Our First Georgia Radio Hall of Legends
by Lisa Nicholas
In a stand-out career...
there are many moments that must be “legend — wait for it — dary.”
Friends of Georgia Radio caught up with four recently inducted “legends” in Georgia Radio: Sandra Parrish, Lois Reitzes, Bob Houghton, and Neil “Hondo” Williamson.
Our fifth honoree, the great Charles Giddens (first photo in the set above), was honored posthumously.
FoGR asked the four, “What is that one stand-out moment in your career, the one you’ll never forget?” They gave us some short and longer stories, all close to their hearts.
Click here to read more.
Photos of living honorees are courtesy of Rick Diamond.
Meet Radio's Next Generation
by Connie Aylor
The 2022 Friends of Georgia radio scholarship winners are busy honing their craft. All are active in his or her college broadcasting affiliates and are working hard in their classes. I had a chance to catch up with them to learn a little about their interests and activities.
Madison Gott, one scholarship recipient, is also a student at Piedmont University. Gott originally wanted to study graphic design but fell in love with the challenge of mass communications classes she took with Dr. Dale Van Cantfort. As a result of that shift in career paths, Gott has enthusiastically pursued internships, taken station tours, and is working at Z98.7.
Matthew Kodrowski is the assistant station manager for Z98.7, a sportscaster for the Piedmont University athletics on YouTube, and the online editor for the campus newspaper.
Over in Athens, scholarship recipient Midori Jenkins is busy at WUOG, the campus radio station at the University of Georgia. Jenkins wanted to work in a creative field and started at the station as a hobby. That hobby grew into a passion and has allowed her to work as a DJ and as a podcast host. Her major in Entertainment and Media Studies will give her a good base for a successful career.
Each of these recipients, including Kim Ruiz at Georgia State, feels optimistic about the future of broadcasting, though not in the traditional form. Kodrowski feels like his generation will want to revolutionize broadcasting by continuing streaming services, social media, and even broadcasting on cellular devices. Gott likes the idea of revisiting old-time radio dramas for younger generations. She also believes that as long as new music is being pushed out on the airwaves, radio will continue in one form or another. Jenkins sees the future of broadcasting moving away from live content and more into podcasting and other on-demand content.
Each scholarship recipient has a drive and determination to continue in the broadcasting field professionally after graduation. Their enthusiasm and work ethic gives us hope that the future is in good hands.
My Short-Lived Play-by-Play Sportscasting Career
by Spiff Carner
I have always loved sports. That is why, during one of my very first radio gigs, I jumped at the opportunity to be the color commentator for our local high school football team … the Streator Bulldogs. I just knew that I would knock it out of the park and be on my way to an amazing play-by-play sportscasting career. NOT SO FAST!
Back in the day, at our small-town radio station, the game sponsors would have 10-second live ads that we rotated throughout the game. These ads were typed on little index cards, a hole punched in the corner of each card, and they all were joined together by a circular latch ring. Read an ad, and then move it to the back of the ring. Each sponsor would get anywhere from 10-15 mentions a game.
I could barely contain my excitement as Gene (THE voice of the Streator Bulldogs) introduced me as his side-kick, quickly talked about our starting quarterback, turned to me, and said, we will be right back with the opening kickoff. That was my cue to read two or three sponsor ads. I flipped to the next card and smoothly adlibbed my way into the message, “Speaking of kick-off, Gene, since 1945 Winterrowd Funeral Home … hehe, ha ... has been proud to serve our community, bahaha … and surrounding area heh, haha, aaaahhh…” Gene and I both lost it. We were laughing so hard we just cut off our microphones while we attempted to gather our composure. 20 seconds of silence ensued. After that, we skipped the funeral home card for the remainder of the game. We were also hoping there would be no “dead ball penalties” called in fear we would start laughing again.
The next day I was politely told by management that they could not really afford to pay me to be the color commentator any longer (not the last time “budget cuts” would be mentioned to me in my radio career) and that I should just continue with my regular duties of copywriting and hosting “Swap Shop” and “What’s New in Pink and Blue.” Big money in birth announcements, I surmised. Thus ended my brief foray in play-by-play sports. The upside, I found that being able to adlib had a career path of its very own. Who knew???
