Our Beloved Patron

Welcome to
WPVM’s new blog! Most fittingly, our first feature is Dr. Herb Johnson, the
station’s main and most beloved patron.

Recently Dr.
Herbert Johnson had a revelation while sitting in the lobby of WPVM 103.7 community
radio station in downtown Asheville—a station which he and his wife, Ms. Davyne
Dial, manage since acquiring the FCC license in 2015. He was looking at the old
black and white photographs on the wall, taking him back to his childhood in
Chicago when his father was a professional musician, playing during the Big
Band era of the 1920s and ‘30s with the likes of Paul Whiteman, known as the
“King of Jazz.”

“My God!”
thought Dr. Johnson—who has had a long and fascinating life full of both
disappointment and success—”my life has come full circle! It started out
in ‘show business’—listening to my dad on the radio—and now it’s circled back
again!” Indeed, a feature of WPVM 103.7FM is their musical programs of vintage
music including live and recorded Big Band music.


The decades
in-between have been just as revelatory. Dr. Johnson graduated from medical
school at Northwestern in 1960 (attending less out of his own passion and more
because his immigrant parents were committed their sons be “professional” men),
but he was not happy in private practice—a time when family medicine was
becoming too much about the business of medicine. After a stint in the Public
Health Service, Dr. Johnson was assigned as doctor aboard the legendary tall
ship USCGC Eagle, a Coast Guard
training cutter (built in Germany before WWII), but had to retire from the
Coast Guard (retiring as a full colonel) when he became sick with encephalitis.
Suffering organic brain damage, Dr. Johnson spent nearly a decade relearning to
speak and to walk. Wondering what to do during his rehabilitation time, he
“heard” the message: “you’ll read what you’ll find most boring” and, in turn,
read every available book on the stock market. (The only one he found not boring was Andrew Tobias’ The Only Investment Guide You’ll Need,
reading it twice!) As a result, he became a very successful investor.

It was not
the last time Dr. Johnson heard “a mystical voice,” as he calls it, speaking to
him, sending him messages of guidance and instruction. Although he moved to
Asheville in 1989 because of the VA hospital, there could have been a “message”
of a more intimate nature in that decision because he met Ms. Dial a year later
and they’ve been together ever since. In Asheville, Dr. Johnson, putting his
successful investments to good use, became the largest personal donor to
UNC-Asheville, starting a book scholarship for students. But the real satisfaction for Dr. Johnson—highlighting his
generous spirit—was the deep pleasure of philanthropy!

Back to that
“full circle.” When they had the chance to acquire the FCC license for the
long-dormant community radio station WPVM 103.7FM, Dr. Johnson and Ms. Dial
didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to give back to their much-loved adopted
city. Concerned with the country’s dwindling sources of independent media, the
couple welcomed their new career, investing
time, money and joy in the station! Through the not-for-profit Friends of WPVM,
they’ve established a dynamic community voice, with a roster of informed and
entertaining show hosts including programs featuring music of all stripes—and
with a little “show biz” vibe! ~