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Arts & Culture

Francis Fisher Week — Our Proclamation Honoring WVPB's Longtime Engineer

Francis Fisher sits at an early version of his broadcast mix position backstage at Mountain Stage. Francis engineered nearly every episode of Mountain Stage.
Mountain Stage Archive
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Francis Fisher sits at an early version of his broadcast mix position backstage at Mountain Stage. Francis engineered nearly every episode of Mountain Stage.

PROCLAMATION OF FRANCIS FISHER WEEK

  • Whereas he was born on April 22, 1942 in Atascadero, CA only because his father was stationed on an army base in the area.
  • Whereas he got back to his real home in Parkersburg, WV as fast as his chubby baby legs could carry him.
  • Whereas he knew, even as a child that he wanted to have a career in broadcast engineering.
  • Whereas he grew up across the street from the girl he would later meet again and marry.
  • Whereas after moving to Morgantown WV and graduating high school, he joined the Navy where he learned electronics and radio engineering.
  • Whereas in the mid-1960s, when his hitch was up and he had seen the world from the deck of a ship, he moved to New York City and took a position with the NBC radio network.
Pops Staples- "Why Am I Treated So Bad?" live on Mountain Stage
Mountain Stage broadcast mix by Francis Fisher
Francis console.tif

  • Whereas he first worked there as a sound engineer going out with reporters covering events such as the Ali-Liston weigh in and Brigitte Bardot’s first visit to America, and later worked with Long John Nebel, Don Imus and other national radio personalities.
  • Whereas he attended the legendary Beatles concert at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965 and later complained about the quality of the sound system.
  • Whereas he ultimately rose to be head night engineer for the NBC radio network which is now part of Westwood One.
  • Whereas in The Big Apple he reconnected with his neighbor from Parkersburg, Sandra Appel, and fell in love.
  • Whereas they married and lived in Greenwich Village.
  • Whereas they wanted to raise their first-born child, Amanda, in the Mountain State, and moved "back to the land" in Elkins, West Virginia in 1972.
Alison Krauss- "Forget About It" Live on Mountain Stage
Alison Krauss performing "Forget About It," live on Mountain Stage
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  • Whereas after his return he tried his hand at farming, candle making, photo developing, and owning his own small electronics repair business, but also worked as an engineer at WDNE radio in Elkins.
  • Whereas In 1978 he moved to Beckley, WV and began his career at WV Public Television.
  • Whereas In 1979 he helped engineer the move of the West Virginia Public Radio operation to Charleston and soon thereafter took on the role of Chief Engineer of WV Public Radio.
  • Whereas he led the design of the statewide microwave interconnect system for the expanding West Virginia Public Radio operation establishing new stations in Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, and Martinsburg to go with the original two in Beckley and Buckhannon.
  • Whereas he was the WVPB team leader on the move to 600 Capitol Street and to future modernizations of the interconnection system to satellite links at headquarters and at all the transmitter sites.
  • Whereas in 1981 he and Andy Ridenour invited Larry Groce to join them to attempt a live music variety radio show they called Mountain Stage, even though they had no funding, no equipment, and no experience at doing such a show.

  • Whereas he engineered a pilot for that program in 1981 and then its first regular broadcast live on West Virginia Public Radio on December 3, 1983, mixing the sound with a pair of audio mixers duct taped together.
  • Whereas in 1983 he also welcomed a second daughter, Emma, born in Charleston, with no duct tape involved.
  • Whereas on June 1, 1985 he engineered the first NPR national live Mountain Stage broadcast from the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, and continued as an engineer when the show began regularly scheduled prerecorded weekly national broadcasts on NPR in June 1986.
Joan Osborne- "Tryin' to Get to Heaven" live on Mountain Stage
Broadcast mix from Mountain Stage engineered by Francis Fisher
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  • Whereas over 37 years he engineered 961 Mountain Stage shows in 16 states and Glasgow, Scotland that included approximately 3,000 different artists such as REM, The Band, Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Randy Newman, Warren Zevon, Los Lobos, Doc Watson, Pops and Mavis Staples, Dr. John, Hazel Dickens, Joan Baez, Youssou N’Dour, Arlo Guthrie, John Hartford, Phish, The Indigo Girls, Odetta, Wilco, Allen Toussaint, Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsburg, Elvis Costello, Brownie McGee, Jean Ritchie, John Prine, Ali Farke Toure, Donavon, Alison Krauss, Townes Van Zandt, Jeff Daniels, Chris Stapleton, Ruth Brown, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Norah Jones, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sarah McLachlan, Lucinda Williams, Kevin Bacon, Tyler Childers and many more.
  • Whereas In 2020, he was inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
  • Whereas as much as any one person he was responsible for creating the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Network that we know today.

Therefore, we declare May 17-21 to be “Francis Fisher Week” at West Virginia Public Broadcasting.


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