Helping tame the "Mountain Stage" paper tiger was just part of her secretarial duties, but the show was growing.
"When they started doing 40 shows a year, it was really just too much," she said.
McSparin was given a choice. She could keep her job as a secretary for West Virginia Public Radio or she could work for "Mountain Stage." It was a big professional risk.
"You have to understand," she said, "none of us thought this thing would last as long as it has."
But McSparin loved music. She grew up playing piano in her hometown of Clinton, Miss. She played around town, at churches and even gave lessons.
"I haven't really played in years," she laughed. "But there was a time when I was sitting in front of a piano eight hours a day."
She'd come to Charleston because her then husband, Jim McSparin, was an engineer for Peabody Coal. Her job with WVPR seemed stable and safe compared to the radio program, but the radio show was a rare opportunity.
"NPR told us we couldn't do this show in Charleston, West Virginia," she said.
McSparin signed on, and a new job as associate producer grew around her as the show flourished. Learning as she went, getting around minor disasters here and there, McSparin helped create the supporting structure behind "Mountain Stage."
McSparin dotted the i's and crossed the t's. She oversaw contracts, and talked with managers, publicists, record companies and vendors.
With a show like "Mountain Stage," there are details, details and more details and each one of them fits into a huge jigsaw puzzle of agreements, responsibilities and requirements to make the program even possible.
"Because of what she did in the office," Harris said, "is why our show went so smoothly. Because she took care of the big stuff, we could worry about the little things."
McSparin takes some satisfaction in having done her job well.
"It's been a great ride," she said and she has stories, lots of stories.
There was the time that folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliot arrived for a show in an RV. He was so taken with Charleston that he decided to stay awhile. So, for about a week, he stayed with McSparin and her two daughters.
"Every morning," she said, "he'd come down to breakfast all slicked up and decked out. My girls thought that was just the greatest thing."
She contributed to something valuable and had a few adventures along the way. These are great things to look back on, but McSparin said, mostly, she'll miss the people.
"Some of us have worked together so long," she said. "And we're like a family. I'm going to miss being around them."Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.