He wasn't controversial enough to suit the Suits in a time when controversy was king, nor was he going to change, so he hung up his headphones.

People | Henry Boggan

We were all saddened by Henry's death on April 20, 2006, not long after this article was written. Ironically, he lived only 18 days after being inducted into the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame. There's more about Henry and his career in this obituary published in area newspapers.

WBT's history is so long (over 80 years), there are many generations of faithful listeners, but to each the station means different things. To the generation of the 1940's WBT was Grady Cole, the Johnson Family, Kurt Webster and the Briarhoppers, and, by association, Edward R. Murrow and Kate Smith.

Henry Boggan and "Queenie" the Goose

Mention WBT to the listeners of the 1980's and '90s, and these are some of the names that come to their minds: Mike Collins, Don Russell, H. A. Thompson, John Hancock, Russ Ford, James K. Flynn, Tom Desio ...and Henry Boggan.

For many years, from late 1979 to mid 1996, Boggan ran an evening call-in show titled, appropriately, "Hello, Henry." He was warm and affable, a friendly voice in the night to a faithful and adoring audience from Maine to Florida. Unlike many of his contemporaries and successors, it was not in Henry's nature to be controversial and confrontational, or to demean and belittle a large portion of his potential audience, a tactic that, from the early '90s, was the Hot New Thing in radio. Henry describes his show as a radio "letters to the editor" column. The callers' opinions, whatever they were, were valuable and worthy of being heard.

Henry has a wonderful appreciation for the history of the station. "When I'd walk the halls," he says, "In my mind I could hear the voices of those who came before me. How did I ever make it here?" Over his years at WBT Henry would try to revive that history by bringing back groups and personalities from the past, particularly the Briarhoppers, the "hillbilly" group that dated back to the '30s. He would invite them on his show about twice a year.

On July 2, 1996, shortly before Henry retired from the airwaves, he had them on one final time. It was probably their last appearance on any radio station, although they continued for several more years to make live appearances in and around Charlotte.

The Briarhoppers

The cast of the Briarhoppers would change as the older members passed on. By the 1996 broadcast only three of the original group were still alive or still able to perform: Don White and Whitey & Hogan (Roy "Whitey" Grant and Arval Hogan). They were now performing with Dwight Moody on fiddle and David Deese on banjo. Sadly, in the years since this broadcast Aval Hogan and Don White have died.

Fortunately we've been able to acquire a recording of most of that program done on July 2, 1996. Henry's show usually ran for three hours, from 8:00pm to 11:00.

You'll hear John Gordon give a weather update. Within the show there are a couple of Sky Show '96 promos. The first caller in the Briarhoppers segment is a gracious Bill Walker, longtime news anchor at WSOC-TV, who dialed in to pay tribute to the legacy of the Briarhoppers and to say farewell to Henry, who had recently announced his retirement. The unidentified voice you occasionally hear in conversation with Henry belongs to Wendell Black, the show's producer.

By the way, the effeminate yet raucous honk of Queenie, that most adorable goose, was reserved for first-time callers. It was Boggan's way of welcoming them to the gentle world of "Hello, Henry."

Henry Boggan photo courtesy Jim Scancarelli. Briarhoppers photo courtesy Dwight Moody.