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Francis Fisher, "Mountain Stage" Chief Engineer, Will Be Among Broadcasters Hall Of Fame Inductees

Francis Fisher
Mountain Stage Archive
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Mountain Stage
Francis Fisher in the early days of "Mountain Stage"

The West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame has announced that "Mountain Stage" co-founder and chief engineer Francis Fisher will be among the 2020 class of inductees at the Museum of Radio and Technology, located in Huntington. Fisher joins his fellow co-founders, host and artistic director Larry Groce, and Executive Producer Andy Ridenour, as members of the prestigious hall. 

"No one deserves this honor more than Francis," Groce said upon learning of Fisher's induction. "He has distinguished himself on every level of broadcasting from head engineer at WDNE in Elkins to designing and maintaining the statewide, multi-broadcast-tower system at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, to national engineering work with the NBC radio network in New York City.

He also engineered all but one of Mountain Stage's 962 shows over 36 years, a Herculean accomplishment that may never be equaled. On Mountain Stage, he has mixed audio and recorded artists ranging from R.E.M., Phish, Martina McBride, Buddy Guy and Eric Church to Bill Monroe, Pops Staples, Vince Gill, Joan Baez, Ali Farke Toure and Alison Krauss. Francis Fisher is a remarkable man who has proven it again and again in a career that has lasted more than five decades and is still going strong."

Fisher's broadcast mix can be heard weekly on over 240 NPR stations across the country and throughout the state on WVPB’s radio network.

Francis.jpg
Credit Mountain Stage Archive

  

As a child growing up in Parkersburg, W.Va, Fisher grew up listening to the classic radio of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His earliest training in electronics began in the Navy, where he learned to repair all manner of communications and electronics equipment.

“From the time I was 15, I always knew what I wanted to do with my life,” he said in the book 20 Years of Mountain Stage. “I wanted to be a broadcast engineer and I wanted to go to New York and work at a network.”

He did just that, joining the staff at NBC radio in Rockefeller Center at age 23. After NBC, Fisher moved to Elkins, taking up film developing, candle sales and running an electronics shop. He joined WVPB in its Beckley studio, where he designed and implemented the microwave system that linked the state’s public radio stations, a first of its kind in the country, according to 20 Years of Mountain Stage. Soon after he met Ridenour, they developed the idea of a live performance radio show that would eventually become “Mountain Stage.” Originally using three 8-channel mixers bridged togeter, Fisher’s mix of the show has been recorded to every major recorded format, from reel-to-reel, to Digital Audio Tape (DAT), to Mini-Disc, to CD to now digital hard drive.

A ceremony is tentatively planned for late-October. The full release is below.

(Biographical information pulled from 20 Years of Mountain Stage profile written by Michael Lipton)

francis_dinner.jpg
Credit Brian Blauser/ Mountain Stage
Fisher takes time to eat during sound-checks at one of over 960 episodes he's mixed for Mountain Stage.

  

 

Press Release:

Museum of Radio and Technology expands its Broadcasting Hall of Fame

(Huntington, W. Va., July 23, 2020)—Three renowned broadcasting professionals will be inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 31, at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington, W. Va.  How the enshrinement ceremony will be conducted due to the Covid-19 Pandemic is not definite yet.  In the past the event has been held with an audience of invited guests and has been broadcast live on a statewide network of radio stations.  Details will be announced soon.

Tom Resler, the Museum’s Hall of Fame committee chairman, said that the selection committee chose from a wide field of nominations.  “The ones who were finally selected contributed hugely to the field of broadcasting and clearly are worthy of this high honor,” he said.

The 2020 West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees are:

Francis Fisher – A Parkersburg native, Fisher moved to New York and engineered shows on the NBC radio network in the mid-1960’s working alongside legends like Chet Huntley and Don Pardo.  Years later he won acclaim as sound engineering expert for West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Mountain Stage.”  He has sound-mixed performances of R.E.M, Sheryl Crow, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Randy Newman and many other musicians from around the world.

Mark Martin – He has served as Sports Director for both WCHS-TV and WVAH-TV in Charleston/Huntington since 2000.  This Fairplain resident has been a broadcaster of games telecast on ESPN, has won an EMMY, was named Sportscaster of the Year in West Virginia in 2002 and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Associated Press in 2009.

Eric McGuire – That was the radio name of Eric Howdershelt, a creative, witty and outrageously funny DJ and show host who was raised on a dairy farm in Barbour County and has retired there now.  He had a brilliant career at WELK in Elkins, in Grafton at WTBZ, WHAR in Clarksburg, Weston’s WSSN-FM, and Morgantown’s WVAQ.  Topping off his more than three decades in broadcasting he even had his own statewide hookup, the Eric McGuire Network.

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