Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Did you know...

...that East Tennessee radio legend Ed Brantley got his Knoxville start at WNOX 990?!

The 101 Audio Vault features Ed on WIVK-


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Where were you in '72?

It's 1972 at WKGN 1340 and the syndicated Wolfman Jack Show is heard on Sunday nights at 6p. They also were featuring a promotion, re- The Tooth Fairy.

WNOX 990 featured J Worthington Smith in the morning and Your Dave Young afternoons. 

The WNOX announcer strike, what a promo BTW, happened later in the month. This created the birth of King in the 990 and two years later at the brand new WOKI-FM 100.

Don Mclean's American Pie was on top of the music charts.

Joe Sparks was named manager of the AA Knoxville Sox as baseball arrived in the spring.

In April guess who played golf at Fox Den...Arnold Palmer!

In May Eddie Beacon returned to WKGN 1340 as Allen Dennis exited for sister station WMAK Nashville and Brother John scooted up the dial to W-149.

Hop Edwards (great radio name) was manning the morning mic at WETE 620.

WIVK on the air personalities were Claude Tomlinson, Bobby Denton, Ed Brantley, Jimmy Vineyard, and Terry Womack- same cast of characters when I arrived four years later.

That fall I was elected student government president at Bearden Junior High and my VP was...Coach Holly Warlick.

...and that's a stroll down our 101 memory lane from 1972! 

Monday, April 22, 2024

Loren Owens teamed with Wally Brine for almost 40 years as the morning DJs on 105.7 WROR in Boston. 

Before that, Loren was Jefferson Kaye on WKGN 1340.

Here are comments from our 101 Facebook post-

Bob Catron...interesting that they tagged it "Great Day in the Morning". WIVK hired a PD whose husband was theater head at UT. Can't remember her name. Claude the Cat was back on the air doing mornings after Kenny Dearstone left. The new gal had us all (except Claude) taking speech classes in Bobby's basement office, and gave this same name to Claude's show "Great Day".

Bob Anderson aka Bandit...That was Mamie Harris, husband Al the theater head. She hired me after I left WKGN in '72 or '73. Even helped getting job with Opryland as radio/media director before I graduated from UT. I worked with Jefferson at WKGN in '71, total pro. Recall he went to Detroit then Denver. Operations Manager for entire stations group.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

It's a 101 Reload, first posted in January 2021 from...Possum Riley-

I was thinking about some of the folks who energized Knoxville radio over the years. The market was lucky to have some of the best in the business. What they did there and their successes in larger markets later solidified their place in the ethers.

A couple of them are still around Ktown. Dr. Al Adams got the most mileage out of 250 watts ever when he did the night show on WKGN in the '60s. Al and his sidekicks Willard Duck and Witch Hazel were frantic fun. John Pirkle was a different kind of success. "Johnny" was really good on air at WNOX and did a fine job programming it. His real contributions came as he designed AOR W149 and then bought that Oak Ridge FM that became a flamethrower, which he later sold to the WIVK ownership.

I think the guy with the best innate sense of how to reach listeners though, might have been the late Allen Dennis, who was a WKGN standout and then became the morning man on WMAK when George Mooney bought that Nashville station. Allen wasn't flashy, but you couldn't turn him off. He connected at heart level.

Claude Tomlinson had a longtime successful home at WIVK and was absolutely beloved by his listeners. Bobby Denton did very well there too, from personality to program director to general manager.

Joe Sullivan arrived at WKGN with his mattress strapped to his car roof. It wasn't long before he was the station program director, then PD at WMAK and Mooney's national PD. He got into concert promotion in Nashville and did a handshake management deal with a young singer named Charlie Daniels. He finally was making too much promoting to stay in radio; his "Sound 70" company having taken off.

Dave Diamond preceded Joe and went to St. Louis and the west coast. He had a national reputation.

I brought in a morning man and named him "Jefferson Kaye". He went on to Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Denver before settling in for a decades long run in Boston under his own name- Loren Owens.

Still, whenever I think of Knoxville radio, I always remember the late Sonny Knight. He was one of the kindest, hardest working and genuine radio people I ever was privileged to work with.

Thanks for hangin' with a Possum named Riley and may God grant us all a better 2021. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

WATO 1290 AM Oak Ridge

Back in the summer of 1978, Randy Miller began to spread his wings, adding afternoon drive at WATO to his weekend gig at WIVK.

In May, Randy took over the 4-8p time slot for WATO which operated from 6a to midnight daily.

