Is WNRN close to a management hire? Station founder Mike Friend hints at "compromise deal"

Months after rumors that WNRN radio station founder Mike Friend lost his management responsibilities, the station may be close to making a hire. Whether the new station manager is Mike Friend, however, remains to be seen.

“There’s a plan in place that I can’t talk about right now,” Friend told C-VILLE during a phone interview. Asked whether he had applied for the position, Friend said that he had, but “that’s not where we’re going right now.”

“There’s a compromise deal in place, and I can’t talk about it,” said Friend. “And I don’t think anybody else on the board will, either.”

In July, a WNRN employee told C-VILLE that Friend was “stripped of his duties” at the station. By late September, the WNRN Board of Directors had approved plans for a national station manager search, which ultimately attracted more than 40 applicants from around the country. Now, according to chairman Maynard Sipe, a lawyer with LeClairRyan, the board is ready to interview its top candidates.

“I’m looking forward to having a new station manager in place close to the beginning of the year,” said Sipe during a phone interview. He added that he was “very impressed by the response to our ad,” and said more than one dozen of the applicants were “well-qualified.”

Acting General Manager Anne Williams, the longtime host of “Acoustic Sunrise,” confirmed that she had applied for the position. She also confirmed that Friend remained the station’s engineer. Asked about the station’s fall fundraising drive, both Williams and Sipe said that the total money raised made it the most successful fund drive in the station’s history.

“The station’s been successful because it fulfills a real need in the community,” said Sipe, who added that WNRN has a pending application for a construction permit for a signal tower that would expand coverage around south central Virginia. “I look forward to seeing it continue to improve and professionalize its operations. The new station manager position is important for the growth of the station.”

WNRN’s Board of Directors meets four times each year, and was slated to convene on December 7 at the radio station’s Old Ivy Road location. This C-VILLE reporter arrived at the station, but was told that the meeting had been cancelled because the board could not gather a quorum to discuss business.

While there is no information concerning WNRN’s next meeting, Friend hinted that something may be on the horizon.

“Over the next couple of weeks, there may or may not be a press release which should provide some clarity on it,” he said. For now, we’ll have to stay tuned.