A maverick is defined as “an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.” Going by that definition, The Maverick – an alternative country music station with frequencies covering most of Alamance County and, now, Mebane and Hillsborough – is properly named.
On The Maverick, you won’t just hear songs off the country music charts. What you will hear are more songs from artists like Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn and Diamond Rio, for example.
Owner Chuck Marsh said, when the station started, it was decided it would break the unspoken tradition of country radio stations only playing the songs Nashville tells them they can and, instead, play what they – and their listeners – wanted.
That’s a big reason why they’re the most popular radio station in Alamance County and have over 10,000 online listeners monthly. That success has led The Maverick to add a new frequency, 94.3 FM, which be picked up between Mebane and Hillsborough.
“We’ve had people for two years now, since we put the station on, say, ‘When are you guys coming to Mebane?’ Marsh said. “Or, ‘Hey, we’d love to be able to take you all the way to Hillsborough.’”
So, Marsh, who said the station’s listeners aren’t fans but ‘kinfolk,’ listened. However, 94.3 FM is still a work in progress, as the station continues fixing all the frequency’s bugs.
“We’ve not really promoted 94.3 FM, as of yet…” Marsh said. “But it’s just one of those deals where we’ve extended that coverage to become accessible for our [kinfolk].
Marsh said there has always been a vision to add another The Maverick frequency in the eastern part of Alamance County into Hillsborough, and the station has had the license to broadcast in Mebane since they first went on air two years ago.
“But about time we were getting ready to launch the station, COVID hit,” Marsh said. “We had tower climbers, and all of these people that were involved were working remotely and not climbing and not doing those kind of things…So that threw us back.”
Marsh, a radio veteran who grew up in Burlington, has worked for bigger, corporate country music stations like 93.1 The Wolf out of Winston Salem. He’s also owned a station in Ahoskie and two in Marion, VA simultaneously.
“I was managing stations eight hours apart,” Marsh said. “I would drive there, manage one three days a week, come home stay and one day a week, then I’d go a couple days a week over to the other station.”
Marsh said it got to the point where it felt like he was passing himself going back and forth each week. Then he and his radio partner split.
That’s when Marsh realized he wasn’t dreaming big enough. So, he decided to move back to Alamance County and start a new kind of station in his home county, even though he knew it would be a “struggle” from the beginning.
“I did it anyway and God used that opportunity to kind of groom me and prepare me for what we’re doing here,” Marsh said. “All of the mistakes that I made kind of coming up, and all of the questions that listeners asked – everything – I poured into this station, and this is kind of the reward for all of that.”
And it hasn’t always been easy for The Maverick and its staff, but the station is now wildly successful in Alamance County because it’s “a country music station built by country music lovers for country music lovers.”
“The people who program radio stations across the country won’t ever try to come after us and do what we do because they think we’re stupid,” Marsh said. “They think we’re crazy for doing what we do but we have a pretty loyal following.”
And the station more than just appreciates the support from listeners, they give back, too. “My accountant told me the other day that we’ve given over $100,000 away in charitable donations and giving in two years,” Marsh said.
“We want to give back to the community, we value the people who are trying to do the same thing that we are and grind every day just trying to make it go,” Marsh said.
Dylan Phillips is the staff writer for the Mebane Enterprise, a sister publication of the News of Orange.