After nearly 60 years on Fayetteville radio airwaves, Curt’s Coffee Club has convened for the final time. Curt Nunnery, who got his start locally as a Fourth of July replacement on WFAI back in 1960, passed away recently at the age of 83.
Show guests and professional cohorts remember him as man with an incredible passion for his work who had an almost magical connection with his loyal radio fan base.
Janet Gibson, marketing and communications director of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County, had some family connections with Nunnery and, like him, was a graduate of the University of South Carolina. She got to know him best during the last couple of years when she made regular appearances on his morning show on Sunny 94.3 FM, promoting the Arts Council’s 4th Friday events.
“He would teach me how to speak in the microphone,’’ Gibson said. “He was a great teacher. I’m not the only one he’s done that with. People have similar stories about his generosity of spirit.’’
Gibson said Nunnery’s fans loved his morning show, and they were people of various generations and cultural backgrounds. “He was the quintessential Southern gentleman,’’ Gibson said. “You want to protect someone like that and revere them. I think there was a lot of respect.’’
Gibson said it was little things that made Nunnery special to listeners. For example, when he read a commercial for a local restaurant, he’d list all the names of the servers there as he talked about the food they offered.
In a time when technology is moving so fast and people are glued to smartphones, Gibson said Nunnery reminded everyone to slow down and show gratitude. “He always showed gratitude,’’ she said.
Carolyn Justice-Hinson, also a regular guest on Nunnery’s radio show, is the communications and community relations officer for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. Justice-Hinson recalled a time when Nunnery helped host an event for PWC that was being held outdoors on a cold and rainy day. “His listeners that came to visit that day were upset,’’ Justice-Hinson said. “They wanted us to move him inside. They didn’t want him out there in the cold.’’
Justice-Hinson said Nunnery was part of the lives of his listeners. She is certain there is going to be avoid that can’t be filled now that he’s gone.
“I can’t imagine what’s going to happen,’’ she said. “It’s going to be very difficult for people. We were all blessed we knew him and had him as long as we did.’’
Danny Highsmith, regional vice president for Beasley Broadcast Group, where Nunnery worked for many years, said Nunnery had deep roots in the community that endeared him to his listening audience. “He could talk about what’s going on in Fayetteville,’’ Highsmith said. “He was not some syndicated guy from New York.’’
In the end, Highsmith said Nunnery was not unlike the name of his program, Curt’s Coffee Club — that morning cup of coffee that everyone depended on to start the day.
“When they turned on the radio or woke up to the clock radio, he was familiarity,’’ Highsmith said. “That familiarity is something that endeared him to people as well.’’
Photo: Curt Nunnery