Broadcaster Carl Ford off to fast start on commission
By Jessie Burchette
It’s 4:30 a.m. and Carl Ford isn’t waiting for any phone call.
He’s up and headed for Jimmy’s Restaurant in China Grove for breakfast.
His workday starts with a stop in Kannapolis at WRKB radio station. Then on to WRNA on Patterson Street in China Grove. He takes the stations off the automated systems and starts live broadcasting. The AM stations simulcast and are online.
Ford’s first radio job was at the Kannapolis station WRKB, which was owned by then-U.S. Rep. Bill Hefner. At the time Ford had no idea Hefner owned it.
Employees joked it took an act of Congress to get anything done. Ford learned Hefner owned the station about the time an employee had to call Washington to get the OK to buy a $12 needle for a turntable.
These days, Ford just has to convince his wife, Angela, the co-owner and bookkeeper, when he wants to spend money.
By 6 a.m., Ford takes to the air, talking about national, state and local issues. He mixes in news, commentary, Southern Gospel and some fun items like “Bozo Criminal News.”
These days, it’s tough for him to blast county government. A newly elected commissioner, he’s also chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
During his several runs for the office, Federal Communication Commission rules banned him from discussing local issues for 90 days prior to the elections.
Ford doesn’t have to ask anyone about their concerns. He hears them every day.
Everybody is asking when the county is going to lower their property valuations.
A conservative Republican, Ford is willing to give Barack Obama a chance but is skeptical. “He was the most liberal member of the Senate.”
After two or three hours live on the air, Ford’s real work begins.
As president of Ford Broadcasting, jointly owned by him and his wife, Angela, he’s also salesman-in-chief.
Much of his day is spent selling advertisements. These days, it’s tough as retailers and all businesses are struggling.
“Business is off 30 percent. We had one car dealer, they went off,” Ford said. “The Wonders saved us. People in Kannapolis get excited about the Wonders. Their run in the playoffs helped us big time.”
Many local businesses bought ads to show their support for the A.L. Brown football team in its bid for a state championship.
After a few hours calling on businesses, he heads for his second job.
Most days he puts in several afternoon hours at the County Administrative Office Building.
Two years ago, when he first made the November ballot, Ford worked out a plan to give him time to be a commissioner. “I had everything in place, but I wasn’t figuring on being chairman.”
“Being chairman never entered my mind,” Ford said. He supported Chad Mitchell, who has served six years, but Mitchell couldn’t get the third vote.
On the day of the swearing in of new board members, Mitchell told Ford he would support him.
Ford had to modify his work schedule to get more time to handle the chairman’s job.
His signature will be appearing on millions of dollars of county checks in the next four years. Fortunately, the county uses an electronic signature card.
Having served on the Planning Board and Social Services Board and attended most commissioners meeting over the past few years, Ford is familiar with many county issues.
But some afternoons, he learns about “new” issues that have been around for a decade or more.
He’s depending on County Manager Gary Page and other commissioners to make things work for the best. “Gary is helping a lot,” Ford said, adding that it’s a learning process for both of them as they catch up on old issues.
And there’s an unexpected factor to being chairman.
After 26 years on the radio, his new job is making him a bit of TV star.
Commission meetings are recorded and shown on the Salisbury and Cabarrus Time Warner public channels.
He’s amazed at the number of people who tell him they watch the commissioners meeting on TV, particularly on Cabarrus Channel 22 at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Channel 22 reaches most of southern Rowan County.
After spending a few hours at the county office, Ford is back to the station for some on-air time, recordings and other work.
He gets home between 5 and 7 p.m. and most nights is in bed by 8 or 9 p.m.
The exception is football season. On Friday nights, he barely gets home before it’s time to start over.
While he has revamped his schedule to do the county job, Ford has a couple of unbreakable commitments ó Wednesday nights and Sunday morning and nights. His family goes to Truth Temple Church on Moose Road in Kannapolis, the church founded by his father-in-law, Garland Faw.- – –
You may contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.