I was 16 in 1976, stocking shelves, filling walk in coolers and operating a cash register at the Weigel's on Western Avenue at Cumberland Estates.
Gary Adkins stopped by almost every night on his way to WKVQ. The Brothers, Gary and Bill Johnson, knew who they were. After getting to know Gary and visiting the station to observe a couple of air shifts, I knew who and what I wanted to be- a radio DJ.
I left for the Navy in 1977 and learned the basics, volunteering weekends at the American Armed Forces Caribbean Network in Puerto Rico.
It was early 1981 when I showed up at Gary's door at WOKI in Oak Ridge. He remembered me and hired me on the spot, sans an air check, and introduced me to Joe Blackmon, WORI PD. Gary had been a Navy broadcast journalist during Vietnam and I suppose he decided to give another sailor a break.
I spent the next 2 years on the air at WOKI/WORI where I met my wife, a regular caller during my all night air shifts. I moved on to WATO in Oak Ridge working with Jeff Moser aka JJ Jeffries. Jeff and I were also spinning vinyl at Steak and Ale with Bob Thomas. And I worked at Flanigan's with Dick Winstead. Two years later I was back in the Navy where I found my niche in PR and print journalism, and continued to dabble on the broadcast side.
It's been 38 years since that first job at WOKI, and I owe much to Gary Adkins. He introduced me to radio, and gave me my first job, setting me on my path as a professional communicator. I'm now a Navy Public Officer in San Antonio preparing to retire. I've had an extremely successful Navy career, 24 years in uniform and 16 in federal service. It all goes back to a Knoxville radio DJ turned PD encouraging me as a 16 year old and eventually giving me a much needed break- my first job in radio!