6-10 J. Michael Earl

10-12 Marie Shelton

12-4 Jeff Caylor

4-8 Randy Miller 

8-12 Mike Moore

Randy continued to host three overnight shows on WIVK-FM 108, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night. I was a weekend DJ at WIVK too, along with Bob Thomas and Suitcase Simpson.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

About this time 50 years ago (not a typo) a magnificent blow torch started rocking out of the Atomic City, WOKI-FM "The Only One". As was typical, Johnny Pirkle was ahead of his time...voice tracking the DJs, or automation as it was penned at that time. 

The original line up was King in the Morning, Dave Lambert, Jack Bean, Johnny Pirkle, Mike Beverly, and JL Meyers. 

The 101 Audio Vault features "Carson King", he previously had been the morning DJ on WNOX 990.


Sunday, March 24, 2024

Newsman Bob Agee on WIVK in 1976, oh what pipes! Here's the 101 Audio Vault~


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

It's early 1980 at WBIR-FM 103.5 (Rock 104)...the DJs are Steve Tipton, Kim Mayo, Keith Lambert, and Carson Cooper!

The Oct/Nov 1979 book came out in early February 1980...WIVK-FM was on top with a 20.9 share, WEZK-FM followed with a 16.4, WNOX (AM) at 11.9, WRJZ 9.9, WIVK AM at 8.5, WOKI-FM 100 7.7, WBIR-FM 6.3, and WKGN at 1.3.

Mike Beach left WKGN in January 1980, in February he took over mornings at Rock 104. At that time Kerry Lambert, the PD, (Keith Lambert on the air), switched with Kim Mayo, as she became afternoon drive, and he worked middays.

In May...Dave Elrod joined Rock 104 and Mike Beach in the morning slot. 

"Rock 104 is WIMZ Knoxville...crank it up!" The calls were changed from WBIR to WIMZ and the DJ line up was Beach/Elrod, Keith Lambert 10-2, Kim 2-7, Dan 7-12, and Carson Cooper 12-6.

In the fall of 1980...Rick Kirk is heard in the morning on WIMZ Rock 104...but as 1980 comes to a close, Rick Kirk returned to WRJZ and Mike Beach returned to WIMZ teaming with newsman Jerry Howell in the morning. Beach also hosted "The Noon Flashback" daily.

In 1981 Phil Williams spent most of the year at WMYU (U-102) as afternoon drive, but in November he returned to WNOX mornings.

...and in the spring of 1982 Phil Williams joined WIMZ and teamed with Mike Beach as Beach and Williams! The rest of the lineup was Dan 10a-3p, Lambert 3-7p, Sheri 7p-12a and Ed Knight 12a-6a.

The 101 Audio Vault features Beach and Williams-


Wednesday, March 06, 2024

101 Reload- regarding Ron Ashburn (originally posted in December 2008)...

 101 received a lot of info regarding Ron Ashburn, the Ktown news anchor staple for decades. We hear from Your Dave, Bill Beason, and Sir Bernard~

"Hey Greek. To SS who asks about Ron Ashburn here is the story. Ron was from Kansas where he attended the University of Kansas. At the end of WW II, Ron was discharged from the U.S. Army and arrived in NYC. His goal was to work in New York possibly on Broadway, in an agency or for a network. He applied at all the networks and was told there were no openings at the time. At CBS, Ron was well received and was told about an opening in Knoxville at WNOX. At that time there was auditions for a national account at an ad agency. Not knowing who the client was, nor the pay, Ron auditioned for the read. It was a short read only 4 words, but, those 4 words are probably the most famous in advertising history. For his work, Ron received $50.00 and a carton of the product. The last line of the commercial.... Pell Mell famous cigarettes, "Outstanding", AND THEY ARE MILD". Ron arrived at WNOX in the late 40's where he remained until he retired in the 80's. He had a sweet delivery and nothing you could do would shake him up while on the air." (Dave Young)

"Hey 101! I remember Ron Ashburn! He was a very professional newsman that serviced in the Pacific Theatre covering World War 2. After the war, Ron worked for United Press International before moving back to Knoxville and becoming a newsman for WNOX. Mr. Ashburn's famous tag line; "And they are mild" was for Pall Mall cigarettes. Someone else spoke the word "Outstanding" which proceeded Ron's statement to make the complete tag line; "Outstanding! And they are mild". For his part, Ashburn was given a carton of Pall Mall a week for life. As far as working with Ron Ashburn, I considered it an honor! He never failed to meet me in the hall or come into the control room to say hello or ask how my day was going. If Ron liked you he would do anything for you. One day while I was serving as interim PD at WNOX, Ron got word that a new Program Director had been hired and he got upset that I would be fired. He went to then GM Pete Dryer and told him he would leave if I was fired. When I was let go, along with Dryer, Ron retired several months later. I lost touch with him when I went to Nashville and have often wondered what became of him. Ron Ashburn was a great newsman and I often think of his professionalism and warm personality." (Bill Beason aka Buzz Dailey)

