This is Doug, not many years after that all-night bus ride. He had a long career at WBTV, then for several years worked at the competition, that TV station across town.

People | Doug Mayes

The Charlotte Observer, December 22, 1974

TV and Radio - Charlie Hanna

All-Night Bus Ride Started
Doug Mayes 22-Year Stint

It's a particular early Friday evening in Nashville in 1951. Doug Mayes, 29, has just gotten off shift at WSIX, where he's been a newscaster for four years.

In the twilight, he hurries to the bus depot, climbs aboard the coach headed for Charlotte to ride all night and rest as much as he can. He has a date with WBT­WBTV and so have 35 announcers from all over the East. They will audition for a staff announcer spot at the station, which Mayes has heard and admired since he was a kid in tiny Westmoreland, Tenn.

Those auditions narrow the field to three: a deep-voiced 16-year-old Charlotte boy, a broadcaster from Columbia, S. C., and Mayes.

Mayes and young Deep Voice are called into the program manager's office. The youngster is advised to continue his education, that he is guaranteed a job at WBT during college summers.

MAYES LEARNS he sounds too much like Jim Patterson, another WBT announcer. But they will let him know.

Sleepless, Mayes climbs aboard the bus again, rides all Saturday night back to Nashville. He's at work Monday morning at WSIX, with nobody the wiser. If the boss knew, well...

The letter came a week later. The Charlotte job went to the guy from Columbia. Too bad. One keeps on living.

Mayes knew that for a fact. He found that out when he was 10, helping his dad, a building contractor, by sawing boards and driving nails. When the Depression was really bad, nobody needed a builder. So Dad ploughed the fields.

Doug won his first guitar off a punch board in the seventh grade, a Spanish guitar with Hawaiian decorations.

He sang and played so well in high school that when he was graduated, he joined up with a Grand 0l' Opry touring unit.

BY THE TIME he got to Kingsport, Tenn., he learned that a touring musician could encounter some hungry days. He got a job with a studio band at WKPT.

He started kidding on the air with the morning man, Bob Poole. Mayes discovered announcing was fun, and more secure than playing country music. Moore coached him. Doug took over for him when Moore joined the Navy.

Then Mayes got the Navy call. After World War II and High Point College (he worked at WMFR there) and Northwestern University, he wound up at WSIX (now WNGE) in Nashville. He played gigs on the side around Nashville, on guitar and string bass (later he would perform with the Charlotte Symphony.)

A FEW MONTHS after Mayes got the rejection letter from WBT-WBTV, the station contacted him again. The audition winner had moved out of announcing into production. Did Mayes want the job?

He wanted it. He took it. Wife Ruby and son Joe and daughter Brenda came with him.

Somehow, someway, 22 years have slipped by since then. The guy who moved into production is president of an advertising agency in Philadelphia. That 16-year-old boy with the deep voice turned into Charles Kuralt, now doing quite well on CBS.

Doug Mayes turned around and found himself the dean of Carolina television newscasters, having anchored the news longer than anyone.

THE OTHER DAY Mayes announced he's going into semi-retirement, with Jan. 3 his last newscast. He wants to spend more time on outside projects. He'll continue his "On The Square" feature, do some special documentaries and voice the station's editorials.

"I don't know if the viewers will miss me," he told me matter-of-factly in the office he shares with Bob Inman, his successor. "Well, maybe they will. It's a nice feeling when people around 25 or so come up and say, "I grew up with you on the news.'"