We’re told as little kids to follow our dreams. But once you get old enough, you start hearing about how we need to make our dreams a little more “realistic”. Larry Stone’s life went a little differently. From the moment that Larry’s father had discovered his hidden talent for radio broadcasting, he knew that his son had something special. Fast forward to the present: Larry Stone now proudly runs Stonecom, a mix of diverse, Upper Cumberland stations that include: 106.9, 95.9,93.7, and 94.1. Stonecom has grown rapidly over the past couple of years and continues to grow and enhance what they have to offer to the Upper Cumberland.
Larry Stone grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Normally it takes 14 years of school, and a couple of passed and failed classes, to realize what someone wants to do with their lives. However, Stone knew from a very young age what his future career path would be. With the help of his father, Stone was able to get his first job at 15 working for his local radio station. Stone mentioned to us how the General Manager of the station noted that his amateur cassette was better than “half of the people he had on air”. So while a typical teenager took the job of bagging groceries at their local supermarket, Stone was making a name for himself at the Wilkesboro radio station.
For all of the aspiring radio station DJs or future owners, we will go ahead and answer the question that has been gnawing at your stomach: Yes, Larry Stone went to college. He attended the University of North Carolina and double majored in Journalism and Radio/Television, going on to get his Master’s Degree and a year of his PhD for teaching. However, his broadcasting dreams were starting to bloom, so Stone decided to stick with broadcasting instead of continuing to pursue his teaching path. Stone packed and moved to the land of deer in your yard, cows on the road, and tomatoes on the corner, also known as good ole Rocky Top Tennessee.
He started broadcasting for the Titans through the Dick Broadcasting radio stations in Nashville, and continued to broadcast for them for 17 years! After reaching 40, Stone told himself, “Hey if I’m ever gonna own radio stations it’s time to do it or it’s going to be a lost dream. So I met with one of the Titan’s radio affiliates that live in Kentucky who owned stations starting at the age of 21 and I said, ‘Give me some advice.’” Now, I bet you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what this grand advice was. Stone was told to figure out what places in the world he would like to move to and call the local radio stations and see if the owner would be interested in selling their station. He wrote letters to two places, his home town in North Carolina and Cookeville, TN.
After weeks of waiting, he received an invitation to talk to the owners of a local station in Cookeville. However, the owner and Stone couldn’t properly negotiate a deal they both liked, so Stone was offered the position of GM at the JWC radio station. Soon after working at JWC and getting close with the owner, Stone was finally able to turn his dream into a reality and purchase his own radio station.
The first thing that Larry Stone knew he needed to do was to get more involved in the community. In order to be a player in the community radio game, he had to build a team to be involved. Since 2011, Stone got involved. His team does many events throughout each month: nights, weekends, Cookeville, Jamestown, McMinnville. You name it, they do it! They even put on some of their own community events like the Egg Hunt at Tech. The Biz Foundry was even lucky enough to have Stonecom sponsor our first annual Made Here Market event with more promotion than we could have dreamed of!
Over the last 8 years, Stone has built a great team and has many more ideas he would like to pursue. Recently, they were able to open their very own building that includes a community room available for various purposes. “We’ve moved very strongly in podcasting over the last 6 months. That has been very successful and the next thing for us is video. We have a room in our new building that will be set up we’ll be using to do video.” (Stonecom produces Powered By Her, The Biz Foundry female entrepreneur podcast) Stone has been introduced to endless possibilities and has branched his station out, making it diverse for the ears of the Upper Cumberland. He has not only built a radio station but a getaway for the local listeners.