"Hi, it's 'Sir' Bernard or plain old Bernie Quayle as I am nowadays. SS asked if anyone had memories of Ron Ashburn, I certainly do. I was doing the breakfast show on WNOX one Saturday morning, I think it was 1970. Ron Ashburn was the duty newsman. Like every Saturday we were expected to test the Emergency Broadcast System. A simple procedure that went like clockwork - except this morning. Ron came into the studio, the colour drained from his face, his hands were shaking as he asked me to hand over to him. I could not believe what happened next. The message was so grave, I truly believed World War 3 had started. NORAD had once before detected what it believed to be missiles headed towards America but they did not alert the population at that time - we were now on full alert. I've reproduced part of the text from the Knoxville Sentinel the day after the event. It was almost as if they had a war and nobody came. Only it wasn't a war. It was a mistake on the part of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), at Colorado Springs. Instead of the regular test message NORAD sends broadcasting stations across the nation every Saturday morning, NORAD sent the real thing. "This is an emergency action notification directed by the President. Normal broadcasting will cease immediately. Only stations holding NDEA (National Defense Emergency Alert; may stay on the air. WNOX was the NDEA station for the area, the one that stays on the air to broadcast at such times and is what I had to broadcast: "The President of the United States has directed that we interrupt our normal program. This is the Emergency Broadcast system; Normal broadcasting has been discontinued for an indefinite period during an emergency action condition. This station WILL continue broadcasting to furnish news, official information and instructions." I can tell you that until the correction came half an hour later, Ron and I were quaking in our boots. The most amazing thing was that all the other stations seemed to have either not noticed or ignored the alert. As SS stated, Ron's news delivery was awesome." (Sir Bernard)

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hello from Curtis Parham...

One of my execs at WOKI with one of our daughters, Miranda. Julie and I are still great friends. Not room in a small house for two radio egos. Miranda is in LA now producing for Netflix. Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Apparently AP picked up the story and put it on the wire. (Curtis Parham)

More from CP~ Johnny called me last fall to ask a question and we wound up talking for about an hour. Somehow we got on the subject of our beginnings in radio. Johnny was working for the funeral home in Etowah, and one of the duties (in addition to driving the hearse and family car) was to take the obits to the local radio station, WCPH. "There I was in my black suit and tie, never smiling. All the guys in the station were laughing, drinking coffee and Cokes, and smoking cigarettes. That just looked like a lot more fun than what I was doing, so I pestered the owner until he gave me a job." Johnny always was a salesman, RIP, JP.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Remembering Johnny~

In the mid 60's "Teen Time"...showcasing live bands was on some Friday nights in Lenoir City. I was 13-14 and went to one show SPECIFICALLY to see Johnny. He was larger than life. He was bringing live local bands on a rotating schedule on the same nights...Farragut, then Lenoir City...Clinton...Oak Ridge...Alcoa. He had PA's set up at every location...and came to every location to see and be seen, plus...keep the machine oiled! The bands just walked in... plugged in and let it rock. Little Joe and the Apollos...Donnie and the Lads..."The Hawk". Sweet William and the Sterios...and many more came to us live thanks to Johnny. Obviously, he was making big time cash! A true innovator. Years later...I ended up in Knoxville radio and met Johnny for the 1st time. I had a great relationship with him always. I never actually worked FOR Johnny, but always had a great respect for his forward vision for business. Truly one of a kind. Always a smile and a firm handshake...and kind words. Johnny Pirkle was a true star! (Mike Beach)

I was thinking of Johnny over the weekend...guess now I know why. Johnny and Mike Beverly took me in as an ambitious 16-year-old when WORI was on the air in Oak Ridge and WOKI-FM 100 was being launched. Johnny was a legend in the Knoxville market and a big presence in my life throughout the years. My prayers go out to his family especially Jonathan, Leigh, and Monique who I grew up with in Oak Ridge. (Dave Lambert)

Johnny Pirkle was a giant among Knoxville radio folks. He was my worthy competitor during the time he programmed WNOX and I programmed WKGN and we became friends afterward. Requiescat in Pace John. (Possum Riley)

Johnny got to do the things in life he loved all of his life. He made such an impact on the business and people throughout his career. He's one of the last local owners in the business and he rode the radio wave till the end. He will be missed. Prayers for his family and friends. (Kerry Lambert)

I worked for/with Johnny at WOKI for 12 years. It was an honor...he was incredible. (Jerry Howell)

So sorry to hear of Johnny's death. Great boss, mentor, and friend. (Scott Sams)