I entered the wonderful profession of Radio Broadcasting over 70 years ago. During my senior year of high school in Weslaco, Texas, I worked at local radio station KRGV as a studio engineer and did some on air announcing. I had been bitten by the radio "bug" years earlier. When visiting New York for the World’s Fair, my parents and I saw a radio quiz and that was when I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I have been privileged to experience nearly all facets of broadcasting, serving as General Manager, Sales Manager, Program Director, and Air Personality.
Majoring in Radio Broadcasting at the University of Texas, I also worked at KVET fulltime doing a night show featuring "Hillbilly" music…what Country Music was called then.
Following my college graduation, Uncle Sam called and during the Cold War I spent three years in Germany with Armed Forces Radio (AFN). My show was meant to remind service men of home. I played Country Music as well as Jazz and Pop. Blanketing Europe with 150,000 powerful watts, AFN received fan mail from over 20 countries. Thanks to many fans with all their mail, I was named by British newspapers and German magazines as the top English-speaking radio personality on the AFN.
Following service in the Army, I resumed my civilian broadcasting career beginning with one of two great American Rock 'n' Roll broadcasting pioneers and icons, Gordon McLendon, at his flagship station, KILT, in Houston, Texas. During my tenure at KILT, I was named one of the top Radio Program Directors in America by the Gavin Report. Some years later, I was also Program Director of WDGY, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. That station was owned by the other great American Rock 'n' Roll broadcasting pioneer and icon, Todd Storz. I didn’t stay long in the Twin Cities. It was way too cold for a south Texan. And, I didn’t ice-fish!
In 1961 I left Texas for Atlanta and have lived in Georgia ever since. I came to WQXI, "Quixie," and began one of the most wonderful periods of my broadcasting career. I was Program Director of one of the preeminent Rock 'n' Roll stations in the nation. Great memories from that period abound in my mind. The popular TV show, "WKRP in Cincinnati," was based on WQXI. In addition to on air performances, there were the weekend sock hops, countless remotes, and other promotions in the community. I was named by Billboard Magazine as one of the nation’s top radio personalities. While at WQXI, I helped develop the first Atlanta Falcons radio football network, and was instrumental in helping put one of the first Atlanta FM stations, WKXI (now Star 94), on the air. Also, WQXI helped bring the Beatles to Atlanta, the first ever event in the new Atlanta Fulton County Stadium…even before the first Braves game.
After some time with WFOM in Marietta, Georgia I moved to Valdosta, Georgia as part owner of a radio station. Being an owner means doing at least a little of everything that has to be done at a radio station. Talk about staying busy…that will do it!
I left Valdosta for LaGrange, Georgia as General Manager of WLAG, before moving to Carrollton, Georgia (where I have lived ever since) to become manager in 1985 of WBTR. With Gradick Communications, I spent my final ten years of "on air" work at WKNG, playing traditional Country Music weekday mornings. When introducing a song, I would share with the listening audience anecdotes about the song or singer.
In 2008 I was honored to become a Career Achievement Inductee to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame along with Atlanta Braves radio announcers Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson, Pete Van Wieren, and Tony Taylor from Quixie. The Hall of Fame has its home in LaGrange, Georgia. If you have a chance, stop by and visit the museum.
During my career, I was fortunate to rub shoulders with many celebrities. While in Berlin, I interviewed Ava Gardner who was with the USO entertaining the troops. Johnny Cash was my most interesting interview. While working the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, I interviewed Hank Williams, Sr. a few days before his death on January 1, 1953. Possibly my last "celebrity" interview was with Blake Shelton, who before he really hit the "big time," performed at a community fund raiser.
When I gave notice to the owner of that radio station in Weslaco to let him know I was leaving for college, he told me that he was glad I was going to college because I didn’t have the voice to have a career in radio. I wonder what he would say now. Although I officially retired from daily "on air" work after 63 years, I have not forgotten my first love, Country Music. Even during the Rock 'n' Roll 60s, there was Country: think Elvis Presley whose music was a popular "crossover" to Pop music. I don’t consider a lot of today's Country Music as "Country" which is why I purely love and enjoy being the "Voice" of Carl’s Country Classics. Seventy-one years and counting…