February 19, 2012
First, what a great BT Memories website! I've spent hours on it, "refreshing my recollection" with all the contributions to my very happy childhood.
I grew up in Shelby between 1960 and 1972, graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory in 1976, then went out into the real world. My years between 1960 and 1976 were deeply enriched by a lot of things with WBTV as the common denominator...Fred at Tweetsie, Dr. Evil's stage show in Shelby, Uncle Jim's appearance at the Fiber Industries' Children's Christmas Party, and much more (most certainly the programs!). All of you who worked at WBTV during that time can be very justifiably proud of the positive influence you had over a generation of Carolina kids. "Darkened dreams of good times gone away"....to quote the lyrics of the song "Old Days", by Chicago.
The Captain Windy article prompted me to write. I remember him quite well from personal appearances....my dad even tip-toed behind him one time during a Captain Windy trade show appearance at the old Charlotte Coliseum, to visually verify that he did in fact have a real peg-leg. But my big question regards Fred's sidekick Pancho, from the early '60s. Do you have enough information to write an article on him for the website? I have a great picture of Fred, Pancho, my sister and me, made in about 1962 at Tweetsie. I was about nine, and my sister was about five. It was very cold that day....one of the last days that Tweetsie was open that season, so not many people were on the grounds. Fred and Pancho were walking down the hill from the Tweetsie Palace, and of course were more than happy to talk for a long time, due to the sparse number of people at Tweetsie that day. The picture shows Fred with his hand on my shoulder, and Pancho hugging my sister. I wouldn't trade that picture and those memories for anything.
A year or so later, Pancho made a solo personal appearance at Huxley Village Shopping Center in Shelby....I still have his autographed picture.
I would imagine that many others of my vintage remember Pancho also, and would like to learn more about him.
— John Setzer
January 21, 2012
This is wonderful, thank you. Cyde [McLean] used to pick me up at Queens when I was a freshman and take me to the radio station for our broadcast. Yes, he married beautiful Bobbie who worked in the mailroom.... this is a wonderful tribute to everyone.
Amazing how you do it.
Reno, great presentation of photos. I worked with Hank just before he retired. He made those slides from our art work. He was always carrying the camera and talking about the good ole days with Grady Cole at the Coke machine. When I was growing up, our radio dial was rusted on WBT. I remember getting an ad with all of the staff before television and remembering they don't look like what I thought they would. I liked the hairdos of both the men and women. Years later, my cousin brought Pat Lee's house, it was a large ramble, the Park Rd Shopping Center was in her back yard so she could go shopping for the things she sold on TV. Seasons Greetings.
---Tom Hovis, Fairfax, Va.
Regarding photo 2 of The Woodlawn String Band on your website. The gentleman, second from left, standing in the back row, holding a mandolin is my great grandfather Miles Albert Eastwood. He was married to Lillie Mabel James Eastwood. They had many children, one of which is my paternal grandmother, Mary Letitia Eastwood (aka Mary Lee). Mary was married to Thomas Marion Stilwell long enough to have my father, Thomas Marion Stilwell, Jr. She later married Ralph Davenport and had 2 sons, Steve and Ronnie Davenport. They were all from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I believe lived on or near Shopton Road.
Mary Lee taught herself to play a piano when she was very young. Even though she is currently suffering from dementia she can still sit down at a piano and play beautifully. The last many years, she played “spoons” in Steve Davenport’s bluegrass band, which I believe is called Deliverance. He is an accomplished banjo player.
Hope this helps. I would love to have any information you have on The Woodlawn String Band as well as a copy of the picture on your website. Is the booklet noted in the photo description available online?
I am still so happy with the pictures you've posted of the [Johnson] family, it brought back so many memories that I can't begin to tell you how I felt Especially of mother and dad and how hard they worked on the farm, and how bringing produce and eggs, and daddy's hunting experience to WBT. Also having the joy of the all the money we had out of all this was stunning. Dad was a visionary, yet he never pushed any of us into doing anything that we didn't like. Yes, we really love singing and we had the contrast of leaving the studio and having that joy, and getting into the car that was parked across from Wilder Building and going home to what many people would think was a below-standard of living. That we rented at the time from Uncle Andy, no electricity, no inside plumbing, no heat except for the pot belly and kitchen woodstove. But it was home and there was not a meal that mother cooked that she didn't serve hot homemade biscuits. What a wonderful memory! I thank you once again.
