three months, so Benjamin is the only one we can gauge now. He loves to dance to syncopated jazz rhythms, for example. I am always wanting to know what he reacts to. Yesterday Amy told me that he liked Woody Guthrie’s “Car Song”.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Joe – Don’t feel pressured to do things in life just because someone tells you it’s about time that you did them. Do follow your heart & be willing to sacrifice for what is your ultimate goal. Be true to yourself & make it a priority to find your goal if you don’t already know.
QRD – 2015 update - any new insight from eight more years of fatherhood?
Other QRD interviews with Joe Kendrick: