Monday, August 31, 2015

Memories from Brian Stevens..."Rock of Knox"~

You might remember that I grew up in Greenfield, IN -- home of early 70's Vols basketball great Mike Edwards. Somewhere in elementary school or junior high, my Dad coached Mike. So when Ray Mears recruited "the Greenfield Gunner" to Knoxville, the several times a season road trips from Greenfield to Knoxville were inevitable. 

Now I loved radio. Ate, slept, dreamed radio. I always had a transistor AM radio with me. Even on those early 1970s road trips. I soon learned that WNOX was the first Knoxville station I could pick up heading south on I-75. We'd top that ridge between Jellico and Caryville and through the ever lessening static I'd hear American Top 40 Saturday afternoons on WNOX. 

Once in town, I'd tune by WKGN or WETE or WJBE, but WNOX was my station. Obviously. WNOX was home to John Ward and the Vol Basketball Network. Who else would I listen to? My Dad loved Opera. My Mom loves Big Band. They hated the top 40 that WNOX played in those days. So I'd listen through one of those awful plastic ear pieces. The sound was painful, but I didn't care. It was WNOX.

From that first road trip of Mike's 1970-1971 Sophomore season (remember that Frosh couldn't play varsity in those days), WNOX was always the first thing I'd listen to approaching Caryville. The tradition lasted long after Mike had graduated. Through the 70s and most of the 1980s, the radio always landed on 990 first. 

As the 80s passed, adulthood and work meant I almost never dialed into WNOX from Indiana. I was working at an FM AC in Indianapolis and spent less and less time tracking what was happening at 'NOX or with country music radio. I listened when they changed to country when Mack Sanders bought them. I knew that they'd struggled through different owners since then. 

But what I didn't know was that 990 had gone off the air when I made a vacation trip to the Smokeys in July 1988. Approaching Caryville, it was nothing but static. Lake City, static. Norris, still static. I stopped at what I think was an old Smokey Mountain Market on Emory Road and called from the pay phone. Someone from the FM picked up. That's when I'd discovered that 990 had been off the air for several months. The call letters now on an FM in Jefferson City. 

There are those moments in life that are passage points. Transitions where you know things will never be the same. Reluctantly, I got back in the car and clicked over to Brother Clay on WOKI. For me, at 29 years old, WNOX not being there as I approached Knoxville was one of the last of those discovery moments when something else of your childhood is gone.

I'd been in Gatlinburg for a couple of days. But I kept thinking about what had happened to WNOX. Now in September 1981, I'd dropped off a tape and resume for John E. Douglas. But I never went beyond the lobby that day. I knew the FM was still on from Whittle Springs. I wondered if I might get someone to give me a tour of the old place. 

I called. The PD said yes. I've since forgotten his name. I hopped in the car and drove back to Knoxville. Got there to find the front door wide open. No one in the lobby. The building was dark. But the sound of Whitney Houston's "Love Will Save the Day" was coming from the FM studio down the hall. I headed that direction. 

It was 90 degrees that day. There was no AC on in the building It was like a sauna. I could hear the sound of an oscillating fan as I approached the one room with lights on. The FM air studio. The jock was startled as I knocked on the door to make myself known. I remember that FM studio looking very temporary, like they were planning to move soon. 

The jock called the PD. He met me. We walked around the building. He used a Coleman camping lantern to light the way through parts of the building. I seem to remember that the walls of the darkened auditorium appeared a pale blue in the harsh lantern light. Even then it smelled of mold and dust. I doubt if it had been used in years. 

Eventually we worked our way back to the studios and news room. I wish I'd had a camera. You could tell that Scripps spared no expense. Carpet on the walls to help acoustics were common then. But WNOX had taken it one step further. The old 70s WNOX logo was cut into the carpet. Impressive.

The gear in production was still functional. I'm thinking it was an Auditronics board, circa 1978 or so. ITC Triple Play and a recorder. A pair of old Scully reel to horses built like a wood sided tank or battleship. Great gear. And I was wondering what the air studio would look like. 

