This artifact was one of many clever advertising pieces created by WBTV's promotion department. If aimed at national advertisers, the theme inevitably was that our area of influence included tens of thousands more viewers than was in the city of Charlotte, encompassing those in dozens of outlying cities and towns. Courtesy Dirk Allman.

First Person | Flashbacks


These are short takes, flashbacks or fragments of stories from yesteryear. Many of you have contributed unknowingly; we saved up all those interesting emails you've been zipping across the Internet.

Send us your memories (the longer ones we'll put into Articles). We'll whack out the really gross language, and correct the mispellings and atrocious grammar. Otherwise they'll go in as submitted.

In the meantime, choose a contributor on the the right and have a laugh or two.


Reno Bailey

Around 1960, I was in UNC's school of Radio, Television, Motion Pictures and Mimeograph Repair. We radio rats studiously kept up with who was on the air in the big stations in the Carolinas. At that time Alan Newcomb was a nighttime DJ on BT (just before Uncle Douggie's show). Among us students, a myth had spread that Alan was so meticulous in preparing for his show, he chose the records so that an upcoming song would begin with the same note the previous song had ended with. We visited BT for our annual "seminar" one spring, and we asked him about that. He almost fell in the floor laughing. "Hell," he said, "I wouldn't know one note from another."

Remember Mildred Clark who used to work at the switchboard? About 1963, Mildred was in her fifties but tended to dress and walk like Marilyn Monroe, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. A group of us just happened to be walking behind her on the way to the Pine Terrace. I think Bill Melson, Bob Rierson and Nat Tucker were in the bunch. As we enjoyed the view, I broke them up by saying (in all sincerity, I might add), "Damn, if I were only 20 years older!" 

In 1962 and '63, in order to augment my $80 per week income, I would work the Saturday night "announcing" shift on BTV for $1 an hour. Those were the days of The Jackie Gleason Show (with Crazy Guggenheim), Death Valley Days (hosted by Ronald Reagan), etc. My sole responsibility was, between shows, to flip on the mic in the announce booth and say, in stentorian tones, "Channel 3, WBTV, Charlotte." Sometimes, I would bravely ad lib other terse but informative comments, such as "It's eight o'clock."  But on the 5:58 break I'd get to announce the winner of Championship Wrestling, which had just ended. Wrestling was taped the previous Thursday night, and inevitably ran longer than an hour. On Saturday WBTV would play only the first 58 minutes of the match as recorded, then, at 5:58, dump out of the show, leaving thousands of anguished wrestling fans ignorant as to the winner of this momentous contest. So, after much rehearsal, and with great authority, I would announce something along these lines: "The Championship Wrestling match you've just seen was won by Haystack Calhoun." I never got any fan mail, but  Andy Anderson and other master control engineers always seemed to be impressed. 

Once while fooling around on Bill Curry's afternoon drive show on BT, I complained that my wife Betty had spent our vacation money on curtains for the bedroom and I was thinking of making her go to work in a dance hall so we could go to the beach. When I got home there was a big sign in our front yard out by the street: "10-Cents A Dance."

Rich Pauley, a BT announcer in the '60s, lived way down the street from me. Each day I would leave the station an hour or so before Rich did. Inevitably, if I were out working in my yard when Rich went by on his way home, he would honk his horn long and loud, make rude noises and issue colorful epithets. One day I decided to nail him. When I saw his car approaching a block away, I turned on the garden hose and raced out into the street with all intentions of thoroughly soaking him. I was five yards from the target when I realized it wasn't Rich. It was a very startled stranger with a similar car, who probably vowed never to travel this street again.

Speaking of Rich, he had worked in a lot of markets and if you mentioned any celebrity he would claim to have interviewed him. Curry and I got tired of this, sure that Rich was full of crap and was "padding his resume." So we made up some phony "celebrity" names and sprinkled them into our conversations with Rich. For example, if we knew he had not watched Johnny Carson the previous night, we'd talk about how funny the old comedian "Belyer Fortson" had been. After weeks of this we finally gave up; he never claimed to have interviewed a one of our fake celebrities. 

During the great Belmont Tunnel scam of '64, we'd get mail from a Sid Green, postmarked Reno, Nevada. Every few days he'd write us cards and letters referring to things we'd done or said on the Tunnel bits. He even sent one of those tourist-souvenir newspapers, the Comstock Miner, with the headline: "Reno Bailey Feared Lost in Tunnel".  This went on for months. Curry and I would sneak around comparing the handwriting of possible suspects at the station with Sid's. Was someone in the company (Joe Young? Bob Rierson?) sending prewritten cards and letters to someone in Reno, who would drop them in a mailbox? No one 2,000 miles away could know what we were saying on the air, or could they? In August, one of our newsmen, Joe Epley, maybe, or Robert Hager, passed through the Reno airport on his way home from that year's Republican Convention in San Francisco. He was standing beside his camera case with a big WBTV logo when a man came up and introduced himself as "Sid Green." He asked Joe/Robert to say hello to Bill Curry and Reno Bailey and the entire Belmont Tunnel staff. One Saturday a few months later, Bill--on the air that afternoon--called me at home and urged me to come over to the station and meet someone. I was tied up with something and couldn't go. So he told me that Sid Green had just walked in the door. Sid was a real person, in the Air Force in the Reno area. His wife, who lived in Hickory, would tape our broadcasts each afternoon, and mail the tapes to Sid. That's how he could make references to the current goings on at the Tunnel.

Good ol' Paul Marion, General Manager of BT in the '60s, would hold a full staff meeting every couple of weeks in Studio B. In those days the big stations in Charlotte were WBT, WSOC, WIST, Big WAYS, etc. and the competition was fierce. It never failed, in every meeting Paul would remark that Charlotte radio "is not the same today as it was last year, last month or even last week." Few if any of us knew what the hell he was getting at, but we knew he meant well, so we would nod in agreement. If Paul could hear the WBT of today, he'd turn over in his grave. 

One of my favorite people was Lon Chaney, a TV engineer. Soon after I arrived at the Company, he and I were introduced. I asked him if he was related to THE Lon Chaney (the famous "man of a thousand faces" of silent films). "Hell," he growled, "I am THE Lon Chaney."

The most rewarding day's work I ever did in WBTV's Creative Services was when I created a 30-second promo for BT's morning drive show. The set was an ornate white gazebo sitting in front of a white limbo cyc with the floor covered with white and black checkerboard tiles. Standing in the gazebo in white tie and tails were the very solemn stars of the morning show: Ty Boyd, Dick Taylor and Carl Capps, the newsman. (It was a "beauty" shot, softened by a little cold cream smeared lightly on the lens.) With the radio stars motionless in the background, scrolling slowly up the screen were words—in a fancy decorative font—being read by a pretentious, slightly-British male voice. It was like an elegant, lacy, embossed wedding invitation that might have come from Princess Grace. "You are cordially invited to hear the Ty Boyd Show..." the announcer intoned. We're talking serious, high-class stuff here. By the time the script ended and the scroll finished, we had pushed in to a medium head-and-shoulders of the three. Ty, Dick and Carl simultaneously broke out into a wide, warm smile. Each was missing one front tooth. Fade to black.  


Doug Bell

Anyone who ever worked at WBT/WBTV joined a very special family. 

I have good memories of the days when I was growing up in Gastonia, N. C., and became determined to some day work at BT. And I got that opportunity in 1956. I was only 25 and my first time on WBT radio was at eight o'clock one Saturday morning following Grady Cole. There was Grady, a legend long before then. I sat down in the same seat where he had been broadcasting, getting ready to make a station break and do a commercial. Grady was gathering his material. He said, "Are you a bit nervous, son?" "Yes," I replied. He said, "Don’t let it bother you. You are talking to the same people you have been, only maybe a few thousand more." Well, that was encouraging.

Even though it has been almost 50 years ago. I remember it as if it were this morning. There I was, a young fellow working with Grady Cole, Clyde, Jim, Doug, Bob, Fletcher, Jack, Arthur, Alan, Betty, Charles Crutchfield—and those were the on-the-air people. There were so many who played very important parts in making WBT work—they never were on the air or on TV but they were very special people, an extended family.

My wife and I were in Florida one vacation. I had a WBT tag on the front of the car.  I pulled into a gas station. (Remember them? When someone pumped your gas, wiped your windshield, checked your water and oil, and tires—all for the price of the gasoline?) This service station man saw the tag and said, "Do you know Grady Cole?" I answered, "Yes, I work with him." The man was full of praise for Grady, and would not accept any payment for the gas. The magic of the old days of radio!

I see their pictures now…and think…they can’t be that old. Then I look in the mirror and say—oh, yes, we can. I remember how sad Bill Melson was when he became 30 years old. He thought life was at its end. I miss those who have gone before us. I look forward to seeing them again. Some day.

It would be difficult to say just how much being there [at WBT] meant to me….and especially how friendly and nice the people (well…most of them) were. Even though all businesses have changed so much, those days were so special. It was not work, it was a pleasure to just be a part of it then, and I am sure those who work there now will think the same some day.

I am going to look at some of the staff photos and identify as many as I can remember. Lee Kirby had passed on before my days there. I will never forget meeting him in the Wilder Building studios. Kurt Webster…so many others. So many stories and memories…of the "Golden Days" of radio and TV.

We need to share them, there won’t be another time or place to compare with Jefferson Standard Broadcasting.  (Our first son, Kevin, was born in 1957. One evening when my wife came to pick me up, we ran into Grady Cole in the TV control room as he was leaving. He pulled out a huge roll of bills and took a dollar bill and tried to give it to Kevin. Kevin would not take it. Grady laughed and said, "He will learn better." Our second son, Jeff, was born in 1959. His full name is Jeffery Scott Bell. I've always told him JSB was for Jefferson Standard Broadcasting.) 

I have been doing some work with George Townsend, the webmaster for a Perry Como web site.   George tells me he thinks it could be that Perry Como— who had homes in the BT listening area: in Long Island, NY, near Tryon, NC, and in Jupiter, Florida—had a hand in Kurt’s playing the Ted Weems "Heartaches" recording, which helped Ted Weems make a comeback.  (Perry had been a vocalist with Weems in the early 30s.) I only wish I had been able to ask Kurt if that were true.

I remember, on Saturday nights when I would do about three hours of recordings [on WBT], I would get a weekly telephone call from the Miami Police Chief, from his yacht. The first time, I thought it was a prankster.  

Looking over the web site, I am reminded of many events, and people who seemed to be larger than most.

I worked with Paul Marion at WSOC in 1950. He was program director and hired me. He loved smoking a cigarette more than anyone I ever knew.  He would have two burning at one time, and he would take a great big breath an inhale the smoke and slowly let it out—as he scratched the back of his left shoulder with his right hand. He was a great guy. Paul was called back into the Air Force for the Korean conflict. When he returned from service, we were disappointed when he went to BT, rather than back to WSOC.

Larry Walker came to WSOC to get [FCC approval to operate] Channel Nine. I was program director at that time, and we worked very hard on the applications, and the program schedule and the records of public service WSOC had. It was a privilege to be associated with Larry. His wife Pat had sung at the Metropolitan Opera. She and I did commercial programs for Celanese. I always enjoyed Pat, Larry, and his two sisters and his nephew. They went to our church.

Larry had stopped driving at that time. Pat would bring him to WSOC and pick him up to take him home. I lived only a few blocks farther and went past his apartment. Often he would ask me when I was going home, and could he ride with me. I of course said yes, anytime. That gave me an insight. I might never have known of Larry Walker and his past. A most honorable man. Always a smile, and his left arm around your shoulder to say hello or "come in the office." I learned much of his past but was not really aware of all that he had done, [so did not know] to question him further. The Doheneys [Pat's incredibly wealthy family, in Los Angeles]; the Teapot Dome scandal... Mrs. Doheney had a dentist office in their home. She bought a Cadillac, one of the first without a running board. She had an automatic one installed. They had a Japanese gardener who kept the grounds in perfect condition, and many other servants. The Walker mountain home at Blowing Rock. What as nice place, and the view from the porch: Wow...straight would take your breath away.

Nelson Benton was the promotion director at WSOC. He produced a program "Mama Goes Shopping" for Diamond Matches and Texize Cleaner. I was the host. We taped in various grocery stores in the area. Patti Greene made up the question of the day. One program’s question was, ”Do you mind if your husband puts his business before you?” I did not realize the double meaning until I heard the tape broadcast.  

