Claude Tomlinson signed WIVK on the air back in 1953.
For the next 40 years, his was the voice of the station.
The 101 Audio Vault travels to Claude signing off the Great Day program for the final time...
...our previous post featured a groovy article from WKGN alum Possum Riley, he mentioned his pal, the late great Sonny Knight.
Didn't you love these weekly pamphlets, pictures of DJs, Top 40 songs listings, etc.
Remember Sonny? Send your stories, fact or fiction, to KtownRadio@gmail.com.
I remember WATO and WETQ...It was still owned by Rau Radio at the time. I got my first job in radio there in 1982 after attending Russ Skinner's Professional Academy of Broadcasting and following my stint as an Antique Photos photographer at the World's Fair. I was interviewed and hired by PD Jeff Mosier, aka J.J. Jeffries. I worked the morning drive shift, which was my first experience in going to work before the sun came up -- quite a departure from my previous life as a professional student majoring in partying! The news director at the time was (Margaret?) Fifield and the station manager was Ken Mynatt, who I think I heard was working in the sheriff's department in Kingston,TN...correct me if I'm wrong. WATO is where I became an avid Braves fan after working the boards for both Braves and UT football games. I still have dreams about being on the air in that old building on the dead end Eastburn Lane in Oak Ridge -- it was dilapidated even then! I still drive by it every now and then, which probably fuels the dreams, and it is almost in shambles. The last time I was there, the old tower was lying in tall grass in the back. A few months after being hired, WATO changed its format to Big Band/Oldies or, as it was referred to by J.J., "music by dead people." Needless to say, he wasn't very happy about the change and soon left for greener pastures -- unfortunately I lost touch with him after he left. I eventually became program director at WATO and also worked infrequently on the country side (WETQ-FM). Other people I worked with before leaving included Greg Patterson, Tommy Rowe, Melanie and David Shirk, who was hired as our news director. I left WATO in 1983 to take a job as a news anchor at U102, which was still in Sevierville at the time, working for and with Roger Hawkins (News Director), David Henley, Mike Clark and Darla Medway. I remember working in the news department the day the space shuttle Challenger blew up...very sad. I also got to meet Dolly Parton and dub the original music to cassettes used by Dollywood as the park’s background music when it opened in 1986 -- it was all Dolly Parton songs as I recall. Dolly's manager had called me (I had become production manager position by then) and asked if I could work with Dolly to dub and select the songs to be used. She was going to come by the station to do it, but he told me not to tell anyone for fear of a crowd showing up. I kept the secret, sort of...about 30 minutes before she was to arrive, I decided to at least tell PD Bill Miller and Gary Downs (station manager) about it. Somehow word spread, and a crowd showed up anyway! I remember how friendly and natural Dolly was. She put me totally at ease as we worked together in the old production room in Sevierville. I remember she put her hand on my arm as we talked -- I didn't wash that arm for weeks. U102 DJ's at the time included Dave Dunaway, Tom Van Hart, Larry Trotter, Phil Jarnigan, and Mark Herzog. Later, CP and Walker and Jeff Jarnigan also joined the staff just before the station moved to Knoxville at 8419 Kingston Pike in an old bank building in front of the BooksAMillion at Walker Springs Rd. I ended up realizing I couldn't make enough money in radio to attract a wife, given that my rugged, good looks weren't doing the trick, so I went back to school and became a software developer. Now I have a wife and 2 daughters who, thankfully, look like their mother. Sorry to be long- winded, but waxing nostalgic is fun! Love the blog -- keep up the good work. (Bill Edwards)
...I began playing DJ! (I still play DJ)!
On December 1, 1971, yes 50 quick years ago, my mind created WGMV 1300 Knoxville. (my initials). Ever since I have been playing DJ in my car, at work, you name it.
My DJ line up on that day included:
6-10 George Roy
10-3 Bill Drake
3-7 Jack Arrow
7-12 Eddie Bond
12-6 Chip Guberalski
And the list of made up names, made up stations and made up personalities is now 50 years old. I moved a few times, so I added stations in Birmingham, South Florida, Atlanta, and my current hometown of Orlando.
The good news for me, the DJs at my stations are all still live and local, ha.
Did you play DJ? Send your story, fact or fiction to KtownRadio@gmail.com.