Disappointment. Who ever the last owner was had sold the gear from the air studio. All that remained was the dust covered studio furniture. Holes where the board and turntables once sat. A couple of booms with cable but no mics. You could tell where the cart machines once were. Just the wall mounted cart racks remained. 

The faint scent of stale cigarette smoke and burned coffee remained. I stood where the jocks would have. Thought of guys like Eddy Roy and Dick Winstead who'd once stood there. I could imagine the sound of that hot nighttime skywave signal playing from where those monitors once were. Those Pams' "Rock of Knox" jingles and that legal ID voiced by Ron Ashburn..."WNOX Knoxville. This will be our finest hour." 

I succeeded in not showing my true emotion. But it was heartbreaking. For me, WNOX would have been a dream job. I loved that station that much. And here I was. Standing where it once was. Now just a shell. I looked at the cart rack. Just one cart remained. The closer cart from the 1988 season of UT basketball broadcasts. Looking back, I should have pocketed it. But I left it where it was. Something of a last memorial to the WNOX I'd loved and what first introduced me to it, John Ward and the Vol Basketball Network. 

I probably didn't stand there for a minute. But it seemed like hours. All the memories that were rushing back. I looked toward the window between the studio and the news room. I thought of the old news guys like Ashburn and Colvin Idol. Even the younger guys like Jim Fairchild and H. J. Booker. 

But I kept going back to the days of Eddy Roy. Thinking about Roy in the Morning. And thinking about Paul Oscar Anderson railing on the politicians, questioning ideas like a World's Fair, and doing all those endorsement spots in the newscast. And I realized that as long as we held onto those memories, that empty and dusty old studio in a small way lives on. And will live on, long after the Whittle Springs building is gone. 

All that to lead to this. Your website is part of how we hold onto those memories. It's a resource. It's a treasure. And George, allow me to end this far too long e-mail with a simple "thank you."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Welcome to the 101 Audio Vault, let's travel to 1997 and Doug Hullander on "MY 102", WMYU Sevierville~


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

HBD to Mike Beck!!!

Today 101 travels into our Facebook world again! There was a story posted about the old WNOX building on Whittle Springs Road being auctioned off, here's the banter~

Chris Lash~ I've been in it in the last 6 months, so much history.

Phil Jarnagin~ Mold and asbestos. The building will be more expensive to tear down than the property is worth.

Jerry Howell~ A lot of history there...and personal history. My oldest daughter, Laura, was a baby when I worked there. She would sleep in her carrier in the floor beside me while I did my show on WNOX and took some of her first steps in the lobby by the spiral staircase.

Steve Fritts~ I remember they built this in anticipation of getting channel 8.

Walter Erbaugh~ If those walls could talk, it could keep us entertained for a long time.

Bill Miller~ My father was one of the foremen who built it. The company was George W. Reagan Construction Company. I believe it was the late 1950s or early 60s. He was very proud of the outside brick work. Although I worked for several radio stations in town, I never worked for WNOX or in that building. The comfortable auditorium was supposed to save the live Mid-day Merry Go Round, but it helped kill off the show. People wouldn't drive all the way out to "the edge of Knoxville" to be in the audience. I looked into buying the building a few years ago (for the auditorium), but between the asbestos and the liens, a purchase and renovation wasn't close to being feasible. The building isn't likely to be used again.

Lynn Fuson~ My last radio job was at WNOX in this building before moving into the print phase of my career. I was working here when John Lennon was killed. As a Top 40 station, all their music was on carts. I had to go home and fetch my Beatles and post-Beatles Lennon records for the on air staff to play the next day. Of course none of them were marked like I remember them being at WKGN, e.g., "Intro :07" or "ends cold" so even when they knew the songs they were kind of flying blind, not to mention that a few of them had never worked a turntable. Interesting and sad time to be there.