I left to go to WBT in the summer of 1956. My first day at BT was the day of the summer picnic. What a way to work. Crutchfield was in a poolside chair and called me over to introduce himself. He told me not to think every day at WBT was like that one. In a way, it was—a picnic.

The following days and years he relied on me for some of his projects, as he did on so many others.  His stories of how they used to try to breakup the announcers were great. He said, "I would fire them if they did that now." He  had me sit in the studio when he did his editorials. He said he wanted to know if he made any mistakes. HA.

The last time I saw him was shortly before he died. We went to the same clinic. One day he told me the Observer had sent a female reporter to interview him about today’s WBT. With tears in his eyes, he said, "Doug, I worked all my life building that station, and now they are tearing it down brick by brick." He was so concerned about Pee Wee [Mrs. Crutchfield]. His doctor had wanted to perform heart surgery on him, but he refused, saying he had to take care of Pee Wee.     

What a great life I have had. How else would I have been able to know, meet and associate with so many outstanding people. It is true: when you work with better people—as on a sports team—you get better.    

I attend the luncheons at [the Charlotte Cafe, Park Road Shopping Center]. I would very much like to be made aware of the other meetings, at the [Prime Sirloin] steak house, or whatever, at Billy Graham and I-85 . Please have someone put me on the reminder list for those. The Park Road lunches are good for the soul.  

Gene Birke

Comments about the Feezor show reminded me of some even earlier days at WBTV, when we were all in the Wilder Building.  We drug flats up two flights of stairs, with a full turn at the middle landing.  Try that with twelve foot flats.  In those days, we had the Susie McIntyre Show, which was another cooking show.  Doug McDaniel ruled the dispensing of all leftover food.  He would stop interlopers in their tracks with:  "You dont' get didn't work the show"!  Many people went hungry after that confrontation.  I remember, too, my old friend Glen Johnson, who directed that show.  He would bring a book to read while he switched the show!  Talk about show biz!

And who can forget the party where Bob Raiford got so sloshed he forgot where he had left his car.  He did find it the next day.

Most of you were mere children in those days.

One Friday night, we had a break between shows. One of the floor crew guys, Bob Suttle, came up with a great idea. He talked Don McDaniel and me into going with him to a clandestine meeting with some romantic married women who wanted some fun. Suttle made all the arrangements, and we three took off.

We went to some dirt road, and there was the car parked down the road. The plan was to flash our lights, and get out and walk to the other car. We got about twenty feet, when some guy jumped out of the other car, hollered "you sonsabitches, you're the guys who *&%@#$ my wife." Then MANY gunshots were fired. Don and I both made a run for the woods on the side of the road in the dark. You can imagine how treacherous that was..especially with bullets flying. Needless to say, it was all a trick set up by Suttle.

Not long after, we were hurriedly setting up a Cecil Campbell set, and Suttle was slightly injured and couldn't walk. It was air time, and we pulled the drape on the wall over him until the show was over. It was a large bulge, since Suttle was a large boy. Luckily, the show was only fifteen minutes long. On the other hand, after what he did to us, I would have been content to leave the SOB lying there permanently.

I wonder what the young kids in the TV business do for fun now?

(My apologies to Don and Donna for revealing rampant stupidity in the "good old days.")

John Burchett

This one goes back to the days of Grady Cole and Fletcher Austin. Fletcher was doing the morning show on WBT. His guest that morning was Rory Calhoun, the movie actor who was in the area filming a movie in Darlington. This was a set-up on Fletcher. So, when Rory came in with his entourage, the engineer in the control room put music on the air and turned the mic light on is the studio so that Fletcher thought he was on the air (but wasn't). After Fletcher introduced Rory, he asked him, "Rory, now that you have been in our area a while, and seen our Southern Belle's, What do you think of them?" Rory replied, "Oh, I'd like to lay every one of 'em."

Everyone in the studio was laughing; Fletcher tried to apologize to the audience until he was told it was all a joke. Fletcher then went under the table and stayed for about five minutes.

Grady Cole was a talker. Once during my radio production days, Grady came in at 4:45pm to record some commercials for International Harvester. I told Grady I had to leave to pick up my wife at 5 o'clock, and would not have time to record him. George Reynolds, on master control, overheard and said he would record Grady. I left Grady and George and went to pick up my wife.

Around 8:00 that night I had to go by the station to pick up something. When I walked into the control room there sat Grady and George. Grady saw me and said, "Oh we need to record these spots." "You haven't recorded the spots yet?" I asked. He said he would get to them in a moment. I left.

When I arrived at work at 8:30 the next morning, there sat Grady and George. Grady saw me and said, "We have got to record these spots." He jumped up and went into the studio.

I asked George what happened? George said that when the station signed off a 1:00 am, he told Grady he was off and was going home. Grady then asked George how much it would cost for him to stay and record the spots. George thought he had Grady at that point and said "$100." At which point Grady reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill, gave it to George, and they sat there all night while Grady did all the talking.

Grady was not the only talent at the station who did not cash their paychecks. Betty Feezor also did not cash hers. Many times the business office had to call her and ask her to cash them so they could keep their books straight.

Did you know Grady never took a vacation for the 30-some years he work at the station? After he retired Crutchfield TOLD him to take one. So, Grady and his wife took a flight from Charlotte to New York. Then to Paris where he got in a taxi, went into Paris, found a restaurant, had dinner. After dinner, got in a taxi, went back to the airport. (Did not spend the night.) Took a flight back to New York and Charlotte. Came into the station and said, "I have now had a vacation—Leave me alone."

Don't know if that's true, but sounds good anyway.

B. J. Caldwell

Before I retired, Bryan Yandle came by the station almost every month...always waiting for me at the Main Lobby...saying I was the only one who would let him in the "damn building." He'd stay at the station for 2 or 3 hours. Around 3:00pm I would finally tell him I had to get back to work. Bryan would blab out, "Tell him [my boss] you're with Bryan Yandle, don't they know who I am?" I got such a kick when I'd introduce Bryan to present-day employees at the station. After he'd leave, everyone would be in amazement at his personality! How could anyone tolerate him? Now who was that?

I always told each of them, underneath that personality there's a big "heart of gold," and he was one of the "best" to have ever worked at WBTV. You had to know him! I'll miss his phone calls....and his "I love you, BJ."

