In a San Diego hotel room the evening of Nov. 6, Mark Plemmons was waiting to broadcast a Davidson College football game for WHIP-AM (1350) the next day.
Almost 3,000 miles away, much of Cabarrus County was attending the Kannapolis-Concord game, the annual classic Battle for the Bell.
Plemmons wasn't going to miss out, though. He just whipped out his laptop and logged onto Radio Free Cabarrus' live broadcast of the game.
That, the local broadcaster said, was when he realized his new Internet endeavor was making a difference with local sports fans.
Besides its regular weekday morning programming, Plemmons and Radio Free Cabarrus have rescued local sports on the "airwaves." Since radio station WEGO-AM (1410) abandoned its locally based format last year, Radio Free Cabarrus ( www.radiofreecabarrus.com) has been Concord's only source for coverage of local high school sports, American Legion baseball and short-track racing.
After covering a full season of high school football, Radio Free Cabarrus broadcast its first prep basketball game - the finals of the Cox Mill Christmas Tournament - on Dec. 30. The Web site plans on a schedule of 10 to 12 basketball games this season.
Plemmons and Bob Brown, a fellow former WEGO news broadcaster, created Radio Free Cabarrus last summer. The longtime radio station let both of them go when it moved out of its Concord office a year ago.
WEGO still plays music, a lineup of adult standards, , but without a Cabarrus County flavor. When it left its Concord office, it also left behind its commitment to its high school football Game of the Week and other local sports coverage.
The station broadcast its last high school football game Nov. 21, 2008, and Plemmons and Brown were off the air by January 2009.
Near the end of that high school basketball season, Plemmons was trying to figure out how he could broadcast the state championship games if the Concord High boys and girls teams advanced that far. He looked into a Web site that allowed visitors to produce their own broadcasts.
Neither of the Concord teams reached the state championship round, but Plemmons' Internet idea was planted. He and Brown met to discuss how they could resurrect their radio programming, with sports and other content.
On June 1, from their Hidden Plaza studio/office in Concord, Plemmons and Brown made their first Webcast with a daily news-oriented morning show, "The Trading Post" shopping show and the "Short Track Racing Report." Soon after, they were covering Concord and Kannapolis American Legion baseball games.
With broadcaster John Voncannon, another ex-WEGO broadcaster, Radio Free Cabarrus aired its first high school football game Aug. 21. They used other cyber-technology - Twitter, Facebook and archiving broadcasts - to give listeners more access to information.
One of Radio Free Cabarrus' challenges, Plemmons said, is converting their formerWEGO audience, an older population, to the new technology of computers. He said the Webcast it is averaging about 550 listeners a day.
One of its biggest fans is Mark Broome, a Hidden Plaza maintenance man who also works the sideline chains at Central Cabarrus High football games. He enjoys listening to archived Vikings games, since he works on Friday nights.
"Some shut-ins have grandkids playing ball, and that's the only way they have of listening to them," Broome said. "And they tell the kids (that are playing) that they can go home and listen to the games."
Plemmons said he and Brown receive encouragement daily, and that from a business standpoint, Radio Free Cabarrus is stable. He said he keeps handing out business cards trying to get the word out about his new medium.