CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Her office isn't packed up yet, but that's coming. On Thursday, Linda McSparin, executive producer for the annual "Bob Thompson's Joy to the World" holiday show and associate producer for the "Mountain Stage" radio show, will help usher in one more show.
It's not her last, but it's close.
"This year's Joy to the World [the 19th annual show] was going to be my last," she said, then shook her head.
"Then Bob said 19 was a pretty good number to go out with." Good, but not really good enough.
She sighed and said, "I told him I'd come back and produce the show next year."
So, one more show for McSparin after Thursday -- but when "Mountain Stage" kicks off their new season Jan. 15 in Morgantown, she won't be there. After 27 years with the show, McSparin is retiring.
"I'd planned to stay until the end of the year," she said. "But I've got a grandchild due in a couple of weeks."
So, she's leaving a little early, Dec. 23, shortly before her 62nd birthday.
McSparin leaving represents the second major departure from "Mountain Stage" management. Executive producer and show co-creator Andy Ridenour retired in June and turned over the reins to Adam Harris, who joined the show in 2005, first as an intern.
Harris said of McSparin, "I absolutely wouldn't be here without her."
He said when he was first trying to land the internship, McSparin was the first person to respond to his query. She was also the person who brought him in for the interview, introduced him around and provided what is considered training for "Mountain Stage."
"It's a real feet-to-the-fire method," he said and laughed. "You learn by doing. You learn by making mistakes."
Well, little mistakes, because in a detail-oriented operation like "Mountain Stage," most of the big mistakes were made decades ago.
McSparin joined the program in its infancy in 1984, when she was hired as a part-time secretary for West Virginia Public Radio.
"Mountain Stage" was still just getting started and still figuring out what kind of radio show it wanted to be. They were largely flying by the seat of their pants.
"When I came in, they had no files, no system," McSparin said.
And no secretary. McSparin said Ridenour would book bands, then assemble a show. They were still learning, and the paperwork was a bit jumbled.