We all loved this unique person and friend!

Editor's note: Bryan, affectionately called "Mr. Meanie" by his friends, suffered a massive stroke on July 24, 2004 and passed away a week later. About two weeks before his stroke he sent the following email to Don McDaniel:


                                                   LOVE BRYAN

Tom Camp

I was in several commercials while at BT and really enjoyed seeing how everything in that end of the business worked. One day Ty Boyd was doing a Hanes Underwear commercial and I got picked to be in it because I knew how to play handball. A simulated handball court had been built in the studio. The commercial was to start off as a voice-over, with the cameras on me and Ty playing handball. The mikes in the studio were on so they would pick up the thump and whack of the ball and the noise of me and Ty running around. The voice-over started, “The sport of handball was invented by the Phonecians over 5,000 years ago……”

Ty and I were really playing to win. At one point he missed a shot and said “SHIT”……of course the mikes picked it up, so cut and start over.

Also in the studio was a shower stall. The voice-over would say, “After the game, a nice soothing shower…..” A wet arm was to reach out of the shower and take a towel from a towel bar. The mikes were not on for that shot, and one of the floor crew was in the shower with a bucket of water to wet his arm. So since the mikes were not on for that shot, Ty and I kept playing handball. Just as the arm reached out to take the towel, I totally missed a low bouncing handball off a side wall, and it bounced across the shot of the shower…….cut!!!

Took us all day to shoot the damn thing. The last scene was of Ty opening a drawer and taking out a pair of boxer shorts and a tee shirt. Voice over said, “And finally a clean, fresh set of Hanes underwear.” I left and didn’t get to see any surprises in that segment.

Here is one for you, but first you have to recall how strait-laced, prim and proper Tom Cookerly was. On a sales seminar to the beach one time (read boondoggle to the beach) we planted a real live hooker in Tom's room while he was out. When he came back, opened the door and walked in, she was there in skimpy and inviting pose, and we were all in the next room listening through the wall. Tom apologized for entering the wrong room, walked out, came back in and told her that was really his room. She said things "Well, can't we share it Big Boy?" and "But this room makes me so horny."  Tom tap danced her out of there, finally, embarrassed that such an event had happened in his life.

Later, when I was over in radio and we did a beach boondoggle, we tried the same thing on Paul "Bosco" Marion. It backfired, big time. When Bosco found the "lady" in his room, his first comment was "When I find out who sent you, Babe, they are going to get a raise." 

Joe Dawson, who used to work for John Dillon and later went to Florence to work for Foster, used to come in to work, discover the gospel groups were recording that day, immediately claim he had a terrible migraine and go home for the day. He said the perfume smell in the building was beyond his powers to cope. I can still hear him saying, "Yeee Gods!! Som'un Reeks!!!"  Then he would go home. (I think he was replaced by a young guy named Pic Ellerbe.)

As I recall, the saying of the day when the gospel groups were there for taping was "Geeeeezzz, someun' reeks!!!"  I could have killed Keller [Bush] the week he accidently, mistakenly, or stupidly erased the master and they had to come back and tape the whole show again. Double whammy.

I'd like to say a word about Mr. C......The Boss..... Crutch.  I hope everyone remembers him as fondly as I do. He always called me "Boy" and I always called him "Boss."  One day he asked me to help him carry some stuff to his car, in his reserved parking space at the back of the building. It was just before four o'clock in the afternoon. We went out the back door and started toward his car. He said, "Boy, if you'll look around at the building, in the windows of the second floor you will see (so and so, and so and so, I forget the names but one was the building maintenance guy then!!) looking out the windows to be sure I am leaving. As soon as I leave they will, an hour early. They think I don't know." I looked around and he was right. Heads in windows.

After I had left the company for Duke Power Public Relations and had been gone about six months I was back visiting the station, having lunch at Miss Billie's with Larry Harding. Crutch walked up to the table and I said, "Hi Boss, good to see you."  With a peevish grin he said, "Where you been, Boy? I haven't seen you at work lately."  Then he sat down and wanted to hear all about my new job, new baby and family. I loved that guy.

Here is another Crutch story. After I went to Duke Power I helped Larry Harding and Floyd Grass get good lots on Lake Norman. One day Crutch called me and said, "Boy, I want a lot on Lake Norman too." I said, "Well you are a personal friend of Bill McGuire (President of Duke) why don't you call him?"  He said, "Because you must have more power than he does. Only someone with great power could get reprobates like Harding and Grass lots."  I knew how much respect he had for Larry and Floyd and we had a big laugh at his joke. Then I went down and got him a lot.

One of the great ones. A pretty lady named Helen Bassett often sat at the reception desk in the little lobby beside the parking lot entrance. She would call whomever a visitor was coming to see and announce the visitor’s presence. One day a distinguished-looking man walked in and asked to see Mr. Crutchfield. So the lovely lady asked, "What is your name, please? "Terry Sanford," the man said. "And what company are you with?" Helen asked. Flummoxed, the guy said, "Well, I work for the state of North Carolina.

It was, of course, the Governor. And the lady failed to recognize him or his name.

John Dillon hired me to come to WBT-WBTV. First thing he sent me to the mail room to get some supplies. Lewis Van Leuven, the mail room manager, ignored me for about 10 minutes. Then he said (having never seen me before) “What do you want, Stupid?” I told him I needed some writing supplies. He said, “You look too damn stupid to write.” I wondered what kind of hell I had joined.

I want to tell everyone a true story about Ty Boyd. One year Jim Cremins and I promoted Ty to be a replacement for Arthur Godfrey for a week, while Godfrey took a vacation from his show on the CBS Radio Network. We sent in tapes of Ty and he got the job. Ty asked the great Loonis McGlowan to be a guest every day of the week on the show. Jim Cremins, Loonis, Ty and I stayed at the company’s New York apartment for the week.

On Monday morning of Ty’s first day, I thought he was nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. One minute before air time he had his head on the console desk as if he were praying. My thought was Ty is going to blow it, by not being himself. But right on cue he raised his said and spoke into the microphone: "GOOD MORNING, VIRGINIA, GEORGIA, CAROLINE AND ALL YOU OTHER BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!! THIS IS TY BOYD SITTING IN FOR THE VACATIONING ARTHUR GODFREY. AND DO WE HAVE A SHOW FOR YOU!!!!

