Posts Tagged ‘radio’

Columbus Gets a Local Radio Station for Intellectuals?

July 3, 2015

There is good reason to think that is the case. The sophisticated jazz music I’m listening to right now is a good start.  Here’s the news release published by CSU University Relations yesterday.

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University went live today with its first radio station, thanks to a local contribution. Just after midnight, 88.5 WCUG-FM Cougar Radio signed on and inaugurated a new era in student broadcasting opportunities for CSU.

Housed in CSU’s Department of Communication on the RiverPark campus and operated by students under the direction of department faculty and staff, WCUG-FM enables university faculty and students to produce and broadcast original content over the 22,000-watt station, 24 hours a day. In addition to original content, the station will offer a broadcast schedule of music and other programming to fit diverse tastes and interests.

“The CSU Department of Communication is growing in number of majors and in classroom and community opportunities for students to gain practical experience in many areas of the industry said Danna Gibson, chair of the department. “We are excited to launch the station and provide opportunities for communication students to learn all aspects of running a radio station. We are grateful for this gift that will enhance not only our communication studies, public relations and integrated media concentrations but also will open opportunities for all CSU students.”

For now, the music on 88.5 will not change much. But that will change soon. The station plans a limited schedule of programming in the first few months of operation, according to Gibson. The schedule will expand in fall with additional original programming and news, as well as music and sports. “We look to faculty and students to tell us what they want to hear on WCUG,” she said. “This is a great learning lab for our students, but it also is a new alternative in radio listening for our university and the community. I invite you to listen to us as we grow,” she adde

Escape Radio, TV, Books, and Movies

March 4, 2015

When I was young, fiction interested me more than non-fiction.  Since my family subscribed to both the Columbus Ledger and the Columbus Enquirer, I did see the front page headlines on the way to  the  comics and movie ads, and I did  see the newsreels when I went to a movie, so I did  have an idea of what was going on in the world. But it was the feature films and the cartoons that I cared about.

Then, as I got older I became more interested in reality.  A highlight of the year was radio, and later, TV coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  And when, as a teenager, I got into radio broadcasting, announcers did a little of  everything back then. They read commercials, newscasts, and hosted disc jockey shows. It was the disc jockey shows that I wanted to do the most. Still, reading wire service radio news copy served me well when I matured enough to specialize in news, first on radio and then on TV. I learned to interview news subjects, edit audio tape for radio, and shoot and edit film and video for TV news. 

I basically stopped reading fiction, concentrating on non-fiction.  But, I never stopped going to  the movies,  watching entertainment TV,  and listening to music, live and recorded. All of us need some escape from the real  world. And now I find myself escaping even more when I watch TV and go to the movies.  There is so much distressing news in the world.  Fortunately, there are enough quality TV programs and movies to hold my interest. A prime example of quality TV programs is Downton Abbey.  The British are especially good at producing period series and movies for TV. Downton Abbey is over for  this year, but Selfridges, another excellent period series follows it, so I won’t complain.  



What Jim Woodruff, Jr. and James “Alley Pat” Patrick Have in Common

October 21, 2013

They received two coveted awards at  the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Induction Awards Ceremony Saturday night in Marietta, Georgia.

James W. Woodruff, Jr.

James W. Woodruff, Jr.

Jim Woodruff, Jr., President and General Manager of WRBL Radio and TV, was my friend and boss for more than 20 years.  He was honored posthumously with the Elmo Ellis Spirit Award.  I worked for Elmo Ellis at WSB Radio for four years.  Both of the men were Georgia broadcasting giants.  I learned a lot from both of  them.

James "Alley Pat" Patrick

James “Alley Pat” Patrick

James “Alley Pat” Patrick received the Georgia Radio  Hall of Fame Founders and Directors Award.  He, at age 94, was there to personally accept the award.  He brought the house down with his outrageously insulting humor.  I could not believe that someone 94 years old could have the energy to be as funny as he was.  As the video about his life told us, he started his radio career in the ’40s on Atlanta’s first black-owned radio station WERD-AM.  He left radio for a while to become Atlanta’s first black bail-bondsman, actively working with civil rights leaders to bail protestors out of jail during civil rights struggles.  A theatrical documenarty film has been made about him. It calls him the “Real Mouth of  the South.”

No doubt that is a take-off on the old WSB “50,000-watt Voice of the  South” slogan.  I have to admit the  first time I announced that station break on the 50,000-watt Voice of the South in 1957 I felt very special, because that station was and is a broadcasting giant.  More so then, I think, than it is now.  I once asked Elmo Ellis about the ratings.  Knowing I was doing the morning news, he said the station had more viewers in the morning than all other Atlanta stations combined.  I don’t think anyone in Atlanta can claim that now.

Dina Woodruff,  Jim Woodruff, III, and Janet Beerman

Dina Woodruff, Jim Woodruff, III, and Janet Beerman

Janet Beerman, Ellis’ daughter, who made the Elmo Ellis Spirit Award presentation, introduced the short video about Jim Woodruff, Jr.’s life.  It was my honor to narrate that video, especially when I saw that the Woodruff family – some 20 of his progeny were there – was pleased that I did it.  The video only ran for two  minutes so a lot had to be left out.  For instance, I wasn’t able to tell that Woodruff was instrumental  in launching the University of Georgia Football Radio Network, with WRBL Radio feeding play-by-ply of Georgia games to stations all over Georgia for a number of years.  Also, I had to leave out that he was instrumental in putting Georgia’s first  commercial FM station , WRBL-FM,  on the air right after World  War II.  At one  time Woodruff was involved administratively in four family owned stations in Georgia, including WATL in Atlanta, and WGPC in Albany. 

What a great night it was, filled with historic images of Georgia’s many radio stations, and with laughs aplenty supplied by  still-living radio personalities.  Thanks so much to Debbie and Jim Woodruff, III, for inviting former WRBL co-workers Don Nahley, Al Fleming, and me to the event.  All of us had a marvelous time.

The Microphone that Made it to the Columbus Museum

March 5, 2012

The inspiration for this post comes from my PIC QUIZ feature on Facebook. I asked folks to tell me the significance and type of this antique microphone.

Paul  Pierce, artistic director of the Springer Opera House, was the winner of the ATTABOY AWARD because he knew that it is a carbon microphone, and suggested that  it is from the Jim Woodruff era at WRBL. I said that was close enough if he was referring to Jim Woodruff, Sr., not Jim Woodruff, Jr. Jim Woodruff, Jr. ended up running and owning the largest share of the station,  but it was Sr.who bought WRBL in the  early 1930’s and, this mic was being used then. It could even have been used when WRBL went on the air in 1928 in a dressing room of the now gone Royal Theater.  The Royal became the Three Arts Theater before the building became victim of the wrecking ball.

Roy Martin, the man who built  the Royal, a 2,700-seat movie and vaudeville theater, was the first owner of WRBL radio, which went on the air with a 50-watt transmitter built by “Radio” Bill Lewis – hence the call letters WRBL – who continued working as an engineer at WRBL long after Roy Martin sold it. Legend has it that he sold it because he thought it couldn’t be profitable because “you have to pay all those people to be on the radio.”  Over the years it went from a 50-watt independent to a 250-watt, and, finally, a 5,000-watt CBS affiliate that made a lot of profit, and gave birth to WRBL-FM, and, finally WRBL-TV which has made tons of profits over the years. Martin’s theater chain was quite profitable, too. And it got back into the broadcasting business when it became part owner of WDAK-TV, which morphed into WTVM. It became sole owner of WTVM. It’s been sold a number of times since then, as has WRBL-TV.

So you can see that the old carbon mic is an important historical artifact.  It now belongs to the Columbus Museum.  Don Nahley, who was given the mic when he left WRBL-TV as manager, asked me and former broadcast journalist Al Fleming to  join him in presenting the mic to the museum.  Don and I worked together at  WRBL-TV for many years, and we worked with Al there for a short while. Museum Executive Director Tom Butler accepted the microphone for the museum’s collection of historical artifacts. Don, Al, and I are all glad it’s now the property of the museum. We think that is where it  should be.

Business Leader and Philanthropist J. Barnett Woodruff Dies

January 18, 2011

J. Barnett Woodruff at the dedication ceremony of the replica of the Civil War ship the Water Witch at the National Civil War Naval Museum (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

  The last member of the Woodruff family who participated in pioneering broadcasting in Columbus died at the age of 87 last night. Columbus native J. Barnett Woodruff, the son of Jim Woodruff, Senior and brother of the late Jim Woodruff, Jr. and late sister Emily Woodruff, was a part owner of WRBL Radio and TV before it was sold  in 1978.  Their father, Jim Woodruff, Sr., bought WRBL Radio back in the early 1930’s, a few years after it went on the air in a dressing room of the Royal Theater in 1928.  He turned it over to Jim in the late thirties. It grew and grew and ended up a very profitable radio and, eventually, television station. Barnett had a financial interest in the company, but left it up to Jim to run the stations. He had told me he was more interested in the family real estate business.

However, circumstances caused him to become very involved.  Jim died in an automobile accident  in Athens causing his majority ownership of Columbus Broadcasting Company to go into a family trust managed by the First National Bank.  Barnett owned  a minority interest in the company and became president.

The station was sold about two years after Jim Woodruff, Jr. died. Barnett did an extraordinary thing on his last day there.  He personally walked around the building and shook hands, thanked employees for their good work and handed them an envelope containing one-hundred-dollar bills.  I felt so expansive that when I got home that night I handed a couple of them to my teenage son. Teenagers just love cash.

He was a kind, generous man, supporting a number of charities including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Springer Opera House, and the National Civil War Naval Museum. His brother Jim had been instrumental in raising the ironclad Jackson from the Chattahoochee River and starting the naval museum, and his sister Emily was a generous supporter of the Springer.

He was a member of the Rotary Club of Columbus and First Presbyterian Church. He is survived by a daughter, two sons, and 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.  A memorial service will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

LaGrange Revisited II

May 13, 2009

The memories poured back recently when I spent a couple of days in LaGrange.  Downtown  has changed since I was there,  but a lot is just like it was in 1950 when I was a 19-year-old radio announcer at WLAG.  My first major assignment at WLAG was to play Santa Claus and read letters to him. I faked a big deep voice and did a lot of ho,ho, hoing.  In my regular voice,  I also did  newscasts, disc-jockey work,  and commercials. 

WLAG, LAGrange

WLAG, LAGrange

WLAG is still on the air.  It’s an all-sports ESPN affiliate.  When I was there, it was a Mutual network affiliate.   It’s still on Broome Street,  but it’s across the street from where it was in 1950.  Standing where the old studio was located is the relatively new Promenade Parking garage that serves the downtown area.

Promanade Parking garage, downtown LaGrange, GA

Promanade Parking garage, downtown LaGrange, GA

 That parking garage and the rest of the downtown revitalization program has been made possible, in large part, by donations from the Callaway Foundation.   That foundation was established by Fuller Callaway, Jr.  in 1942 with a $1.5 million donation.  That $1.5 million, the only contribution ever made to the foundation,  has grown,  totally though investments,  to almost $200,000,000.

Main Street, LaGrange, GA

Main Street, LaGrange, GA

When we went over to Main Street, where more Callaway Foundation money has funded extensive renovations,  making historic old building viable for use today,  it looked a lot like it did in 1950.  There is a vast difference though.  Main Street now sports some fine restaurants. We tried Tulla’s Cajun Bar and Grill.  Outstanding food and ambiance.  

Another dining experience I would recommend is the Lemmon Tree, where we had lunch.  Best vegetables I have ever tasted,  and the corn bread is like “Mama use to make.”   

LaGrange 10 movie multiplex, LaGrange, GA

LaGrange 10 movie multiplex, LaGrange, GA

When I worked at WLAG,  I spent a lot of time at the LaGrange Theater, which was about a 20-second walk from the station. Among the great movies I saw there was “Twelve O’clock High,”  with Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger.  Jagger won the 1949 best supporting actor Oscar for his role in that one.     There is still a LaGrange theater at that location,  but it’s a lot bigger, sporting 10 screens.  Carmike Cinemas,  whose national headquarters is in Columbus, operates the multiplex, but even this was made possible by Callaway Foundation downtown revitalization money.  The city used the money to build it and leases it to Carmike. 

Callaway Mills are long gone from LaGrange – the late Fuller Callaway, Jr. sold the mills in 1968 –  but the legacy of mill profits that went into the Callaway Foundation lives on.  You see it everywhere in improvements that make LaGrange a nice place to live.  The latest beneficiary of that money is LaGrange College.  I’ll tell about that on a future post.

George Corradino Keeps Amateur Music Alive and Well in Columbus

December 6, 2008

   If you want a good example of just how active a person pushing 80 can be, look no further than George Corradino. He teaches two classes at Troy State University’s Phenix City campus;  conducts the Bob Barr Community Band,  which rehearses just about every Monday night; leads the choir at St. Anne’s Catholic Church; plays for funerals and weddings: and leads the 17-piece Cavaliers Big Band.

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

  Just get a load of what he is doing this weekend. Tonight and tomorrow, he is leading the Cavaliers in a musical drama at Evangel Temple called “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” The band will provide the music of  World War Two  for the play.  It will be a nostaglic look at WW II and feature the music and famous radio shows of the 40’s. Having been eleven years old when the war started, I remember those days vividly, those war years Chistmases,  and plan to be at the Sunday evening performance.  Tonight’s performance is at 6, and the Sunday performances are at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 pm.  

Evangel Temple)

"I'll be Home for Christmas" pamplet (Courtesy: Evangel Temple)

Then Monday, George will be interviewed at noon on WRBL and I’ll be on the 5:30 WTVM newscast to talk about Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert by the Bob Barr Community Band. On top of conducting the band, before that, he will direct the music at St. Anne’s for a mass.

  “You like to stay busy, don’t you,” I said to George.

  “I always have, Dick. And I just love doing what I do.”

  And what he does is provide a tremendous music service to this community. My hat’s off to him.

  Hope to see you at the Bob Barr Community Band Twenitheth Anniversary Benefit Concert at  7:30 p.m, at the Jordan High auditorum. Admission is $5 and the current band gets the proceeds. Since I emceed the very first concert in 1988, George asked me to do this one. I’m honored.

Escaping Fox News in the Doctor’s Office

October 28, 2008

  When I arrived at my new dermatoligist’s office this morning, I couldn’t beleive the number of cars in the parking lot. I knew there was only one doctor in the building. I thought, oh no, he’s one of those doctors that schedules everybody to come it at the same time and then treats you in the order of your arrival. That, from past experience, can run into more than an hour’s wait.

  When I signed in, I asked the receptionist if that was his procedure. She said that it wasn’t, but that he was running behind. There have been very few times when I went for an office visit that my doctor wasn’t “running behind.”

  So, I found a seat in the crowded waiting room and scanned the room for magazines.  It’s always fun to see if one doctor has magazines that are older than another one. I’ve found some that were more than a year old. But, it didn’t matter. There weren’t any. That meant my only choice to kill time was to watch Fox News. It’s interesting that doctors all seem to want their patients to watch Fox News, especially since it can drive up ones blood pressure. 

  The TV sound was so low I could hardly understand  what anyone was saying.  I reflect that’s really not so bad because Fox’s obvious bias can hack me off.

 No magazines. Fox News. What I am going to do?  Well, it turned out that I didn’t need to worry because a nice lady came over to say hello. I figured it was another person who remembered me from all those years I anchored TV newscasts, but it wasn’t. It was the lovely wife of Rev. Jimmy Cook.  They came over and sat with me and we had a great visit. 

  Jimmy, who was pastor of the Morningside Baptist Church, and I have something in common.  He started out his young life on radio just a few years before I did the same thing. He stopped a long time before I, deciding in 1954 that he had rather be a preacher instead. I remembered him as Country Boy on WGBA Radio.  He talked in a wild, over-the-top hick accent on that show and played country music. He built quite a following.

  He started out as manager of the station in 1949. I started in radio in 1948 at WDAK as a 17-year-old announcer. I was still in high school.  WGBA was then owned by the Page Corporation, owner of the Columbus-Ledger Enquirer at the time. At first it was an FM station. That was when hardly anybody had FM radios. Everyone was still listenting to AM stations then.  After a while, he switched from manager to air personality and said, “That worked better for me.”

  Well, Jimmy and Mrs. Cook and I started having a grand old time strolling down memory lane as we discussed the radio era. A couple of other old geezers who recognized Jimmy and me, and who were evesdropping on the conversation, decided they couldn’t restrain themselves any more and joined in. They, too, had their memories of the “good old days.”

