While prowling through some old files this weekend, I came across a photo from 1966. Taken in the long-gone WKGN control room on Cumberland Avenue, this shot reminded me of how many aspiring east Tennessee radio and TV professionals got their start thanks to the late George Mooney.
Back then, I was not much of a Top 40 DJ, and had just proven that in a series oh-early-thirtyMonday morning air shifts. However, WKGN also stood for "Where Knoxville Gets News." A few days after my "last shot at an 'air slot,' " I overheard The Voice of the Vols telling (in that marvelous thundering voice) PD Joe Sullivan to keep me on as a news stringer. "Get him a Press Card and the Uher (a high quality reel-to-reel tape recorder) and make sure he gets airtime," Mooney said in an overheard conversation.
I cannot recall their names, but Mr. Mooney also gave career boosts to many others during that time. Young talent recorded commercials, answered phones in the evenings, did occasional newscasts, and got invaluable practical experience.
With the ownership of many stations now in the hands of nationwide conglomerates, those priceless training opportunities are gone. And broadcasting is poorer for this sort of "progress." However, Knoxville, and the Vols, and scores of young media professionals are VERY fortunate that George Mooney came our way. Thank you, again, Mr. Mooney.