Dwight Douglas eventually ended up at the largest radio consulting firms in the world — Burkhart/Douglas and Associates — consulting some of America’s best stations and working with world-class radio talent like KLOS’s Mark & Brian and Howard Stern. Later, Andy Economos recruited him as his VP of marketing for RCS. Now retired, Dwight is a prolific writer and has just finished his latest, “True Radio Confessions — Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll,” in which you will surely recognize people from your radio career.
Check out our latest FoGRPod. Dennis Winslow with Dwight Douglas here.
From the Friends of Georgia Radio newswire...
Well-deserved celebrations over at Cox Media Group where WSB/WSBB took this year’s Marconi Award for Major Market Station of the Year, while sister-station WALR-Kiss 104.1 took another Marconi for Urban Station of the Year.
And former WSGA Savannah personality Chris O’Brien, along with radio partner and partner-in-life Janeen Coyle, grabbed one as Large Market Personality(s) of the Year at WGRR in Cincinnati.
At this year’s GABCON, the GAB honored WSB as the Large Market Station of the Year — Radio, while WKZR in Milledgeville took home the GABBY for Small Market Radio. Lots of other deserving Georgia Radio people and stations grabbed honors. The complete list is at:
Meanwhile, WKZR owners Oconee Communications are celebrating the launch of a brand new signal in Athens, with the debut of “95.9, the Beat of Athens” on a translator for their AM in Royston, GA.
It’s the 100th Anniversary of WMAZ’s sign-on in Macon, and long-time Macon radio pro Ben Sandifer has produced an excellent 4-part podcast series with interviews and stories from some of 940AM’s best-loved personalities over the history of the station from WMAZ’s early days, to today’s WMAC. Hear them here:
30 years ago, on October 26th, 99X was born in Atlanta, signing on with an all-star air staff, including Sean Demery, Leslie Fram, Keith Eubanks, Steve Craig, Jimmy Baron, and Will Pendarvis. The Morning X with Barnes, Leslie, and Jimmy, as well as the fabled “LiveX” concert series cemented WNNX as one of the most influential Alt-Grunge-Rock stations from the 1992 sign-on thru the early 2000s. We have some great video from Steve Barnes and others on the WLTA/WNNX History tab of our website.
And, in Athens, WUOG, 90.5 celebrates 50 years with an alumni event at the University of Georgia campus studios, including a panel discussion—“WUOG—Looking Back and Looking Ahead” with returning former staffers Richard Warner, Val Carolin, Condace Pressley, Mike Henry, and Ed Dunbar, Jr. More on the WUOG station history page.
Notable retirements — voluntary and otherwise. Many-years-ago legendary WQXI PD Scott Shannon is retiring (sort of) after a storied career from his slot in AM drive in NYC at WCBS-FM. He'll still work on syndication and special projects. And closer to home, WSB Chief Meteorologist Glen Burns is retiring after 40 years at Channel 2 and occasional appearances on the company's radio stations. And iHeart announced that former Atlanta President Drew Lauter had left his post after a video surfaced of some inappropriate language while riding in an SUV with iHeart Atlanta employees.
A sad passing was noted on October 25th when veteran Country programmer Don Brake lost his battle with lymphoma. Brake was most recently OM for the Cumulus cluster in Savannah and PD of “Kix 96,” WJCL.
WALR Atlanta Morning Man Frank Ski is gearing up for national syndication, announcing an exclusive agreement with Compass Media Networks. Ski is already heard in two markets. In addition to morning duties on Kiss 104.1, he can also be heard on WHUR-FM in DC.
Radio listeners were concerned a couple of weeks ago when iconic Savannah personality Jerry Rogers disappeared from his afternoon drive show on Quality Rock Q105.3, but not to worry. Station owner and PM driver Rogers is back on the air after knee surgery, and the knee is getting stronger daily.
Not long ago, radio folk in Columbus were glued to their radios to see who would flip to all-Christmas music first --- iHeart’s Sunny 100.1 or PMB Broadcasting’s 103.7 Lite FM. Who was it this year? FoGR ears in Columbus report it happened almost simultaneously sometime over that weekend or early Monday, and now, both stations are playing all holiday music.