For a week Ty had the listeners eating from his hand. Loonis was a great hit and someday I’ll tell you of all the great musicians who came by the apartment to talk with Loonis. It was only then I realized how respected in the field of music he was.

After Ty’s Friday show we had lunch with Axle Peterson, who was the Program Director for CBS Radio, a guy I had come to know over the years and with whom I worked to get Ty as a replacement for Arthur Godfrey. At the luncheon, and right in the presence of Cremins, Loonis and me, Axle made a pitch to Ty. He told him Arthur Godfrey would soon be retiring and he wanted to offer Ty the job as the permanent replacement for Godfrey. He said, “We can pay you XXX dollars annually.” (Now this was a nationally broadcast show!!) Ty replied, “Gosh it is an honor to get this offer. But first, I really don’t want to move my family to New York. And second, I don’t want to take that much cut in pay.”

Without a doubt Ty was one of the greatest radio and television personalities to grace the airways. You had to be there when he was, and in on a lot things, to realize just how great.

And Loonis. I don’t believe there was a serious musician in the country who didn’t know and respect him. In New York everybody from Rock and Roll stars to Country and Western Stars to Easy Listening stars came by to say hello and pay their respects to him.

I went to New York that week in awe of the talent at WBT-WBTV. I returned in shock and awe. Now I knew the giants I walked among.

Here is one of my favorite WBT stories. It took place the week Ty Boyd replaced Arthur Godfrey on CBS while Godfrey went on vacation. Loonis was a guest on the show every day. We were staying at the company apartment in New York and it seemed every musician in the town dropped by to see Loonis. Cremins and I were to give a presentation to the Blair Agency people, in their conference room. Cremins came up with the idea of presenting a genuine Winchester commemorative rifle to the salesman who sold the most time on WBT for the next month. We together came up with the presentation, which included a pellet pistol Cremins wore in a hoster. We put up posters and hung big balloons over them so nobody could read a poster until Cremins pooped the balloon with a pellet from his pistol. We practiced the thing several times and Cremins busted every balloon he shot at. First thing to go wrong was I was taking the rifle to the presentation and no taxi would pick me up. Guy carying a rifle??? No way I'm picking him up. So I started walking from the apartment and the cops picked me up. I finally convinced them what was going on and they gave me a ride. Next thing that went wrong was when Cremins shot the first balloon of the presentation the pellet bounced off the balloon and richocheted around the confernce room. The client sales people were diving under the table. Jim looked over at me, said "Shit!" and shot again. Every balloon broke from then on, but it sure didn't get the presentation off to a great start.

I sure remember the client party when Loonis, Jim Cremins and I wrote new lyrics for songs from "South Pacific". I had visions of being one of the lead singers. At the first rehersal I sang the first two lines of a song. Loonis stopped playing the piano. He and Cremins looked at each other. Then Loonis said, "Camp, you are terrible. In all my years I've never heard anyone sing that badly. You are off-key, out of tune, out of time with the music, just horrible!!!"  Cremins came up and shoved me off the "stage."  I finally got a walk-on as a cop, with no singing part and not even a speaking part. I still contend it was a great loss to the world to not hear my voice in song.

Does anybody remember a DJ at WBT named Tom Loony? Tom was in my basic training Army unit at Fort Jackson. He had been a dj at a radio station in Florida, and there could not have been a more inept soldier. He screwed up everything. Had it not been for friends he would still be at Fort Jackson trying to complete basic. When we finished the 10 weeks of basic he and I were both shipped to Fort McPherson, where he did some kind of audio tapes. Had a great voice that was made for an easy listening station.

Later, when I was at WBT-WBTV , there was an opening for an early afternoon dj. I recommended Tom Looney. He sent in some demo tapes and got the job. He was single. For many, many months he came to my house for dinner because he could not cook a lick. Eventually he went to Richmond for a better time slot and I lost track of him.

I thought I had found him a few years ago when I read an article in a magazine written by a radio dj named Tom Looney in Los Angeles. Turned out he was not the same guy but had the same name. I’ve never heard a better radio voice. Very deep bass, clear and distinct. When he talked it was if one word naturally flowed into the next. But gads, left alone to try anything else he was helpless. He couldn’t boil water and would have messed up a two-car funeral.

remember a security guard at the station named Vandiver? He was a professional gossip and did everything he could to find out some dirt on everybody. I recall two episodes with him. One year I did a promotional piece for WBT-WBTV, to be used with a couple hundred ad agencies in big cities across the nation (the ones who purchased air time for clients). The promo piece was a round piece of art work of an egg in a frying pan. The enclosed message was something along the lines "Charlotte is an egg. The city is the yoke (yellow) but the whole egg includes all the white. Then came a message arguing that Charlotte was one of the largest metropolitan statistical areas in the nation, and included more people than the statistical areas of Atlanta, Miami, Richmond etc. In a nutshell, we reach a lot of people.

Teflon had just been invented so I ordered a couple hundred Teflon fry pans. I stored them in a downstairs room on the parking lot side, toward the crew lounge. Then I had to get each opened, the promotion piece (round) placed in the bottom of the pan, then the box re-sealed, an address label applied and be ready for shipping to specific people at ad agencies in New York, Chicago, etc. I hired some ladies from the business office to help me prepare them at night. Every 15 minutes or so Vandiver would poke his head in the door, without knocking, obviously ready to catch some hanky-panky. Eventually I locked the door and he nearly pounded it down demanding to be admitted.

On another occasion we were sponsoring a beauty contest in which various young ladies who worked for companies who advertised with WBT-WBTV would be the contestants. We asked those advertisers to nominate some lady in their company. Eventually we asked all the young ladies to come to the station’s conference room (which adjoined Crutch’s office) one night, bring a bathing suit to dress in, and have their pictures made in the conference room. Fiddling Hank took the pictures. Again Vandiver crashed in about every 15 minutes. Once when he came in I had a half dozen of the pretty young ladies gathered around Crutch’s desk, looking adoringly at his chair. Vandiver asked if I had permission to be in Crutch’s office and I said no. He told me in no uncertain terms he was reporting me to Crutch the next day. The reason I had the girls in there is Hank and I had cooked up a photo in which the girls were gathered around Crutch’s desk, and Hank had placed Crutch in his chair, then did good work making it look as if Crutch were actually sitting there with all the pretty ladies in bathing suits around him. The next day Hank and I gave Crutch the photo and he thought it was funny as hell. He said, “Wait til Pee Wee sees this. She thinks I’m worn out.”

