Thursday, February 22, 2024
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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)
Monday, February 19, 2024
Johnny passed away on February 17...
WLAR Athens to WNOX 990 to WROL (W-149) to WOKI-FM to WNOX-FM NewsTalk...and so much more!
Creative, innovative, larger than life!
The East Tennessee air waves are crying a tear!
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
WEAG in Alcoa became WMDR "The Doctor"!
The DJ line up included...
6 Jim Donovan
10 Paul Vincent
2 Scott Black
6-SO Ted Ousley (Gunner)
Ernie Baker- news director
Ted Teffeteller- sports director
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Possum Riley’s White Christmas
File this one under “Christmas Miracles”.
It was, maybe, five days before Christmas in 1969 and I was doing middays on 1340/WKGN. Newsman Alan Pressley handed me a new weather forecast from the wire. I scanned the forecast and the extended outlook and said, “This can’t be right. There’s no snow on Christmas.”
I called the National Weather Service and connected with a forecaster, who was really good about being teased, and put him on the air. I castigated him for the outlook, saying we needed a white Christmas. He said it would be cold enough, but there wouldn’t be enough moisture. I did “snow dances” in the control room, I played a tight medley of snow songs, I talked up how we were going to have a white Christmas because we were going to will it into being.
On December 23, the forecaster called me, saying there was a slightly improved chance of a little precipitation, but don’t count on it - maybe 10 percent.
The young woman I was dating said her parents would like for both of us to come to their house for a Christmas Eve dinner and stay overnight. I accepted. Light was just creeping into the guest room when I was awakened by Janie’s younger brother, who was shouting, “Possum, you did it!” He opened the drapes and big, feathery flakes were falling. Think the NWS forecaster and I didn’t have a great time on the air during my next show? I checked the NWS climate records today. That 7” snowfall still ranks as Knoxville’s most snow on Christmas Day.
I’m sure glad those powerful listeners were hangin’ with the Possum.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Saturday, January 20, 2024
Monday, January 15, 2024
I also cut some radio teeth running the board for Doc Johnston. CP is right-on. Doc was not the easiest guy to work for. I do for control board work what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door sales. Now, combine that with Doc's temper, and the results were some really colorful chewing out sessions. He could be a real tough person to please sometimes, but Doc also had another side that he would show sometimes. And I think he had a genuine relationship with his listeners.
The control board I ran was an old RCA BC6-A, tube type that got hotter than blue blazes. All of the CBS radio features were delay broadcast, and you had to remember when to roll the tape. For that, you had a Gra-Lab timer like the ones used in photo darkrooms. The delay broadcast programs were recorded on an old Magnecorder- a "Maggie" that Moses used to record his daily program.
Doc was a fantastic piano player, and he always started the program with the tune "Sunrise Serenade". I'm a musician of sorts myself, and I always like to warm up with some scales or exercises or something. Not Doc. He would come in, crack his knuckles, and start right on cue with the old "Woody Herman" song on that baby grand.
The spots were run on old Spotmaster cart machines, the kind that you had to lock in the pinch roller with a lever. Later, we graduated to some newer machines. Remember how the recording would have a bad place on it if you didn't watch the machine and cue past the splice before recording? The telephone coupler was a complex switch arrangement that made putting live telephone calls on the air next to impossible.
Later, I dee-jayed afternoon drive on WBIR. Doc would pre-record the General Shale 5:50 news before he went downstairs to do the WBIR TV news at 6PM. WBIR Radio ran the CBS World News Roundup at 6PM. I still believe that newscast is the best fifteen minutes of radio network news around.
Once, the legendary Lowell Thomas came to town and had to hook-up with the network to run his Lowell Thomas Report from Knoxville. That took some engineering set-up work. Thomas didn't write his own material, which disappointed me. It was dictated to someone at WBIR from the CBS newsroom in New York..possibly written by Mervin Block or one of his colleagues there. Today,..his script could have been e-mailed, and his newscast e-mailed right back to CBS. What a difference between 1976 and 2007!
Back to Doc- I was once told a story about how someone put a piece of steel re-bar across the piano strings of Doc's baby grand. One morning he came in, cracked his knuckles, and at the appointed second, he started his theme...and WHANG ! I was told it sounded more like a sitar than a piano. I never found out for sure who played that prank, but Don Lindsey, now the PR chief for Triple-A was also a Doc sidekick at WBIR, and might have some clues to their identity.
Ken McGavin (McWhorter) was a good boss and a good PD to work for at WBIR. He was even tempered, something that was a real asset in that job. Working for him was a pleasure. I also had the opportunity to work with Ken Johnson, one of the early voices of Knoxville radio from WATE.
Later, when I moved to WSB in Atlanta, I got a call from Anita- Doc's sister. She heard me on-the-air and called to see if I was the same David Foulk that had worked with her late brother in Knoxville. We had several pleasant phone conversations over the next few years.
I am forever thankful for the time I was able to spend at WBIR with the good folks who were there.
Friday, January 12, 2024
When Dave was with WIVK and I was the Tennessee broadcast editor for The Associated Press, Dave would often call-in important stories to the wire (AP is a members-owned news cooperative). Sometimes, a member-supplied story would have "holes" in it- one of the "five Ws" wouldn't be adequately explained or some such. Often, it would take a follow-up call from the AP desk to a police department or an attorney to fill in the hole. Never was this the case with a story Dave phoned in. The who-what-when-where-why questions were firmly nailed down. What Dave gave us were clean, ear-friendly, listenable and very complete stories. He was a magnificent reporter. I also remember the way he used to often end our conversations. "Now y'all be good and don't fight!" (Randall Dickerson aka Possum Riley)
Good morning, George. Hope you're doing well. Hated to hear about Dave Foulk passing. He was the consummate professional. My first radio job when I was 15 was the "Early Bird Show" from 5-6am at WBIR. At 6am "Your Date with Doc" came on with the legendary Doc Johnston and his producer, David Foulk. I just remember Dave's kindness and patience with this 15 year old kid with almost no radio experience. Shaped the way I approached my career in radio. Great broadcaster and even better man. RIP and thank you, Dave. (Randy Miller)
Page 3...send your memories of Dave Foulk to KtownRadio@gmail.com.
Tuesday, January 09, 2024
Monday, January 08, 2024
Fast forward to today and WKGN, still at 1340 and on the FM dial at 105.7, or perhaps more importantly on the "Fan Run Radio" app and via iHeart. The successful format is sports talk with a high propensity to feature Vols fan joe public with commentary and opinion via the telephone call ins.
A new line up debuted today...
The new morning team features Jon Reed, a WKGN vet, and adds Bob Baskerville.
10a-noon is now The GI Jake (Miller) show, with Marcus Young.
Noon-3p it's back to the mother ship with Fox Sports Radio.
The perennial station leader show "The Drive with Russell Smith" is on at 3p and keeps The Bear and adds Houston Kress from mornings.
There's a new evening show...hosted by William Patteson.
...it's still WKGN The Famous 1340, with a football, basketball, and baseball.
Happy Birthday wishes to Phil Williams, one of the top five broadcast personalities in Knoxville radio history.
Sunday, January 07, 2024
Alan sadly informed us that Steve Clark recently passed away in LA at age 80, they were still in touch. Eternal be his memory!