The first time I was ever on radio, I was three years old. My Grandfather knew a local merchant who owned a furniture store in my small West Virginia hometown of Elkins. This man hosted and sponsored a daily one hour country music hour every day at noon on our only local radio station. One afternoon Grandpa took me by the radio station to watch and I ended up singing “Hello Dolly” live. It was a Louis Armstrong hit and one of the first songs I ever learned. Well unbeknownst to everyone but me, I was hooked. It helped that my Dad was a big time radio listener and got me paying attention when he would drive us on trips late at night and pull in those big clear channel AM signals. Ihave vivd memories of sitting in my Dad’s car waiting for my Mom to finish shopping. We listened to NBC’s Monitor Radio. A long-running show that was a radio magazine/variety show. Monitor featured rotating hosts such as Henry Morgan, Hugh Downs and even Arthur Godfrey for a time. I heard everything from sports, to Broadway showtunes.
A few years later I received a clock-radio for Christmas and began my nightly ritual of listening to any stations I could find that interested me. People think talk-radio is relatively new, but I was listening to talk shows on KMOX, WBZ, WCAU, WRVA, WWL, and dozens more when the weather was right. I heard legendary voices like Larry Glick, Bob Raleigh, Jim White, Charlie Douglas, Big John Trimble, Lovell Dyatt, and many many more. Those guys inspired me and piqued my interest in radio. I discovered it was a medium that encouraged a curious person like me to actually ask questions. I also found great sportscasters like Jack Buck, Dan Kelly, Johnny Most, Ken Harrelson and many others. I lost some sleep in my formative years, but it was well worth it to me. i got a radio education like no other.
It wasn’t easy to hear those guys, because all tuners were just dials back then. there was no digital tuning and it wasn’t really a precise thing. About the time I graduated High School I was determined to make radio my career. As I progressed and made my way in the business, I made a point to remember the stations and people I heard as a kid. I used parts of them all to put my on air style together, and I still think it’s the best thing I could have done. What I took from all of them was something that is lacking in radio and media right now. All of them respected the listeners. Nowadays listeners are mocked and made fun of and generally considered too stupid to know what they want. Bad idea.