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It's safe to say that nobody who meets Bill Hufnagle soon forgets him. Even if his ZZ Top beard doesn't stick in your mind, his outgoing personality and dedication to MAIN's new community radio station WPVM certainly will.
Bill serves as one of WPVM's many volunteers, and he does so with gusto equal to the role he has taken on - fundraising chairperson for the fledgling station. It was a task he admits he didn't necessarily crave, but one that he knew couldn't be set aside. Fortunately for WPVM, the job has grown on him.
"I have to say that although fundraising was not my first choice of jobs, I have found it to be highly rewarding and great fun too," Bill said. "I am blessed to work with a fabulous team of dedicated and talented volunteers and MAIN staff that are creating great results."
Had he wanted, Bill would have had no trouble finding excuses not to try to tackle such a demanding role. In his day job, Bill goes by the name "Biker Billy", and tours the nation whipping up crowds at biker rallies and exhibitions with his fiery vegetarian cooking demonstrations. His unique presentation has landed him guest shots on The Tonight Show and Live with Regis and Kelly, as well as other top shows, and he recently published his third collection of recipes, Biker Billy's Hog Wild on a Harley Cookbook.
With so much on his plate (pardon the pun), why does Bill make the time to head up WPVM's important fund-raising committee? He says it's for the simple reason that the community needs the station to thrive.
"My personal belief is that healthy communities are built on the bedrock of honest communication and free speech, which in today's society increasingly means local papers, Internet access, public access TV and community radio," Bill said.
To the many MAIN and WPVM volunteers who agree with that, Bill's commitment to the station is cause for celebration. His energy and resourcefulness have added excitement to the project and, importantly, money to the coffers. He has also inspired other volunteers to dive in and tackle the big jobs.
"Bill is really gifted at making everyone around him feel heard and important," said Leah Ferguson, who joined Bill's committee as underwriting coordinator. "Smart, independent thinkers are not easy to manage, but Bill makes it look easy. He quickly welcomed me into the WPVM family and because he has placed his confidence in my ability to foster this new initiative, I feel a tremendous commitment to get the job done."
Wally Bowen, executive director of the Mountain Area Information Network, said providing that kind of inspiration is a contribution all by itself.
"Bill is a great example of the kind of high-energy volunteers WPVM is attracting. Starting up a new radio station is no small task, and it couldn't be done without committed folks like Bill Hufnagle," Bowen said.
As WPVM begins broadcasting from its new studio on Haywood Street in downtown Asheville and adds a paid manager to its team, fundraising will continue to be a top priority for the station. Bill is confident the community will support WPVM because of the outpouring of interest he has seen already.
"I have heard wonderful responses to WPVM - all people want is to be able to get the signal over a broader area than the current transmitter allows," he said, noting that programming is now streamed via the Internet at www.wpvm.org. "I believe that the community wants and needs WPVM and will come out to support it, simply because they know it is their local voice and they are tired of piped in mass media."
Editor's Note: If you would like to help foster a sense of community in WNC, make new friends, and have a shot at becoming our next volunteer hero, please visit the MAIN Volunteer Page to check out current volunteer opportunities. Volunteer opportunites for WPVM are at www.wpvm.org.