  So what sarted out to be a boring doctor’s office wait turned into just the opposite. We all had a great time and even though my wait to get in to see my doctor was about an hour, I didn’t mind at all because it was a fun hour.

  However, you can’t always depend on running into great people like Rev. Jimmy and Mrs. Cook. So maybe doctors should keep some of those ancient magazines availble for those of us who had rather read a year-old copy of Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report than watch Fox News.

Congratulations to Bill Bowick on Radio Hall of Fame Induction

October 8, 2008

  It’s always good to see someone be properly recognized for their good work. My old friend and fellow broadcaster Bill Bowick was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Saturday night in Atlanta.

  Bill entertained folks in the Chattahoochee Valley for about 37 years, starting back in the 1955 on WGBA.  Over the years, he worked for a number of stations in Columbus. He and his buddy, Fillup Space, helped audiences get off to a good start every day.  Bill actually wrote a lot of what he said on the air, because he tape recorded Fillup Space at regular speed and played back at fast speed which gave the character a cartoon sound.  He was ad-libbing with a tape recorder, and did it it very well.

He told me that people ask him if he misses being on the radio. He said he gives them the same answer I give when people ask me about being on TV: “No.”

  Congratulations Bill and thanks for all of the pleasure that you gave your audiences for all those years.

What a Bear and I Have in Common

September 10, 2008

  I learned that country music radio personality Bear O’Brian and I have quite few broadcasting career things in common. For one, we just kept coming back to Columbus. Some people have been critical of Bear for moving around so much, but they just don’t understand the dynamics of being a local broadcasting personality.

  In my view, it’s a good idea to move around in the early stages of becoming a broadcast personality. For one thing, it’s the quickest way to get your salary up to a decent level. For another, and this is especially true if you move to larger markets, you learn different, sometimes better, ways of doing things. And once you have proved that you can cut it in bigger markets, you are more appreciated by management when you come back home.  That translates to higher pay.

  No matter where you work, it’s a good idea to have a good relationship with your boss, and part on good terms. You can’t always do that, but it’s good when you can. You could say that Jim Martin is to Bear what the late Jim Woodruff, Jr. was to me. Both Jims hired us at least three times. 

Jim Martin, Gen. Manager PMB Broadcasting; Bear O’Brian, Kissin 99.3
  Friendship with the boss counts for a lot, but what counts most of all, though, is whether you can attract an audience. Ratings rule. I was fortunate in that area, and so is Bear.

  Another thing Bear and I have in common is how someone convinced us to change our names. Bear said the progam director at his first station, WRNZ in Wrens, Georgia, told him that Wade Collier is not a good braodcast personality name. He suggested Bear O’Brien. “Now,” says Bear, “the only people who call me Wade are my mother and some relatives.  My wife calls me Bear.  We were both working at the same station when we met and I was going by Bear by then.”

  My name change wasn’t quite that drastic. My mentor at WDAK, the late Ed Snyder, convinced me that Richard McMichael, which is what my family and everyone else called me, was too formal, he said. He suggested Dick. (He let me keep my last name.)  It’s been Dick, outside my family, since 1948. The only people who still call me Richard are the few relatives I have left. 

  Bear’s back doing his morning thing, this time on WKCN-FM, Kisssin’ 99.3, from 6 to 10 on weekday mornings.  He’s working for a different company this time, but not a different boss.  Jim Martin left Clear Channel Radio and now owns, with a few other people, PMB Broadcasting.  Bear worked for him when both were at Clear Channel.

 Bear’s show went on the air Monday. He said there was a delay because his contract with WBAM-FM in Montgomery had a non-compete clause in it and the management of both stations had to work out that before he could go back on the air. They did and he’s back. Over the years Bear has done some wild things on the air, I’m told, but he says he is doing a family-friendly show and even includes a 5-minute religious segment. His goal, he says, is to not only entertain, but build trust with his audience. 

  To be honest, I am not a devoted country music fan.  I do like it, even going to Nashville once to attend the Grand Ole Opry, but it’s not my favorite music.  I’m basically a standards, jazz, and classical music guy.   I have made appearances on a few of Bear’s shows when he was in town before. We had fun. I like him.  Welcome back, Bear.