A more recent photo of Dick, made by John McCorkle. Summer 2009.
A more recent photo of Dick, made by John McCorkle. Summer 2009.
For a man who got into the radio field on a dare, Dick Taylor has come a long way in a hurry. Five years ago when Dick enrolled as a freshman at Georgia Tech, he hadn't the slightest idea that a radio-TV career was just around the corner. It wasn't until 1950, when Dick decided he didn't want to pursue engineering and transferred to the University of South Carolina, that things began to happen which were to bring him before the TV cameras at WBTW.
Dick's roommates at the Columbia, S. C., institution were members of a radio club which staffed the campus radio station, WUSC. Dick heard "radio talk" day and night until one of his friends finally "dared" him to join the club and try out for an announcing job. He accepted the challenge and immediately made good.
At the same time, Dick took apart time job with Columbia's WIS as a studio engineer. In his spare time, he worked long and hard on tapes in an effort to improve his speaking voice. It was an effort that paid off handsomely for Dick's "self-teaching" has given him one of the finest radio voices around.
He took his first full-time announcing job in 1952 with radio station WBCU
in Union, S. C. , handling all types of programs ranging from news and sportscasting to acting as disc jockey for a record show.
After five months with WBCU, he moved to station WORD in Spartanburg and then, a year later, branched out into television as a jack-of-all-trades announcer with WSJS-television in Winston-Salem, N. C.
Dick was born October 29, 1931 in Lyman, S. C. and attended high school in Duncan. As a college sophomore, he married Rae Payne of Danville, Va., and is now the father of one son, Steve.
Dick's hobbies have always included many sports. He was an American Legion junior baseball player and also played semi-pro baseball while in high school. Even now, he can usually be found on a golf course during his off hours.
The handsome, "youngster" of the WBTW announcing staff has all the requisites to win a television audience: an infectious smile, pleasing voice, winning personality and keen sense of humor.
Charlotte Observer, Dec. 2, 1956
FLORENCE, S. C. — Kids in the eastern Carolinas can point to the fact that they have the only known rocketman and spaceship in the two sister states — "Rocket Rick" and his "Spaceship C-8."
Responsible for a wave of interest in the solar system, its people and the new mode of travel, is a handsome young "earth man" known to his adult viewers on Channel 8 as Dick Taylor.
Dick captains "Spaceship C8" every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. on Florence, S.C., television station WBTW, and as senior officer of this high flying ship, he is host to groups of children on each telecast.
Attired as a space cadet and using a spaceship control panel as background, Rocket Rick takes off in search of Mars, Jupiter or the Moon with a crew from a Sunday school class, a Cub Scout pack, or a kindergarten group.
Dick's easy manner and interest, in children make him ideal for the role.
After a chat, a hot dog, and a dish of ice cream, Dick and the children get down to the business of looking into "Spaceship C-8's" timescope.
Through the magic of the timescope, they can watch the activities of Rocket Rick 's friends and agents on the Planet Earth. That's when the show switches to serialized movies.
The program closes with Dick and his cohorts recapping the day's events.
His position as "captain" was put to the acid test recently, when two little visitors, very much "on camera" at the time, broke from their seats in the middle of the program and told Dick as well as the TV audience (with no punches pulled) just why they had to be excused immediately.
Dick helped them make their exit, then continued with the show.
Dick was born in Lyman, S.C., and was an outstanding athlete while in high school at Duncan, S.C. He entered the University of South Carolina and it was while he was a student there that he entered radio on the dare of some friends. Just turned 25 years-old, he is well on the road to a successful career in television.
He spends most of his off-duty hours at home with his lovely wife, Rae, and their two future rocketmen, Steve, age 4, and Scotty, age 1 and 1/2.
Charlotte Observer, March 24, 1981
Dick Taylor, an announcer at
WBTV for 18 years, is leaving
channel 3 to become co-owner of
a radio station in Key West, Fla.
Taylor co-hosts the "This Morning" show with Jim Patterson each weekday at 6 a.m. and does many commercial and production announcing jobs for channel 3. Among his recent commercials are spots for Wheaties and Branch Banking & Trust. He has worked for JeffersonPilot Broadcasting for 25 years, the last 18 at WBTV.
