They have an odd way of working out disagreements in their marriage – Debbie and Charlie Nance turn it over to their listeners.
Marking 10 years this week in afternoon drive-time on Charlotte’s WSOC-FM (103.7), the Nances are fortunate that most of their hang-ups are drip-dry ones: like how he’s messy around the house, like how she’s a scary driver.
People call in with suggestions for domestic tranquility. And they usually support her.
Debbie’s father worked for their hometown radio station in Corsicana, Texas, south of Dallas, for 50 years and got her in the business there when she was 15.
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By the time she was done with high school, she was doing part-time shifts there and at two other radio stations in the area. She kept working nights and weekends at a Dallas station during college at the University of North Texas in Denton.
After graduating in 1991, she got hired at a radio station in Waco, Texas, by Charlie Nance, who’d gotten into the business while attending nearby Baylor University.
Her first day, he apologized for running late. “He said, ‘I just got back from getting engaged,’” she says. “I thought, well, I guess this isn’t going anywhere.”
By the time his engagement ended a few months later, they were inseparable friends. Then one night he invited himself over to dinner. Things turned romantic.
He landed a job in Tallahassee, Fla., and she found one in Austin, Texas.
He remembers thinking he would give it six months to see if he still missed her. “After six minutes,” he says, “I knew I couldn’t live without her.”
They got married and moved to Greenville, S.C., teaming up on the morning show on a country station. They’ve been work partners ever since, going on to jobs in Augusta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., and landing in Charlotte in 2006.
When they started on radio together, they were one of only five husband-wife teams in the nation. They’re often contacted by stations wondering whether a married couple can work together effectively on air.
Their marriage is part of the show and listeners expect to be part of it. Her pregnancy was, too.
They suddenly disappeared from the air for a few days while in Augusta. Their son had been born 10 weeks premature at 2 pounds, 4 ounces.
Charlie went on the air a few days later and told the story to their listeners. Augusta followed the couple’s struggle for three months. Their son, Hogan, finally got to go home at 4 pounds.
He’s thrived since, making the honor roll at Metrolina Christian Academy in Indian Trail and becoming an avid golfer like his father.
After 10 years on the radio, there isn’t much about them listeners don’t know, they admit, except perhaps two things.
Debbie is painfully shy, a life-long introvert who has always forced herself to step into uncomfortable situations. Like going out for cheerleading, like finding work before the microphone.
Charlie says he’s a lot more sensitive than people would expect.
“He gets weepy at stories on TV,” she says.
No argument there. “I get weepy at SportsCenter updates,” says he.