I don't go back to the Wilder Building, but I was there for Betty Feezor and Fred Kirby and Uncle Jim (Patterson) at one Julian Price Place. Betty (bless her heart) used to bring me a food portion to my office, which the floor crew probably will not like to hear. What a lovely lady! Some of my great recollections are the week Jim Patterson was working with Betty in preparation for the great week when he replaced her for vacation and they were making some contraption that required a screw driver. As Betty was driving in the screw with the screw driver she said said to Jim, "Here, you do it Jim. You screw better than I do."

Then there was the day the lipsyncing Fred Kirby had his recording of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" replaced with "I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a Helluva Engineer." Showman that he was, Fred actually tried to pick up the words while his guitar still played "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Life would have been less without Betty, Fred, Jim, Alan Newcomb, Arthur Smith and the boys, Charlie "Crutch" Crutchfield, Jim Cremins, Loonis, Jim "The Silver Fox" Babb, Ty Boyd, Reno Bailey, The Belmont Tunnel, Big Bill Ward and wrestling taping, the taping of Gospel Music for a while (gawd, those guys could smell up a bathroom with their perfume), Paul "Bosco" Marion, Wally Jorgenson, Larry "The Pipe" Harding, Lewis ("@#$%^&()*&%) Van Leuven, John Dillon, Erv Melton, Bob Rierson, Tom Matthews, Dick Taylor, Harold Hinson, Jay and Virgil Torrence, Bill Cook and Bryan Yandle, Ed Wade and the McDaniels, Alma (what a set!!!), Janet and Barbara, Julian Massi and Mark Conrad and Cullie Tarleton, and on and on.

My life was enriched then and is enriched now with such memories! Oh man, Cremins, Loonis, Harold Hinson, Daisy, Pearl, Lacy, Uncle Jim, Alan Newcomb, Crutch, Larry Harding, Bill Cook, Bryan Yandle, so many now gone.

Bud Coggins

One of my favorite Grady Cole stories was when Norm Prevatte decided one night that he was going to outlast Grady [by talking] even if he had to stay up all night. For some reason (very unusual) Grady had to go somewhere, but Norm kept talking to him and followed him all the way to his car, and was still talking as Grady drove away. Grady was heard the next day making this comment, "Damn, that Norm Prevatte will talk your ears off". (Life is cluttered with ironies)

Boy, you guys are getting old. Now I'm glad I drank that "healing water" that the gospel sangers used to bring into the Pine Room. Speaking of gospel sangers, I remember Cullie's first day at BTV. In order to welcome him in grand style, I took him downstairs to feast on "Miss Billie's" internationally famous quizine. The buses had unloaded and the station was filled with the aroma of fine parfums from S.H. Kress. Cullie was in "awe and shock." He was dressed in his finest silk suit, Sylvia had slicked his hair down and he wore his brand new designer white socks from the Emporium in Marshville. We sat down at a table with Candy Ferrell. I introduced her to Cullie and she said, "Oh, you're one of them gospel sangers, right?" Cullie was duly flattered.

With all these wild stories that have been floating through the e-waves, you guys have confirmed what Paul Quinn and I have known for many years. Thank God he and I were there to bring some sanity to this "insane asylum" we all lovingly call One Julian Price Place.

Wouldn't it be great, before we all go to the BIG station in the sky, to have a reunion and re-live those golden days of broadcasting? I nominate Barbara and Mark Conrad as Chairpersons to head up a committee to get the reunion ball rolling. All in favor say "AYE".

And remember the mantra from our great leader, Jim Babb, "What have you done for me today?"

One day in my first month at WBTV Sales (March 1964), I was taking Frank LaPointe (the Chevrolet dealer) to lunch. The problem was, I had a Ford Galaxy at the time. Being the astute “Sales Guy,” I knew the Chevy guy was not going to buy TV time from a Ford guy. So, I called Margie to see if I could borrow Crutch’s Chevy Station Wagon (made sense to me). She checked, then told me what time he was leaving for the day and when to have his car back.

I had a productive lunch that ran a little longer than expected. So, when I got back to the Sales Department, I had about 10 pink messages on the spindle from Mr. Crutchfield inquiring about the absence of his car. (For you youngun's, there were no emails, internet or cell phones in those days. In fact, blackberries were what you had for breakfast on your toast.)

Anyway, when I returned the calls, unbeknownst to me, I was connected to Bill Curry of ‘Belmont Tunnel’ fame. Those of you around at that time remember Bill’s voice could sound more like Crutchfield than Crutchfield could.

To this day, I never knew for sure who perpetuated such a heinous scam, but with that motley crew we had in sales, anyone was capable. That’s a sample of the great fun times we all had at One Julian Price Place.

Mark De Castrique

I used to be young Mark de Castrique.  That would begin in summer of 1969 as intern trying to hang onto the other end of a set flat as Virgil propelled me through the scene shop.  I worked as a WBTV Producer/Director 1970 - 1972, left on the great northern migration to Washington with Tom Cookerly and Fred Barber 1972 - 1976, and then returned home to WBTV where I worked in Creative Services and Programming until 1984.  Now I am an independent writer/producer, primarily working with Silver Hammer Studios, the Children's Hospital, and various corporate clients.  In the past few years, I had the great pleasure to create a musical with Loonis, write a play staged by Charlotte Rep, and complete a mystery novel DANGEROUS UNDERTAKING being published in May.  My wife Linda and I live in Charlotte.  Our older daughter Melissa finished Davidson and works in DC, and our younger daughter Lindsay begins Davidson in the fall.  However, the most exciting moments of my career were pulling prompter copy for Fred Kirby singing ATOMIC POWER and flipping coins for the Harris-Teeter products after THE BETTY FEEZOR SHOW.  Now that was show biz!

Chuck Hemrick

One of my more interesting moments in my life as a TV news photographer...

One hot afternoon a small airplane went down somewhere near the airport in Charlotte. Everyone was
looking for it. I was sent towards Cabarrus County, north of Charlotte.

Hours went by and the police helcopter pilot thought he spotted it in a grove of pine trees. I followed the police cars to the area and got my gear and ran into the woods with the officers. Sure enough, there it was!