I am looking for my grandfather, Homer christopher, and grandmother, Katherine (Raines) Christopher, who sang with the Briarhoppers and the Tennessee Ramblers. Do you have any music recordings or photos that would include them?
Ed. Note: In this gallery, on panel 8, photo 31, the person at left has been identified as Homer Christopher.
I am a native Charlottean but have been away for many years. As a child, I listened to a radio local program which was a talent show. It was a very popular show that held auditions at the radio station that was located in downtown Charlotte. The host's name was "Colonel Walt" but I do not recall the name of the show.
For years I watched The Betty Feezor Show and learned so much from her. I rarely missed a show if I could help it. She was such a delight and so intelligent. I enjoyed the article you have on her. I have often wondered what happened to her husband and children. Also do you have any information on Billie Jean Simpson who filled in for Betty on the days she was unble to do her show, and maybe continued her program for a while? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so very much.
Hi - I just found the BT Memories site thanks to a friend. My mother, Pat Lee, practically raised me in the halls of "BT," and I have the most wonderful childhood memories of the many entertainers, professionals, and staff who inspired and helped are for me in the 1960s and 70s. What a treat to be able to revisit these great folks through your site!
At some point, I will be scanning in many photos that might be good additions, if you would like them.
—Bonnie (Lee) Bokman
[The Johnson Family] moved from West Lincoln County to East Lincoln County in 1941, and to Charlotte in 1942.
To the best of my knowledge, the picture of Dad and me and the animal skins was taken in 1941 in Lincoln County; all of the rest were taken in the "Uncle Andy" House, across the road from what is now the Pleasant Grove Memorial Park. When we lived there, it was the location of Pleasant Grove Methodist Church.
I happen to have copies of these pictures — truly a "treasure trove" from the camera of Elmer "Hank" Warren, of blessed memory.
—Kenneth M. Johnson,
I enjoyed the memories of WBT radio. My uncle, Claude Wright from Lancaster, SC, had a small Hillbilly band that toured South and some North Carolina towns in the thirties. I don't know what they called themselves, but they had a regular 15 minute morning show on WBT. He died of "the fever" around 1936. Claude was a string vituoso who could play anything with strings. I was in the room one night when a man came to audition for him with a violin. Claude took it after a couple of songs and played the same songs as well as the owner.
—Norman F. Cates CW3 USA (ret)
I recently visited the BT Memories website and was so pleased to see a beautiful picture and bio of my mother, Billy Anne Newman, on page 7. I did want to contact you , however, and correct some errors at the end of the bio. Everything was correct through the story about Dick VanDyke. I've heard my mom tell that story many times. But mom never moved to Raleigh, or sang in jazz clubs in the 1960's. Mom moved to Atlanta in the 1950's because my dad was a pilot with Eastern Air Lines. Her married name was Anne Newman Carson, and she had 3 children and continued to sing in nightclubs in the Atlanta area with her own danceband. She lived in Ft. Lauderdale in the early 1970's, and returned to Charlotte in 1975 where she worked for Nationsbank.
Mom died on July 15, 2009, and we surely miss her. She was vivacious and fun loving right up to the end. I thankfully recorded my mom telling all her stories, and she had some good ones! I hope to compile them so future generations can know her. I have tons of pictures of mom back in the day, including JC Jollies, and entertaining troops during WWII.
Mom married William Riley Price when she was 19, and he was killed in the war. I have her marriage license, and it was witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. Grady Cole, who drove them to South Carolina to get married. It makes me so happy to see that she is remembered in BT Memories.
By the way, mom never spelled her name Billie as most girls do. It was Billy, like a boy.
Please feel free to contact me by email or phone. I live in Black Mountain, NC.
— Cyndi Stanley
Received the photos in today's mail - all in good condition - thanks. Hope they prove to be useful additions to your btmemories memorabilia.