Along with John McNeil, a 25-year friend and former station manager of WQSN in Charleston, Taylor bought WIIS, which is the southern-most radio station in the country.
Taylor, 49, is a self-described "utility infielder" at channel 3. "I worked wherever there was a hole in the dike." Earlier in his career at Jefferson Pilot, Taylor was Doug Mayes's substitute on the channel 3 news desk and hosted an allnight radio show on WBT.
Taylor's last day at WBTV will be April 10. He and McNeil hope to receive Federal Communications Commission approval of their purchase of WIIS by early May.
WBTV will be auditioning announcers to replace Taylor. The station is also looking for an executive producer for its "P.M. Magazine" show. Marian Meginnis, former executive producer, was recently promoted to creative services manager.
Charlotte News, March 26, 1981
By Steve Snow
of the News Staff
Dick Taylor, longtime radio and television personality at WBT radio and WBTV-Channel 3, has resigned effective April 10 to take over a radio station in Key West, Fla.
Taylor, 49, a South Carolina native,. has worked for Jefferson Pilot Broadcasting for nearly 25 years.
He currently hosts the "Morning" show on Channel 3 at 6:30 a.m., which he's been doing for about a year.
He also has done numerous commercials for the station and for Jefferson Productions, the commerical production arm of the company.
"I made a living working in the cracks, doing a little of this and a little of that," he said.
"You know, when you first get into the business, I think just about everybody in this business thinks they'd like to have a little station of their own somewhere," Taylor said. "Through the years, you kind of give up on that."
But the dream came back to life when a close friend from Charleston called last December with word he'd found them a station.
"Right at that time, I was coming off three weeks of working 75-80 hours a week. I'd just come back from Africa and was editing all the film we brought back from there," Taylor said. "So I said, 'Let's see it.' "
He and his family went to Key West, looked at the station and decided to do it.
The station, WIIS-FM, has a broadcast radius of about 25 miles, Taylor said: "It's a little Mom and Popper. We will probably (play) adult contemporary (music)," Taylor said, "and make it sound as much like WBT radio as we can."
Taylor said while he had no doubts about making the move, "there will be some sadness there.
"You just don't cut a 25-year umbilical cord easily," he said. "I'm going to miss a lot of people around here. WBT and WBTV have been very supportive and very good for me."
Taylor said he and his friend have invested $225,000 in the radio station.
"I know it sounds like an awful lot of money, but in further checking around, most stations you see cost a lot more than that," Taylor said.
Besides, he said, "it's just the answer to a dream, a 30-year dream."
It was the tradition at "the station" to hold—after the workday, of course—events such as anniversary or a going away parties in the Pine Terrace, the Company's cafeteria. Just before Dick's departure from WBTV, such a farewell party was held, where many of his co-workers came to say goodbye, bask in his friendship and recognize his many years of service at the Jefferson stations. There was laughter and tears and overlong speeches and Dick was presented with a nice salt water fishing tackle for pulling in Big Ones in those warm Florida waters. Keets (Mrs. Taylor) was there to enjoy the fun.
Here's a photo gallery of the festivities.
Eventually, a decade later, Dick and Keets moved back to North Carolina. They bought a home near Huntersville where Dick free-lanced as a spokesman and narrator, and they both became involved with several not-for-profit organizations. Keets continued applying her talents in many areas, particularly painting. Her creativity may have been passed down from her father, the legendary Robroy Farquhar, founder of the Flat Rock Playhouse, in the North Carolina mountains.
In 2001 Dick began to display symptoms of Alzheimers. Now, in late 2008, the disease is nearing its worst stage.
When you approach the Taylor home—at any hour—you'll see Dick sitting on their front porch.
But when you get closer you realize it's not Dick at all, it's a painting! Keets has painted Dick's life-size image on the wall, suggesting that, whatever his condition, the Dick we remember—with his infectious smile and endearing personality—is always “at home.” Keets Taylor: the amazing lady with the incredibly heroic spirit.
Below is a shot of the porch with the "real" Dick alongside the painting.