It had apparently run out of fuel and went down into a grove of pine trees.It came in at an angle and skidded along the ground for several yards, tearing off a wing and breaking the prop to pieces.

A man and his young son were on board and both perished in the crash. There was no fire but the plane had extensive damage. I ran back to my car, called in to the desk that we had found it and gave them directions. They sent out the live truck with a few other photographers and we got everything ready for the live shot for the 6:00 p.m. news.

Just a few minutes before the anchors threw the story to us, I noticed something moving in a small pine tree nearby. At first I thought it was just the wind blowing a leaf or something, but it moved again... and oh, my gosh, it was a turtle--stuck in that tree! An honest to goodness box turtle stuck among the limbs of a tree!

Was I seeing things, or was this for real??

Well,it was for real, alright. We did the live shot, and afterward I took some video of it. He was stuck pretty tightly among the limbs.

How in the world did it get there?

I looked around and noticed the direction of the airplane in relation to the small pine.

Apparently this poor little unsuspecting turtle was just moving along on the ground minding his own business when all of a sudden, "the sky is falling, Chicken Little, the sky is falling!" (That's what a box turtle would say at that moment!)

Judging from the angle that the airplane skidded along the ground,this poor creature took the brunt of the impact and was shot several yards forward into the grasp of the tree. It was amazing, but that's the only way it could have happened!

Being the compassionate person I am, I humbly freed the turtle from the limbs of the tree, and the last I saw of him, he was continuing on his way to his original destination, after being rudely interrupted by falling debris from the skies.

I think we put together a follow-up story for the 11:00 p.m. news that included footage of the turtle.

Betty Johnson

The list of those who have passed is an ocean full of memories for me: Jack Burney, my early crush. How I loved singing with his piano playing. I talked to Jack through the years and encouraged him to continue his piano. He always said that I sounded like his wife. She called and let me know about his passing. What a courageous person he was to overcome his polio and nurture his talent and be so good.

Tom Callahan, a wonderful and caring engineer. He gave me some of his early coins from his collection. One was a small dime that I wore as a necklace for luck. Robert Covington talked good books and history to me when I was very young. Made me want to study even more. Kathleen Gurley was such a lady and always just a good role model for me.

Arval Hogan, with whom I worked on the Briarhoppers, kept his wit inside. And Fred Kirby with his wonderful smile; he was so generous and kind. Wally Jorgenson, in advertising—bright and hard working. Ralph Smith, who played bass on the Briarhoppers, was always cheerful and kind to me, as were the other brothers—such a talented family. Clarence Etters had a wonderful, happy disposition. He played for my first solo Bendix-sponsored radio show. I was a freshman at Queens College then. Was Barbara McLean the beautiful Bobbie of the mailroom? I think she married a producer, Bobby Rierson. Am I correct? And Tommy Faile,a singer on the many show's that we did. Pat Lee was a beautiful lady that Crutch hired. I think she was very glamorous

Charles Crutchfield, who hired me and the Family on the Briarhoppers, was Program Director first and then Station Manager. I think the Briarhopper program was a relaxation for him at the end of the day. Clyde McLean announced our family programs and I had a crush on him.

Loonis McGlohon: I have a picture in my office of the two of us in the talented and made me want to stay in Charlotte to work instead of going to lonely and competitive New York City. It wasn't meant to be...he was really great. Larry Walker and his wife Pat were very important both to my family and to me...I shall always be grateful to them both. Larry held two jobs, one playing the daily 5:35pm show with us, after a full day in the office as Program Director. Hank Warren played a great fiddle on the Briarhopper program and all the other shows that we did, and was the station photographer—and a good one. Kurt Webster was smiling all the time and very successful and he and his wife became our neighbors.

Don White I spoke with several times in the last years of his life. A lovely man and talented. Of course I can't leave out Mother and Dad [Ma and Pa Johnson] and their legacy both as parents and the musical course that has been with me throughout my life.

Looking back can be so bittersweet. I think of the words of the Johnson Family's closing theme, which we sang five days a week for so many years on WBT, "Our show has ended but the memories linger on."

Betty Johnson, with her family and as a solo artist, appeared on WBT from 1938 to 1951. She became a national singing star with record contracts, many stage and TV appearances—including a long stint on NBC's Jack Paar Show--and frequent starring roles in musical theater productions. She lives in Haverhill, New Hampshire, near Dartmouth College, of which Betty is a graduate. Her home is a restored 1788 tavern that was a famous way stop on the Underground Railroad. Betty is currently enjoying her "third" career in entertainment. Catch up with Betty on her web site:

John McCorkle

My very first sales trip with Jefferson Productions was to Ohio. Wayne Upchurch had just been made Sales Manager since John R. [Reichard] had headed down to Atlanta to get rich with Jimmy Collins. Wayne went with me to “show me the ropes,” and as we were driving from Dayton to Cincy, Wayne pointed out the Wright Brothers Museum to me, and said, in all honesty: “You can do that museum, take in a couple of movies, get lunch and still have time to get to the hotel for dinner.”

The boy had his priorities!!

Doug McDaniel

Ol' Hank Warren (God rest his soul) would come into the studio to take a pix with his Speed Graphic for a publicity shot or something, who knows. He would hang around awhile, then walk out and forget his camera, or as he called it 'cammera'. One time his cammera stayed in the studio for a week or more and he never missed it. We took it and put in the camera bag and pulled it up into the grid on a rope and tied it off. A few day later he came in looking for his cammera. Of course we got it down for him. I have lots of pix than Hank Warren took over the years. He was a very nice man, but he never took a pix that required him to bend over.

I will never forget I was in his photo lab the day I received the call that I would be a new father, Kevin Douglas McDaniel was born eight months later. He is now 39.

A Fletcher Austin story. In the olden days at the Wilder bldg. we did everything live (no such thing as video tape). They ran movies on film and did live cut-ins. Fletcher was doing the commercials on this particular show from Susie McIntyre's kitchen set. During the film segment he would rehearse the commercial and try to memorize the script (this was also before teleprompers). I was the floor manager on the show, whose job it was to let the talent know we were going on live. Fletch was very flustered on this script, he couldn't get it right.