One of my dad's friends at the station conspired with my mom to surprise my dad on his 39th birthday (1958) with a montage created from these and other milestone moments - I framed one copy each for my brother and me. Recollections of my Charlotte childhood sometimes have the clarity of yesterday, and sometimes shiver with the uncertainty of a mirage. One day showing Tom Cookerly's son, Clay, around our yard; then meeting James Arness (Milburn Stone and Dennis Weaver came over to our house in the late 50s and played ping-pong with my dad and brother - while I was bowling at Coliseum Lanes with junior league keglers George and Pete Pappas - my dad advised me I would regret not skipping the bowling and staying home for a "surprise") and then after the US Air Force, introducing my wife and myself to Clyde McLean as he was emceeing the highland games competition at Grandfather Mountain in 1974 or '75.
Now, I'm Medicare eligible as of September 1st. Thanks to your website work, however, I get to refresh my memories of a bygone era - I especially enjoyed the section on Jim Patterson with comments from Paul Harvey & Charles Kuralt.
I have noted numerous references to Bob Lacey on the site, and actually listened to Bob and Sheri on 107.9 (the Link). He seems to have enjoyed a very productive career behind the mike and in front of the camera.
My grandfather, J.B. Patterson, told me a long time ago that he performed on the Farmer Gray show. He played the fiddle and guitar. He also played with the Briarhoppers when they would be local. Do you have any record of him? Do you have any archives with him in it? I would love to hear anything that I can. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You would find him in the years between 1955-1990. I know its a long shot but well worth the try. thank you. He was from Blacksburg and Gaffney, SC.
— Dolly Patterson Hiott
Ed. Note: Farmer Gray was WSPA Spartanburg's morning announcer, ala Grady Cole.
I think your website is great. I watched WBTV until 1976 when I left Asheville. When I came back in the mid 1980's, I couldn't pick up the signal very well, and then you left the local Asheville cable system. I worked in TV all the years I was away from Asheville.
Hi..My Name is J.B. Dobkin and I was a longtime resident of Charlotte and a listener to WBT even after I moved away from the area in 1965....I was born April 10th 1922, supposedly the date that WBT began licensed commercial transmission. Some years ago WBT crowed about the date "Pioneer Radio Station of the South".....Just thought this codger would share some memories.
Reno: York got too slow for me....I've skipped town and have moved to
Tell me, where is Candy Ferrell? I would like to get in touch with her.
Living is good in Charleston.
Now and always,
— Bill Curry
Thanks for sending this. I have enjoyed looking and listening, although I really am much too young to remember any of it! Ha!
I have especially enjoyed the features on Bill Curry. I think I told you that he trained me in radio while I was in college. He used to tell me about the Belmont Tunnel and I thought he was nuts! My sister is best friends with his youngest daughter and I will send this on to her. I'm sure she would get a kick out of it.
I loved the Betty Feezor footage. I remember watching her with my Mom when I was little.
Thanks so much for taking time out to do this.
Reno, you have done a fantastic job with this web site! You know, the happiest days of my career were when I was at WBT-FM. Broadcasting really gets into your blood! I applied at the TV station in Durham when I moved there, but there was no place for me at that time. That's when I ended up at the telephone company and found that Sid Linton was working there.
One of my fondest memories of our FM station was when you taught me how to record the music tapes. I was sitting in there working on one when Lacy Sellars walked in. He smiled and said, "I wish I had a picture of this!" Secretaries in those days did a whole lot more than shorthand and typing, that's for sure. I loved working with you and Lacy and all the others who followed. I bet you don't remember the nickname you gave me, and I'm not going to tell you now!!
Thanks for sharing such a beautiful, memorable project with me.
—Matilda Massingill Batten
Hiya! It's Tom Gauger here...
Do you have any idea whatever happened to my old buddy Tom Looney? He was a jock at 'BT in 1965 and was most helpful in getting me away from WIST (high atop Staley's Steakhouse) and onward to WIOD Miami. I later got the call to WMAL.
Anyway, Tom went to WTAR in Norfolk... and then after being fired when AM radio collapsed, I believe he returned to his native Texas.
He isn't mentioned anywhere on your excellent "BT Memories" site. Ideas?
Looney told me many years ago that he was from Corpus Christi, TX. I used Switchboard then and found an address for a "Tom Looney" and sent a snail mail. Never got an answer.
In his last few years at 'TAR Tom seemed to be growing very bitter over what was happening to radio as he knew it. He never made a move to do more talk and I suspect resisted any management effort to go in that direction.
