Who knew?

For the first nine years of its existance, WBTV —in most of its viewing area— had no competition!

The call letters WBTV were actually an afterthought. Jefferson Standard initially had applied for "WBT-TV." But wiser heads prevailed, and on May 16, 1949 the FCC approved the new call sign, WBTV.

One day in the 1930s a deranged man brandishing a pistol accosted Grady Cole in the Wilder Building lobby, threatening to kill him. He backed Cole into the elevator. At the sixth floor the quick-thinking elevator boy hustled the would-be killer out of the car. Cole closed the door, hit the down button and stopped between floors. The police arrested the man in the lobby.

Camp Sutton, located just three miles east of Monroe, was among the largest military training facilities in North Carolina (and the nation) during WWII. The camp was a training site for the Army Corps of Engineers, where 16,000 bridge builders were trained over the course of the war. It was also a prisoner of war camp, where hundreds of German POWs captured in North Africa and France were detained.

First Person | Letter from Gordon Golding

I ran across your site because my mother, Elizabeth "Libby" Hahn, worked at WBT from 1942-1945, as a secretary first to Ed deGray and then to J.B. Clark.

Libby Hahn

In Hank Warren's proofs, she is the woman in black hair working the phone next to Fred Kirby at the fund raising session, and she appears again in the drugstore booth with, I think, station sales executives.

My family used to live in Charlotte, on Wentworth Place, near the Park Road Shopping Center. The street was part of a housing development on Frank Graham's farmland (Billy's father), that was built in the early '50s to house returning veterans and their families. It was a wonderful place to grow up, where everyone knew each other and was very supportive. My mother left WBT when she married — in his letters home, Dad was very insistent on that — but she went back to work when the kids were grown, as a secretary for the old Call Quest answer column in the Charlotte News. Dad was an advertising manager at the Observer. They both maintained cordial relations with the BT crowd, and WBTV was the channel of choice in our house! This despite the fact that my mother's old heartthrob David Brinkley worked for the competition. :-)).

Both of my parents passed in 1999, and since then I have been working off and on writing a narrative of their war experience, based on Dad's letters. There was a lot of banter about WBT, where my father felt there were a few too many "wolves," as the expression went.

By the way, I checked back through my things and found a shot of Miss Hahn (with her new perm) beside her grey Packard convertible (much coveted by my father) in back of the old Wilder Building. That might be interesting.

Also, here is a cover of the newspaper published by nearby Camp Sutton. One of my mother's duties was to take the latest wire dispatches from BT's teletype machines and read them to a press relations soldier, who then reprinted them in the Camp's morning News Flash. The article explained that "at nine-thirty every morning, Pvt. Irving Suhl seats himself by the telephone at the Morale Services office … and calls Miss Libby Hahn at radio station WBT, Charlotte. Their conversation—Suhl admits with a hint of sadness in his voice—is strictly GI. For what our Sutton GI hears from the lady in Charlotte is news, news hot off the wires from all points of the globe."

[See images from list at right.]

I have attached some other scanned photos from the 1940s, which you are welcome to use on your site.

  • Lee Kirby — who my father heard on July 4, 1944 sitting in a jeep outside St. Lô, France.
  • The Rangers, with Marion Snider on piano and, from left to right, Arnold Hyles, Walter Leverett, Denver Crumpler and Vernon Hyles.
  • Olin Tice in a rather stunning houndstooth!
  • A.E. Joscelyn (Jos) on the left and A.D. Willard Jr. (Jess), who was General Manager in 1943, on the right.
  • Another photo of the "switchboard cutie" as my father called her in one of his letters. I think this may be Lennie Mae Willis.

Also, I notice that Barbara McLean, who worked in the mailroom, was known as Bobbie. Would she have worked there in 43-44? If so, my father mentions her often, since it seems that one of his buddies carried out quite a correspondence with her and seemed quite serious about getting married to her after the war.

Thank you for your wonderful site, and for the pictures of my mother. She never forgot her days at "BT" (nor her date with David Brinkley ;-)) and she would have been thrilled to see your "labor of love".

All the best,
Gordon Golding

Gordon lives in Paris, where he has been a financial translator for the past 25 years.

Lee Kirby

Announcer and Sports Director Lee Kirby

The Rangers Quartet

The Rangers Quartet - 1944. Marion Snider on piano and, from left, Arnold Hyles, Walter Leverett, Denver Crumpler and Vernon Hyles.

Olin Tice

Announcer Olin Tice

A.E. (Jos) Joscelyn on the left and A.D. (Jess) Willard Jr. , who was General Manager in 1943, on the right.

Lennie Mae Willis

Lennie Mae Willis, switchboard operator

Libby Hahn

Libby Hahn c. 1944 at rear of Wilder Building

The Carry All

Libby relays the news, keeping the GIs at Camp Sutton informed. (See left sidebar.)