We went on the air and he started on the script, about half way through he said in a very flustered way, "Damit, I can't get this dam thing right". FADE TO BLACK, ROLL THE FILM.

Of course I got the blame for him not knowing we were on the air. He said I didn't tell him we were going on, I said I did, that he must not have heard me, or whatever. My TV career was almost over before it began. He got over it and so did I.

One of my jobs as a mail clerk was to go to Grady Cole's office every afternoon to carry his stack of 78 records to the radio studio. His office was always locked with a deadbolt and one of his two sexual terries would open the door. Grady was not there much in the afternoon, but those two full grown women took great pleasure in making funny suggestions to me. As an 18-year-old, needless to say, I was embarrassed, I guess that was what they were after. One of them was a real looker too! (Anyone out there remember their names? Bet Rierson does. I think one was Madge.)

PS: His legendary cluttered desk was against the wall with papers from the edge at about 45 degree to a couple of feet high. He knew where everything was (they say).

Shay Merritt

My JP association began at an early age. Most people would never guess that I was a devoted student of the Dolly Rayfield School of Dance for three years. Dolly was Fletcher Austin’s wife, and even at the age of three, I would stare with awe when the TV star would come by the dance studio. (It was in an old brick house where Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital is now.) Fred Kirby would come and sing for our Christmas parties, and that was really the big ticket.

One of the classic TV moments for me was when Dick Taylor and (I believe) Eddie Hollifield were going to Africa and return with stories for the morning show and Top o’ the Day, and Dick cut a 10-second promo with Uncle Jim.

Uncle Jim: Dick, will you bring me back a pith helmet?

Dick: Thertainly!

Jimmy Roy Rogers

I recall a story about Grady Cole that after he had retired, someone cleaning out his desk found several old pay envelopes with checks intact that had never been opened, much less cashed. Of course everybody who ever worked at Uncle Jeff’s place always had enough money stashed away so they never had to worry again about making the car payment.

H. A. Thompson

Don Russell and I had lunch today at 300 East and did some story telling:

WBT in the late 1970's had a pysychologist, Dr. Jim Carr, on the air for quick 90-second raps about his subject several times a day. They called it "Psych Out." He became a fixture around the place. He liked to hang out with us 'weirdos' and I guess we were good cannon fodder for his subject matter.

One day Don asked him why he enjoyed being around radio people. He said…"each of you is an 'iconoclast' live in your own individual worlds and most of you challenge traditions and beliefs. All of you produce very different programs, but there is a thread that ties you all together at WBT making an extraordinary mix." At the time I didn't know it, but that was us.

On the lighter side: One day an old Black man came into the lobby in a robe. (This was before security fences). Dot, the receptionist, said, "Can I help you?" He said, "I'm Jesus. I've come back to save the world." Dot panicked and ran down the hall for help. She cornered Rockin' Ray and said, "Help this guy in the lobby." Ray comes out and says, What can I do for you, Bro? Let me give you a ride home." Ray puts the guy in his car and starts out of the parking lot. He says to this lost soul, "Where do you live?" And the guy says, "In Heaven." And Ray comes back and says, "When you're not in Heaven where do you live?" And the guy says, "On the West Side."

Ray navigates this guy to his neighborhood and when he gets a block from his house, he let him out of the car.

WBT had it's own version of Peyton Place. In the late 70's WBT was flying: flat sold out. Radio sales didn't have to burn the streets like today. Make a few phone calls and sell everything. One salesman at BT had a beautiful girlfriend in the sales department at a competing radio station. (I think we called it 'fraternizing with the enemy' in those days.)

This WBT salesman was known to head to her apartment about 3 o'clock on given afternoons. One of his buddies at the station got hold of a few of our general manager's business cards. A couple of times this guy would sneak over and find his buddies car parked way in the back of this girl's apartment and he'd leave the GM's card under the windshield wiper. Talk about panic. Those guys played hardball.

Join me again tomorrow…..same time same station.

Ed Wade

Jefferson Productions shot a Ford Capri commercial at Grandfather Mountain in the late seventies. Tape footage was accomplished in four days in spite of high winds, rain, and John Reichard's driving the hero vehicle (for which, by the way, he allegedly collected top talent fee, 'though he wasn't recognized.) Upon returning to Charlotte for the edit, the art director (remember "the midgets?") allowed to all concerned that for the voice-over, he must have "a voice that would have all convinced that the guy had to carry his balls around in a wheelbarrow." I handed him Jim Cremin's audition tape.

Jim collected the national talent fee plus residuals. Two days after Jim recorded his voice-over, a small walnut box showed up on my desk with an envelope attached. The note read: "Thanks. Jim."  Inside, resting in green plush velvet, was a reproduction of the 1861 Navy Colt revolver. I've misplaced the note, but not my affection for a talented man, too soon departed. That wheelbarrow would be a real collector's item.

Lovell Waugh

The "good ole days" is a very interesting concept.  Can you imagine any of the young people in the business today thinking back on these as being the good ole days?  I am totally convinced that we have all lived during the best time in history and even the future.  We have been so fortunate to grow up, live and work in a time with so much freedom, opportunity and safety. 

Well, back to the good ole days.  When I first came to WBT Radio I was sure nothing could ever be better. I worked with Jim Babb, Jim Cremins, Harold Hinson, Ty Boyd, Clyde McLean, Paul Marion, etc., etc.  It was a very creative, fun, inspiring group (even before John Reichard, Mark Conrad, etc.) But, I will never forget Fuzzy then talking about the good ole days!  She reminisced about the times when they would take their lunch HOURS at a big swimming pool club out on Wilkinson Blvd.  They would swim and lie in the sun for 3-4 hours and then go back to work.  I don't think we ever topped that one!

But, I do want to mention two events from my good ole days at WBT!  For a client party, we rented a new "supper club" and put on an original play written about the station by Loonis McGlohon. Harold Hinson was convinced that we were so good, we should take it to New York and do it for clients there.  (It didn't happen!) 

Another of my favorite memories is a radio presentation that was masterminded by Jim Babb and Jim Cremins.  It was put on in the conference room—totally in the dark!  NO VISUALS NEEDED - since radio is THE THEATER OF THE MIND. that I'm thinking, there are dozens more!  I used to feel sorry for people who sat around talking about the PAST.  I couldn't imagine looking back instead of looking ahead.  Now, I realize what fun they were having.