Peachtree – Even though he spends a lot of his time behind a microphone on the radio, everyone in Cherokee County has been exposed to Tim Radford’s smile.
The owner of WKRK-AM 1320 got an immediate standing ovation and a lot of smiles in return Thursday night, when he walked to the podium to accept the 2019 Citizen of the Year award from the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce during the 50th installment of their annual dinner before a packed house at McGuire’s Millrace Farm.
“The best thing I can say about this person is he’s the real deal. When the owner of the competing radio station in town has needed technical assistance, he hasn’t hesitated to go out of his way to help keep that station on the air,” said the evening’s emcee, David Brown, publisher the Cherokee Scout. “He’s not even afraid to partner with the local newspaper on a monthly show called Celebrate Cherokee County. That’s the spirit of unity that will help us all succeed.”
Radford and his radio partner, Tyler Anderson, interrupted a week-long conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to attend the dinner, so getting the citizen of the year back here was a tall task.
“Somebody didn’t tell me, they just said we needed to be here,” Radford said, referring to Anderson, who called Radford his “best friend” in a Facebook post congratulating him.
Becca McNabb, who handles marketing and public relations for the chamber, pulled Anderson aside after a radio program a couple of weeks ago and told him he needed to convince Radford to come to the dinner. His first attempt to tell Radford someone anonymously paid for his ticket did not work, so he had to take it up a notch.
“I told him that Becca would probably cry if we did not go,” Anderson said. “I said she would feel really insulted, and he said he couldn’t make Becca cry.”
“Intense guilt worked, I guess,” Radford said with a smile.
Radford is involved with local organizations like the Murphy Rotary Club, Tri-County Early College Business Advisory Council, N.C. Association of Broadcasters, Cherokee County Broadband Committee, Mayor’s Business Roundtable Advisory Board, Recover Our Mountains, the Coalition for a Safe and Drug-free Cherokee County and as an ambassador for the chamber.
As for winning the award, Radford said he was “very humbled.”
“I was speechless, my face turned red,” he said. “I was just very honored that someone felt like I was worthy enough to nominate for this. We have a great community, and I enjoy sharing the love back to them. It makes me happy to be here to do what I do. I love my job.”
Other chamber awards
The chamber’s 2019 Business of the Year is Farley Insurance based in Murphy.
“For more than two decades, this business has been providing important services to local businesses, charities and residents, and they’ve done it with the attitude that they want to see the entire community thrive along with them,” Brown said.
“That’s why the owner (Gene Farley) has been involved in a number of volunteer activities, like the Murphy Rotary Club, Community Foundation Board of Western North Carolina and the regional Workforce Development Board. He also encourages the good folks who work with him to get involved in positive things and make a difference.”
The 2019 Community Service Organization of the Year is the United Way of Cherokee and Clay Counties.
“The group’s local director has been a positive force in the community for years, and she has obtained at least 47 grants for money that has been redistributed toward good works,” Brown said of United Way Director Karen Borchers. “With her leadership, a strong board and wonderful volunteers, the best hopefully is still yet to come.
“The group’s website contains a phrase that’s perfect for this evening: ‘We rise or fall together. With your support, we are reaching for new heights.’ ”
For the 29th time, the Disability Employment Awareness Awards were presented as part of the chamber’s annual dinner. Dennis Myers from Industrial Opportunities Inc. in Andrews made the presentations centered around the theme, “The Right Talent, Right Now.”
The Personal Achievement Award went to KaSandra Keeling, who completed IOI program’s before working her way into a position as an attendant care worker in the rehab department.
“Her quiet and caring nature has made her and excellent fit for this job,” Myers said.
The employer award went to Moog in Peachtree, as Myers related the story of a young man with “numerous barriers” who was given a chance to succeed with their crew of engineers. They were picked “both for giving this employment opportunity, and also for going the extra mile to make a success of the situation.”
Moog General Manager Scott Keaton accepted the award.