Text and photos by Peter Vankevich
WOVV, Ocracoke’s Village Voice community radio station, has been around for 12 years and Gary Mitchell has been on the island playing music a lot longer.
Recently, the two converged in a new show that Mitchell calls “Ocracoke Music Sampler.”
The one-hour show runs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. and is rebroadcast at 6 p.m. on Thursdays. During it, Mitchell showcases the musical gems he has mined from his more than 25 years living, playing and recording music on the island.
He has had a home recording studio, Soundside Studio, since the 1990s.
Although the studio has been mostly about recording the band he founded originally with his wife Kitty Mitchell and Fiddler Dave Tweedie, Molasses Creek, which has produced 13 albums, he’s also recorded other performers: Noah Paley, Bob and Sky Zentz, Martin Garrish and some old timers, such as the late Roy Parsons and John Golden.
Sifting through the many CDs, he decided to document the music on Ocracoke.
“I found all kinds of little treasures that we’ve recorded,” he said. “A lot of them that I’ve just forgotten about.”
One way to promote these musical treasures, he thought, would be to host a radio show.
“Ocracoke Music Sampler” debuted on Oct. 4, the latest weekly show for Ocracoke’s nonprofit community radio station at 90.1 FM.
One show was based on the 1998 Ocrafolk Music CD, which featured songs by Roy Parsons, Jule Garrish, Martin Garrish, Rob Temple, Molasses Creek, Michael and Johnny O’Neal, Pat Garber, Jim Wynn, Kevin Hardy, the Ocracoke Cabaret, Bill and Libby Hicks, David Styron and Sundae Horn.
Many fans of the Ocrafolk Music Festival and the island music scene in general will recognize the artists featured on his shows.
He hopes to interview local performers as part of his show.
Ocracoke Music Sampler has an intro: “Roy Parsons, this old timer, born and raised here, had this famous quote. He’d say, ‘Gary, music is good,’ and that just summed up a lot right there.”
In addition to his music recordings, Mitchell also produces music videos that can be seen on his YouTube channel Gary Mitchell.
“I’ve always enjoyed making music videos and during the COVID lockdowns, I did a lot more,” he said.
With much community support and involvement, WOVV was officially launched in June of 2010 with terrestrial broadcasts (90.1 FM), and streaming online (wovv.org) followed a year later.
Mitchell joins a lengthy list of programs on WOVV, many by islanders.
Local broadcasters include “Classic Cuts & Such” hosted by John Simpson, “Down Creek Blues” by Tom Cain, “Beats with Beatle” by Beatle Haddad, “The Outdoor Shower Power Hour” by Chad Macek, “Full Throttle” by Matt Tolson, “Just Good Music from the Second Floor of the Old Fire House” by Peter Vankevich, “Island Morning Mix” by John Alexanderson and “Rockin’ Radio Show,” by Tommy Hutcherson and Larry Ihle.
Several off-islanders also have shows: “Sound Crossings” by LeAnne Astin, “Gospel Train” by Jim Bakay, “Brewer World Tour” by Dave Brewer, “Ramsey & Reality” by Tor Ramsey, “Beck Black’s Beach Shack” by Beck Black and “You Never Know Radio” by Uncle Sal.
The daily schedule can be found on the station’s website wovv.org and daily postings are on its Facebook page.
The station also has some scheduled music themes, such as the “Reggae Hour” on Saturday afternoons and classical music from 3 to 6 a.m.
In the absence of scheduled programs, the automated jukebox plays a free-reeling variety of music.
A frequent observation by the station’s fans is that the appeal of WOVV is you never know what song will be next.