Here's to the next 50!
Frank Erwin checked in to say hello. Like many Ktown radio legends, Frank migrated west eventually to the Music City.
While at WKGN in the '70s, Frank worked every time slot from over nights to drive time.
Frank has an updated web domain- FrankErwinProductions.com
I recently visited the refurbished Farragut Hotel in downtown Knoxville. I wanted to see if the old spot where WGYW/WJBE radio station was located still existed. I was disappointed to see that the plaque on the wall said James Brown bought in 1969 which is incorrect. On the blog post it says the station was purchased in 1967 which is also incorrect.
I was a student at the Fulton High School broadcasting class from 1962-1966 with Joanna Huffman as instructor. My junior year (1965) I was an intern for Bob Baron at night at WKGN when I first met owner George Mooney who was the "Voice of the Vols" at that time. That started my lifelong pursuit of of being a play by play sportscaster (more on that later). I also had the opportunity to do some work with Dr. Al Adams (Johnson).
My senior year in high school was 1966 and if you had enough credits and you had a job working in your chosen field, you could get out of school half a day to work. I was fortunate enough to get the afternoon drive show on WGYW "Countrypolitan Radio" in May of 1966. I replaced Big Jim Hess who was leaving radio to go to the new WTVK television station. Dr. Al also did a show on the new TV station called "Discoteen" which was a takeoff of American Bandstand. Toni Cline who was a classmate of mine at Fulton also got a job at WGYW as the secretary/receptionist at the same time I worked there.
I thought it was a great job because it was in the basement of a fancy hotel and right across Gay Street was Nan Denton's Orange Julius which is where we ate everyday before going on the air at 3pm. All of the other DJs including Cousin George Goins were looking for other jobs. I had only been there for about a month when I found out why everyone was leaving. James Brown was buying the station and changing it to a soul format. James Brown did come to the station with his new General Manager, Don Law, who was from New York. They replaced all of the time slots with black DJs except for my time slot. They told me that the DJ who was replacing me (Daddy O'Lark) was in jail in New Orleans for non payment of child support and alimony and asked me if I could stay and work for 2 weeks.
At the end of the 2 weeks, the new guy was still not there so they asked me to stay for 2 more weeks, which I did. In the meantime I applied for a job with Arthur Wilkerson at WLIL radio in Lenoir City. After working for WJBE for 4 weeks they asked if I could stay for 2 more weeks, which I did. Sure enough at the end of the last 2 weeks (6 weeks in all) I was hired by Wilkerson at WLIL. Meanwhile the WJBE people asked me to stay another 2 weeks but I told them I had another job and could not do it. By the way, since I was leaving WJBE anyway, they asked me if I wanted all of the country music albums at the station because they had no need for them. I took several hundred albums and kept them until 2019 when I started downsizing and sold them to a local record dealer.
When I started at WLIL (July 1966) I figured I would be there about a year. The year turned in to a 54 year career where I went from DJ to Vice President and General Manager of the Wilkerson Broadcast group which owned 5 stations in Tennessee. Counting my 4 years on the Fulton radio station I was involved in the radio business for 58 years. I retired in August of 2019 'cause radio ain't what it used to be. As part of my job I did play by play football/basketball/baseball games for 54 seasons. Here's a twist to the story. In 2012 I had the great privilege of being inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. One of the perks of the induction was that you appear as a guest on The Sports Animal afternoon show with john Wilkerson and Jimmy Hyams. On that show they let people call in and ask questions. The very first call was a gentleman who asked me if I remembered working on WGYW in 1966. In 1966 I was dating a girl who was a senior at Bearden High School and this gentleman was her next door neighbor who also went to Bearden. He said each day she rode with him to and from school and when they were coming home in the afternoon she always made him turn the radio to WGYW so she could listen to me. The gentleman made the comment that he hated country music at the time, but after having to to listen to it every afternoon for a year he had become a lifelong fan of country.
I think where the confusion comes in about the date that James Brown bought the station is that people are confusing the date that he bought the station with the date that he moved it out of the Farragut Hotel to Magnolia Avenue which I think was sometime in 1967. The purchase date was definitely the May-July period of 1966 because I WAS THERE!! I didn't mean to ramble on so long but after all I did work in radio.