Don Lindsey~ The horror on the WNOX news director's face was clear when the program director told him to hire me. I was the first person to try out without an East Tennessee accent. The problem was that I had no experience whatsoever, and I n the summer of '67 NOX was the number one station. It took a week but wiser heads prevailed and I was out, but that week in that building gave me a bug that's never gone away. Sorry to see the building go away.

James Fleenor~ It would be nice if the current WNOX would pay tribute to the history of those call letters. Even though it's not anywhere near the same they could still do something really cool with that station if they wanted especially since it's playing classic hits now.

Phil Jarnagin~ Good point James. And those calls are now back in the hands of Scripps-Howard.

Paige M. Travis~ I've heard that the sad shape of this building is due to some water drainage issues that were never resolved.

Bill Miller~ Once I visited several years ago and rain was gushing (not dripping) into the auditorium and main lobby. I assume there have been years of heavy rain damage.

Mike Clark~ I paid a visit one afternoon to Mike Beach when he started doing afternoons there. One high spot of that visit: he introduced me to the legendary Ron Ashburn.

Mike Kelly~ I emceed a great day of music there several years ago. It was a benefit for the late Glenn Laney of The Knoxville Grass. Several amazing musicians made for some wonderful memories in that historic venue. Sad to see it in this state.

Mike Clark~ My friend Mark Cawood has some pictures he took of this building, inside and out. I'll see if I can get him to post them.

Dave Jeffries~ I did news there in the 80's. Loved it there. So sad to see it in such disrepair. I really hope whoever gains ownership will be able to honor the history of the property.

James S. Kennedy~ WNOX was my connection to the outside world from 1966-1972. WNOX gave rock and roll credibility with its 10,000 watt signal, great playlist and jocks, brilliant promotions, and credible news. I'm very sad also to see the building die.

Becky Lynn Ottinger~ I loved listening to WNOX when I was young... it was my favorite and I had the chance to do an internship there in the newsroom when I was at UT! Dream come true smile emoticon

Sunday, August 23, 2015

WSEV AM off the air...

Here are some comments from our interactive 101 Facebook page...

Kent Teffetelle~ Very sad occasion. Hopefully, there will be someone interested in resuming operations with a suitable local format.

Don Lindsey~ Serious bummer. My first real job, running from '67 to '69. Learned so much there and worked with really good people. In just one job you knew how to operate a sling hydrometer (sp?) in the official weather station out back, and how freon makes iron dust go away from tape heads and pinch rollers, and the havoc that comes when grasshoppers get in the horn gaps ... not to mention the basics of good radio. The people there were always great!

Mike Clark~ A very sad day.

Charles Ketron~ Truly a sad day. Back in the 50's, we were known as THE VACATION STATION OF THE NATION. Many great radio personalities cut their teeth at 930AM. It was special.

Page 3...

Bring on The Brothers! Happy Birthday to Gary Adkins!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Look what I found...

Searching on YouTube 101 found this classic air check of 101 Wall of Famer legend Johnny Pirkle on WNOX from '69...


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Here's a 101 classic...Dan Bell on WIVK AM 850, circa~ early 1980's!

Send your photographs and memories to 101, would love some control room classics!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hi George,

Any idea where Wayne Swan is these days (aka: Michael Man The Hit Man)? I worked with him in the early 90's at I-100. 

When I first met him he was larger than life. I was a new hire at WOKI and they had me work the overnight shift with The Hitman. When I walked in I introduced myself and said "I am here to train with you". So I sat with him and observed for about an hour. He asked if I wanted to give it a try. I said "Sure!" and was very nervous being on the air for the first time. Before I could even open the mic he disappeared. I didn't know where he went and I happened to look out of the studio window from the 6th floor and saw him get in his car to make a food run! Talk about butterflies, he threw me in and it was sink or swim. When he came back he laughed and laughed and thought it was funny but said the best way to learn is to jump in the water. 

Attached is some audio I thought you might like.


