New radio station featuring classic country music to broadcast from Black Mountain

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
A new radio station, 96.1 The Bear, will soon broadcast out of Town Hardware & General Store in downtown Black Mountain.

The Swannanoa Valley will soon have a radio station all its own.

The new station, 96.1 The Bear, will broadcast out of Town Hardware & General Store in downtown Black Mountain. Station manager Brian Seabold said the station will broadcast out of the Elvis Suite in the co-working space in the upstairs portion of the building.

Seabold said he and station owner Billy Blevins came across the space after walking around downtown Black Mountain and talking with an employee of Town Hardware & General Store who connected them with the owner.

Blevins owns a radio station in Statesville that Seabold also manages. Seabold said that station is also in the downtown area, and it is important to them to continue to broadcast from a similar location.

“We like to be downtown,” Seabold said. “We want to be downtown. We want to be in the middle of everything. It’s very important for us.”

He said the Elvis Suite is currently in renovations to be able to host a radio station, but work should be done and the station should start broadcasting within the next two weeks.

The station will specialize in classic country music with the likes of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and more. Seabold said listeners will not hear any “new country,” but can instead expect “country that everybody knows and everybody likes.”

In addition to country music, which is already being broadcast on the station, Seabold said listeners can expect to hear from town and community leaders. He said Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, has been invited to come on the station twice a month. Seabold said they will also invite the police and fire chiefs and town manager to come speak.

Blevins said he wanted to start a radio station from Black Mountain for Black Mountain because there is a lack of electronic media that caters to small towns.

“Most of the electronic media like radio and TV, things like that, are located in the large cities, the larger communities, and they’re not really pinpointing a particular community like Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Montreat,” Blevins said. “That’s what we bring … a sense of community to the area where they have their own radio station now.”

He said he chose Black Mountain because of the community and art that comes from the town. Blevins said at the Statesville station they host live music, and many artists come from the Black Mountain and Asheville area.

“Black Mountain has always been a really great community for not just tourists, but for arts and music,” Blevins said. “Hopefully this will all turn out to be a great adventure.”

Both Blevins and Seabold said they are eager to start broadcasting from Black Mountain and becoming a part of the community.

“Everybody in Black Mountain has just been fabulous and very welcoming,” Seabold said. “We’re just really excited to get up there and get to work.”