Meet the Staff:
“I’ve been very blessed and honored to still have people that want me around. You just do things because you enjoy them and hope that [you] still have something to contribute.”
— JR Richardson
UNCBAA is spotlighting our members! We ask their favorite band memories, their role in the band and what they are doing today. Today, we hear from the JR Richardson.
“I like to travel, I like college sports and I like to go to the Angus Barn.” If you know JR Richardson, you also know that this answer is exactly what you would expect if JR was asked for three fun facts. You would also know that JR is an indispensable part of not only the UNC Bands program, but also the greater North Carolina public school and music education communities.
Richardson first became got involved with UNC Bands in the early 1990s, when then-director Jim Hile brought JR onto the UNC Bands staff as an instructor for the Marching Tar Heels (MTH). Since then, JR has hosted countless visiting bands, helped coordinate the MTH pregame show, and supported helped thousands of MTH students Marching Tar Heels excel not only musically and, more importantly,, but personally.
If you were to ask a Marching Tar Heel their favorite JR memory, they may recall the many times JR brought a bag of candy to practice (we all remember a time that a small piece of candy turned a bad day around). They might tell you about the time JR accidently let the football field-sized American flag fly into a fence in the middle of practice. Or, they may recall that JR’s positive, quirky and endearing personality brought a smile to their face at each practice.
As a music educator through and through, JR’s career has lasted nearly half a century. He began his teaching journey at Broughton Magnet High School in Raleigh in 1978. While at Broughton, JR took the Broughton Band to two Tournament of Roses Parades, the World Music Contest in Holland, two King Orange Parades in Miami and the 1989 Presidential Inauguration Parade. His bands also performed for three U.S. presidents and celebrities such as Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey.
More important to JR than the accolades his bands won or the places he traveled was the student experience. When interviewed as part of his WakeEd Hall of Fame induction in 2021, Richardson brought the point home: “My one goal in my entire career was always to give students an opportunity to belong.”
At Broughton, Richardson’s teaching style led many of his students to continue to march in college. Three of these students were Gail (class of ‘79), Anna (class of ‘10) and Caroline (class of ‘12) Sprecher. When we met with the Sprechers, we had not spoken for more than ten minutes before Gail mentioned that she was part of JR’s first class at Broughton. Hearing JR’s name on the call drew smiles and laughs from all of us. JR is the high school band director you remember because of the way he made you feel: supported, cared for, and wondering why you just laughed at one of his bad jokes. And when it was Anna’s turn to learn under JR, she and Gail both remembered that JR made sure to let everyone know that he had taught her mother.
After his retirement in 2012, Richardson has continued working part-time at Underwood Magnet Elementary School as the Instrumental Band Instructor (he also serves as the designated costume-wearer at the carpool line). In addition to the Marching Tar Heels, JR is involved with Pieces of Gold in Raleigh, Music For All/Bands of America and is on the Board of Directors at Theatre in The Park. He has also been inducted into the North Carolina Band Masters Association Hall of Fame and the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame. Finally, in 2012, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor a Governor of North Carolina can bestow upon a citizen.
So why can you still find Richardson on the field with the Marching Tar Heels every Saturday? “I’ve been very blessed and honored to still have people that want me around,” said JR. “You just do things because you enjoy them and hope that [you] still have something to contribute.” Hundreds of Marching Tar Heels would agree: JR’s contributions to the band help make the Marching Tar Heels the Marching Tar Heels.
Thank you, JR, for your significant contributions to music education in North Carolina over the past 50 years. We are lucky to have you as a Marching Tar Heel.
Meet the Members:The Sprecher & Troxler Families “To be in that stadium and watch your child marching in the place where you marched a few years ago…it’s just really special”. — Gail Sprecher, ‘85 UNCBAA is spotlighting our members! We ask their favorite band memories, their role in the band and what they are doing…
Member the Members:Dr. Bobby “Chip” Wood, Jr. “The opportunities for teamwork, leadership, precision, discipline, learning a new show each week and performing in front of large crowds have carried over into my business career.” — Dr. Bobby “Chip” Wood, Jr. ‘89 UNCBAA is spotlighting our members! We ask their favorite band memories, their role in…
Can You Still Hear It? Ronald Campbell ‘98 Do you remember? Do you remember how it felt the first time? I do. In my mind, I can see myself in front of Wilson Library. The warm-up chorale begins. Then, cadence erupts. Finally, we march down Stadium Drive through a crowd of fans and the Rams…