This would have been around 1972 or so while I was at 'MAL. I'd visit Norfolk about once a month and he'd come up occasionally. Eventually by the late 1970's or early '80's he was let go from 'TAR and I abruptly heard no more.
I did get a kick out of remarks made by a colleague of his on the 'BT Memories site.
BTW, that's an excellent web site and beats the hell out of anything ever created for 'MAL. 'BT Memories is your work, right?
I've completely retired and now living near Harrisburg, PA. The ABC family has a group that meets every other month in Washington for lunch. A nice way to keep in touch.
Take care of yourself... and let's US stay in touch. 'BT Memories is my only connection with Charlotte and was delighted to see Crutchfield quoted as saying there were several "powerhouses" in Charlotte, and mentioning WIST in the group. I loved working there even though we took a back seat to Stan Kaplan and Big WAYS.
April 27, 2010
I have thoroughly enjoyed "BT Memories" since discovering the site about a year ago. I have retired from broadcasting after 34 years in the York, Rock Hill, Charlotte and Georgetown (SC) markets.
Some of my most valuable experience came as a part-time "booth announcer" at WBTV in the early 60's. I shared those duties with a young man by the name of Jim Rodgers and have often wondered where Jim is today. During that time, I had the pleasure of knowing George Reeves in engineering, not to mention the many outstanding personalities of the day.
Occasionally, I hear a reference to Doug Bell and would like to know if this is the same Doug Bell that was program director at WSOC radio in the early 60's. If so, he was my boss there for a period of time.
Keep up the good work with the site and I look forward to every new entry.
April 14, 2010
i just ran upon bt memories. as a kid, i watched wbtv all the time, because that was the only station we could receive in Trade, Tennessee. i knew more about charlotte than i knew about Johnson City. watching Tommy Faile and arthur smith, Fred kirby and all the great cbs programming in the 60's/70's was the best. the station messed around with the network schedule (a lot) but you got used to it.
i program a country music radio station in elizabethton, tennessee. i wonder if you know if any of tommy faile's music is on cd. i have an lp that he cut during the 70's.
thanks for any help you can provide.
— david miller
April 8, 2010
I just found the web sites, including yours, with pictures and stories about the Briarhoppers. My uncle was Claude Casey so it was fun to see some pictures I had not seen before and learn more about the group. I was fortunate to be able to visit with him just a few months before his death - he actually got out his guitar and my mother (his sister) and I sang with him some of his old songs. On a couple of them, he yodeled just like he used to do - I was really surprised how "on key" he was and that he remembered all the words. I had a little hand-held recorder and got some of it on tape. Actually forgot about it until recently when I was cleaning things out and came across the little recorder - was nice to hear his voice again even though he has passed on.
Again, thank you for your efforts on the web site; it is nice to find a part of your history "out there" for others to expand their knowledge of the way things used to be. Also, glad to see the Briarhoppers continuing the legacy.
April 7, 2010
My goodness, what a wonderful website! It's a new discovery for me, one that has brought back many great memories of WBT/WBTV. 'BT had good people who gave real meaning to "a public license is a public trust." It was also a lot of fun just to be there!
I was with there from about 1969 until 1976. I started as a part time weekend announcer for WBT while still a junior in college. I had no way of knowing that the the work would lead to a career in broadcasting and related industries and that the earned BS in Biology with a Chemistry minor would never be used. At different times I worked floor crew and in the Promotion Department with Fuzzy, Betty Crocker and Charlie Pittman.
After leaving Charlotte, I spent about a year in Florida working at a station, then was hired as Creative Director for WBZ-TV, the GROUP W station in Boston, where I ran into Steve Blue and Gail Harris, also ex-WBTVers.
I worked for Group W in Boston and New York, pretty heady stuff for a 27 year old. As I grew within the industry, I found that there were very, very few broadcast facilities or companies that had the integrity of WBTV and the high standards it had developed in everything from video production to community relations.
One of the more interesting projects for us at GROUP W was Evening Magazine. Our particular working group was tasked with the product's national syndication. All involved touted this new, amazing, reality based program that turned its camera on the audience. Heck, for me, it was just Carolina Camera redeux.
