WCQS Music Director Dick Kowal Announces Retirement

Dec 2, 2016

After three decades of service to public radio audiences in Western North Carolina, WCQS Music Director Dick Kowal will retire at the end of April, 2017.

Dick joined WCQS in 1986 when it was still a fledgling station. In the years since, the station has become an essential arts and culture resource for the region.

Reflecting on his career Dick said, “For more than 30 years I’ve had the enormous opportunity to share some of the world’s greatest and most inspiring music with an appreciative, inquisitive and ever-growing audience.  I’ve also been fortunate to work, as either an interviewer or audio engineer, with hundreds of the artists and performers who make Western North Carolina the culturally rich area that it is. The music and the people have enriched my life beyond measure.”

WCQS General Manager and CEO David Feingold noted Dick’s important contribution to the cultural life of the region and said, “Dick has an incredible range of skills that is pretty unique in public radio. He has a passion for music and a depth of knowledge about it that he translates into conversations with his listeners. As a musician, he brings a great sensitivity to the live broadcasts and recordings of performances. At most public radio stations, the host concentrates only on the interview and a sound engineer handles the music. At WCQS, I’ve watched in amazement as Dick mixes the sound of the performance while simultaneously interviewing musicians in his relaxed and friendly style.”

Dick Kowal moved to Asheville with his family when he was 3-years old. The next year he began violin lessons, a step both he and the family dog protested. The lessons did pay off, ten long years later, when he began playing fiddle with the Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers, a very successful clogging group in Western North Carolina at that time. He also began playing trumpet with somewhat more success than the violin, and became a member of the Asheville Symphony while still a student at Lee Edwards (now Asheville) High School.

Fast forward through the University of Maryland, Western Carolina University, marriage, and two incredible children. Before starting at WCQS, Dick had finished a five- year stint with the Howard Hanger Jazz Fantasy, taught trumpet and audio production at UNC Asheville, and completed three years in computer operations for a local company.  As he began work at WCQS in 1986, he was performing with the ASO and the Appalachian Brass Quintet. Dick was ready for WCQS!

In reflecting on that decision to join WCQS, Dick said, “It has been my honor to work with a truly dedicated and capable staff and board of directors at WCQS; a group of people who believe deeply in the mission of public radio and who will continue to lead the station in fulfilling that mission.”

According to General Manager Feingold, WCQS will begin to plan for a transition and the hiring of a new staff member who will be responsible for arts and performance programming, to which WCQS remains fully committed. He points out that Kowal’s contributions to the success of the station have been significant, “Dick exemplifies public radio’s philosophy and values by dedicating his considerable talents to the people of Western North Carolina. He’s a key member of our staff and a caring member of the Asheville community.”

The WCQS staff and Board of Directors ask that listeners and community members throughout the region join them in thanking Dick Kowal for adding so much to the quality of life in Western North Carolina. Greetings can be sent by email to music@wcqs.org or mailed to Dick Kowal, WCQS, 73 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801.