In 1984, Public Radio East (PRE) and WTEB were established as a result of the efforts by the radio station’s lead advocate, Dr. Charles Barker. Barker was a New Bern dentist and charter member of the Board of Trustees of the Craven Industrial Education Center, which later became Craven Community College (CCC). Barker served on the college’s board from 1965-1991. Prior to earning his dental degree, Barker obtained his bachelor degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This may explain his interest in radio broadcasting.
“Dr. Barker loved radio and felt strongly that eastern North Carolina deserved to have public radio,” said Charles Wethington, PRE’s general manager. Wethington became involved with PRE before its official launch where he helped chief engineer Howard Jones install wiring at the station. Wethington officially joined PRE in 1985 and became its manager in 2006.
In 1985, WTEB had approximately 9,000 weekly listeners. Today, over 48,000 people in the area listen to PRE each week. PRE is a nonprofit, non-commercial broadcasting organization licensed to the Board of Trustees of CCC. The station broadcasts classical, jazz, and Americana music, and news, and is a National Public Radio affiliate. PRE consistently ranks in the top 20 public radio stations, based on its large share of audience per capita.
Jared Brumbaugh is a CCC graduate who benefited from PRE’s presence in the Barker Hall building on the New Bern campus. Brumbaugh graduated in 2007 with an associate’s degree in applied science, where he majored in electronics engineering. “When I graduated from New Bern High School, I knew I wanted to go to college at Craven and pursue a career in the technical side of radio broadcasting,” said Brumbaugh. While a CCC student, Brumbaugh was given the opportunity to work part-time at PRE doing a variety of activities, such as editing audio, producing news stories and conducting interviews.
When Brumbaugh graduated, he began working more at PRE, and eventually became the producer of the “Down East Journal” (DEJ) weekly radio segment. This fall, “DEJ” will mark its 10-year milestone with a new theme song. The process of creating a theme song started last fall when Brumbaugh contacted Edward Jacobs, East Carolina University’s (ECU) School of Music professor of composition. ECU students were given guidelines to help these student composers come up with a sound that captured the eastern N.C. culture and communicated the essence of the news radio segment. “We want something fresh, but that also has a sound that conveys mission of “DEJ” has been since it began 10 years ago,” said Brumbaugh.
After a couple of reviews of the students’ theme song submissions, PRE selected three finalists. PRE has invited the public to help them choose a theme song through an online contest. Voting is available on PRE’s website at www. publicradioeast.org until July 10. The winning theme will be announced on July 11.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.