After leaving the television station biz, I moved to Northern California (aka Silicon Valley) and have had the good fortune to start up and/or turnaround a couple of broadcast related companies and sell them to Philips NV and Dynatech. Later, I ran a publicly traded (NASDAQ) corporation as its President and CEO.
I have been married for 30 years to a great lady I met at WBZ-TV, have two sons ages 28 and 24 and today, am celebrating the 3-week birthday of my first grandchild, a boy.
Next week I will attend my 29th NAB Convention in Las Vegas.
I feel lucky to have been even a small part of the success at WBT/WBTV.
PS: A Bill Cook anecdote...Does anyone remember President Nixon's visit to 1 Julian Price Place? I remember Nixon coming in the back door by the studios and loading area where he promptly introduced himself to Bill Cook and shook his hand, thinking he was Mr. Crutchfield.
After Nixon met the real Mr. C. and had headed upstairs, Bill looked at me and said he would never forget that, especially since he had his loaded .22 caliber pistol in his back pocket at the time!
And he did! So much for tight security ...
April 7, 2010
The strangest thing just happened to me. I'm 44 years old and as a boy I listened to a NC radio station under my covers in NJ. Out of nowhere, the name Henry Boggan popped into my mind, I googled him, and voila! found out he was at your station.
Amazing how the brain remembers things. I loved his show as a kid.
Just wanted to share that with you!
March 11, 2010
My name is Lesia Taylor. I hope that you can help me or steer me in the right direction. I recently lost my dear Grandfather on March 6th, 2010. He was a very special man as is anyone’s Grandfather. He was one of the few World War II survivors left and lived a rich full life overcoming the loss of his right arm from the war.
Mr. C.J. Underwood and the Carolina Camera did a story on television about my Grandfather and I would like help locating that story or video footage from the story. I have tried every search that I can think of via the internet and have not been successful. I am not certain of the year but I believe that it must have been in the 1960’s or 1970’s. His name was Mr. James Harley Deaton (Harley). He lived in Lincolnton. After coming back from the war with one arm, he farmed, built houses and cabinets with one arm, amazing… and I believe that this is why Mr. Underwood did the story on him.
I would like to be able to share the memory of this amazing man and this story with my entire family, young and old. Could you please assist me or put me in touch with someone who can?
March 7, 2010
I don't know how I found this site but I did ...
Bud Coggins called on me when he was at WRAL-TV so many years ago and I was a buyer, might as well say a lifetime ago.
Our lives took its twists and turns and now I found him on FB - how strange life is. Time has served him well and he still sounds like the same old Bud I remember from back then - some snow on the roof but I would know his face anywhere.
I'm happy to be able to take a part in this, however small a part - it's nice to go back to the good old days.
—Sandy De Bellis
jANUARY 7, 2010
Don't know if you're still looking for pictures and stories for BT Memories, but here's one I ran across, cleaing out my files today. Attached is a photo of Bob Inman and me interviewing a young man who had been released after several years of captivity as a POW in North Vietnam.
His name was Capt. Mike Lane. He was released in late February 1973. I was sent to Andrews AFB to cover his return. It was shot on film by our DC stringer. We sent the film to Charlotte on a morning flight and it got there in time for a noon newscast.
When Lane returned to Charlotte in April, Inman and I invited him to appear on our Sunday Public affairs program and we interviewed him about his ordeal as a POW.
One other note, or as Paul Harvey used to say, "Here's the rest of the story." Seven months later, on Christmas Eve, 1973, I was up late with my wife putting the finishing touches on gifts from Santa for our three year old daughter, and the phone rang. I couldn't imagine who would be calling so late. It was Mike Lane, just wanting to wish me a Merry Christmas! He was just remembering getting off the plane at Andrews AFB, walking up to microphones and seeing me on the other side of the WBTV Logo, and seeing a friendly face after so many years in captivity. He said he would never forget that moment.
January 3, 2010
One evening many years ago the phone rang in our home. My little sister, Nancy, was just old enough to answer it and had been practicing. She rushed to the phone and answered, "Newcomb residence." Charles Crutchfield was on the other end of the phone and asked to speak to my Dad, Alan. "Just a moment please," said Nancy. "Mom, Mr. Khrushchev is on the phone and wants to talk to Dad."