Mike Bridges
Panama City, FL 


Page 3...

Couple of Happy Birthday wishes today-

Mickey Dearstone, program director and morning host on WNML!

David Steele, Knoxville native and voice of Orlando Magic!

Monday, August 10, 2015 the beginning

Some mild mannered, caring radio owner or programmer gave each of us our start, for me it was Earl Lauderdale at WBLC 1360 in Lenoir City, April 12, 1976...what memories!

What about you, who gave you your start?

After passing my 3rd class license test I started knocking on doors and wound up working weekends on Browder Hill! The WBLC line up featured Earl from 6-9a, Bob McKeehan 9-noon, and Rick Smith until sign off!

If memory serves me others called WBLC their first stop on the radio merry go round...Mike Beach, Bob Thomas, Scott Sams, Allen Free, etc.

From the 101 InBox~

"I was visiting my mom in Loudon this weekend and found this in the top drawer in a bedroom. It's from WBLC 1360, Lenoir City around 1969. That was my first job in radio!" (Jerry Howell)

Page 3-

Happy Birthday this weekend to Channing Smith!!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

He's back...

We welcome back the legendary 101 Wall of Famer DAVE FOULK to NewsTalk 98.7 WOKI!!! (Dave filled in for HHH this morning).

Today the 101 Audio Vault travels to early 1987 and WNOX 990! The DJs at that time were Jerry Caylor, Bill Early, Ray Edwards, and Bob Love~


Page 3...

Birthday wishes this week to Mike Beach!!!

Friday, July 31, 2015

WOKI-FM was the creation of Johnny Pirkle which followed his creation of W-149! Radio innovation in the 70's was incredible as so many stations had such individualistic sounds and personalities! 

The 101 Audio Vault captures JJ Randle, Gary Beach, and Ron Harper on the then 100.3 FM dial position~


Monday, July 27, 2015

Here's a 101 Reload (1st posted in 2011)~

It's the fall of 1975 in Ktown and the big wrestling names hitting the mat each week are Ron Wright, Jimmy Golden, Rock Hunter, and Ron Fuller. Jim Hess and then Les Thatcher provided the play by play on the telly!

The BasketVols featured Ernie and Bernie, Mike Jackson, and Doug Ashworth.

In November Randy Tyree beat Kyle Testerman for the Knoxville mayor job.

In December WROL is sold...and 15Q was right around the corner!

Here are some DJ line ups~

WOKI FM 100...Johnny Pirkle 530-10, Russ Skinner 10-3, Suitcase Simpson 3-7, Mike Beverly 7-12, and JL Myers 12-530.

WNOX 990...Eddy Roy 6-10, Todd Martin 10-3, Dick Winstead 3-7, The Aardvark 7-12, Russ Brown 12-6.

WETE 620...Harry Robert Shaw 5-9, Jim Humphries 9-2, Walker Johnson 2-6, Joe Crotty 6-10, Carl Warner 10-12, Ernie the Bartender 12-5.

W-149...Alan Douglas 6-10, Gary Adkins 10-12, Dave Elrod 12-4, Bill Johnson 4-8, Leslie Sheiler 8-12, and Frank Costa 12-6.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mike Beach...


Page 3...

Happy Birthday to Paul Lyle! Paul was sports director at WIVK in the mid 70's before heading west (Nashville) when Dick Broadcasting purchased WKDA...and the rest is history!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There are 1000's of names, faces, voices that are seldom mentioned 101 wants to hear from you via photographs, memories, air checks, etc!

Remember these Ktown radio people?

Sam Thrower

John Boomer

Doc Fidler

Pete Dryer

George Crenshaw

Bill Stamps

Walt Brooks

Bob Byerley

Ray Davidson

...Doc Fidler became GM at WRJZ when I worked there in '82, he was brought in by owners Sherwood-Hennes. Pete's wife Trudy Dryer was my first grade teacher~ little fun tidbits are fun to add to our 101 blog. So type away and press send!!!