Around town: Radio Free Asheville celebrates its launch

SAVE THE WAVE: Matt Mittan and Michele Scheve recently launched the newest addition to their radio station family — Radio Free Asheville. The 24/7 online radio station will feature nothing but WNC-based podcasters and will allow listeners to follow or book the people they are hearing in real time. Photo courtesy of Matt Mittan

In March 2018,  Matt Mittan and Michele Scheve brought Biz Radio Asheville to the local AM radio scene  — community talk radio, focused on local business innovators and nonprofit leaders. Since that time, the couple has transitioned to digital and launched Buzz Radio.

More recently, on June 11, the couple celebrated the debut of their third station, Radio Free Asheville.

“Our plan is to help change the local radio landscape and bring ‘all-in’ attention to our local small businesses, musicians, artists, podcasters and comedians,” says Mittan. One thing that sets the stations apart is their direct-connect option, which allows listeners to directly follow, purchase from and/or book the people they’re hearing in real time. “This is a vital part of helping build audience and income for people and organizations featured on our stations,” notes Mittan.

The station will feature a range of shows, from horror stories and radio dramas to a series on the local craft beverage industry. “The subject matter is wide open, except for partisan political shows,” says Mittan. “We figured there are already plenty of platforms for that type of content.”

Learn more about Asheville’s new radio station at

Live art, plein and simple

Heart of Brevard is partnering with Transylvania Community Arts Council for a first-time festival — Art Is in the Air, described as “a weekend of en plein air in downtown Brevard,” happening Friday-Sunday, June 25-27.

“Brevard is known for its vibrant arts scene, and we wanted to create an event to invite artists to showcase their craft in iconic Brevard locations,” says Nicole Bentley, executive director of Heart of Brevard, a local nonprofit.

Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to see 25 local artists in action, then purchase finished works on Sunday beginning at noon. Admission to the festival is free, but the Wet Paint Show and Sale requires advance tickets until it opens to the public Sunday at 3 p.m.

For more about the festival, visit

Hemp hemp hooray

The Southern Atlantic Hemp & Arts Expo and AsheJam are partnering to produce a three-day festival celebrating art, music, wellness and hemp. The event kicks off at the WNC Agricultural Center, 761 Boylston Highway, Fletcher, Friday-Sunday, June 25-27.

“This is our inaugural event, and we’re coming out of the box as a major national event,” says Donald Pickett, creator of SAHAE and AsheJam, and founder of Southern Atlantic Hemp Inc., a Candler nonprofit promoting hemp-based education.

The expo will feature 36 musical acts, including British dub reggae artist Mad Professor, who will be flying in for his only North American appearance this year, and American rock band Pure Prairie League. Local acts include the bluegrass-reggae hybrid band Snake Oil Medicine Show, rock band Hard Rocket and Americana-rock band The New Rustics, among others.

Along with live performances, the event will include 25 presenters, including Steve DeAngelo, “one of the [hemp] industry’s major pioneers,” says Pickett.

Ticket holders will also have access to art installations, yoga classes, healing arts presentations, fire dancing performances, food and libations.

However, the expo’s core mission is to provide a platform for the hemp industry. “This is one of the reasons that we created AsheJam,” says Pickett. “As a music festival, we’ve been able to reach millions through social platforms, radio, TV and street teams in several states.”

Single-day general admission tickets start at $28; VIP tickets (which include food and beverage vouchers, VIP tent access and other perks) start at $179. For more information on the festival and more comprehensive ticket pricing, visit

‘Sites of Resistance’ in Black history

The Western North Carolina Historical Association’s history lecture series will continue with its fifth installment, “Sites of Resistance,” Thursday, June 24, 6:30-8 p.m. The latest virtual talk features researchers Ronnie Pepper, chair of the Black History Research Committee of Henderson County, and Lisa Withers, a doctoral candidate at N.C. State University.

Trevor Freeman, public programs director at WNCHA, says Pepper’s talk will examine the importance of visiting the Zirconia historical landmark honoring the Kingdom of the Happy Land, an autonomous community founded by formerly enslaved people following the Civil War.

Meanwhile, Withers will explore historical locations throughout the state featured in the Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide used by Black citizens during the Jim Crow era.

“These places, some of which still exist, help us see local Black history not simply as a story of marginalization, but as alive with resistance and determination in individuality and community,” says Freeman.

The event is free for WNCHA members; $5 for nonmembers. Register at


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