Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Harry Chapin: WOLD

Well it finally hit; I’m 65 today. In honor of that momentous occasion, I have decided to feature Harry Chapin’s WOLD.  As a former broadcaster, this song resonates; although, I’ve never suffered the grief experienced by the song’s protagonist. Broadcasting was fun and I did it for that and certainly not for the money. Honestly, I had many great experiences.

Beth Kinsley made this cake for me 30-years ago when I turned 35. At the time, I was the morning DJ at WWNR. Her husband Mike (AKA Mike Corsair) was one of the four news people who shared the morning space during my seven years at 62NR.

My love of radio began with me spending most of my youth listening to stations near and far. There would be very few evenings where I would not be huddled around a 1940 RCA-Victor 110K “Presidential Model” radio given to me by my future stepfather. While AM radio was my choice, I often drifted onto this radio’s three shortwave bands. At all times, I had a copy of White’s Radio Log to notate each new station.

In 1966, I had my first visit to an actual radio station atop of Radio Hill in Grayson, KY. I had accompanied my brothers and a few other college students who came to record a show that would be later broadcast on WGOH. Frances Nash, who was in high school at the time, was on the air – eight years later he became my teacher and my mentor.

My first broadcasting related experience occurred in 1972 and 1973, where I joined my companions in Explorer Post 283 in hosting a show on Valley Cable in North Versailles, PA. I got to work sound and the cameras at various times – I desired the more technical roles than that of the talent.  During fall 1973, I entered Kentucky Christian College. A new facility, WKCC, would go on the air in October. Not yet having a license, I worked as a station volunteer and occasionally helped with the talent show. 

At WEMM Huntington; October 1978

When it was time to schedule my sophomore year classes, my brother Chuck encouraged me to take a broadcasting course. He justified this recommendation in that I might need something to fall back on career wise. During October 1974, I passed the three-part FCC exam and earned my Third-Class Radiotelephone Permit with Broadcast Endorsement. Therefore, I began a 20-year career. My radio experiences took me to the following stations:

  • WKCC Grayson, KY 91.5 FM: October 1974-May 1978 – announcer, news, & program director.
  • WEMM Huntington, WV 107.9 FM: May 1977-February 1981 – announcer & program director.
  • WAMX Ashland, KY 93.7: December 1978-August 1981 – part-time announcer.
  • WMUL-FM Huntington, WV 88.1 FM: January 1979-December 1979 – swing announcer & news.
  • WCIR AM/FM Beckley, WV 103.7 FM/1070 AM: February 1981-August 1983 – announcer, music director, & assistant program director.
  • WOAY AM/FM Oak Hill, WV 94.1 FM/860 AM: August 1983-February 1987 – announcer, sales, & program director.
  • WWNR Beckley, WV 620 AM: February 1987-January 1994 – announcer, sales, program director, & operations manager.

Over the years, I used my real name at WKCC, WEMM, & WMUL, Jay Andrews at WAMX, and Jim Martin at WMUL, WCIR, WOAY, & WWNR. When filling in for another jock, I sometimes used an off-the-wall name for fun. Two of my favorites were E. Arhoolie Futz and P. Terry Dactyl. 

With Ron Hill at WCIR Beckley; May 1982

Although, I wasn’t working directly in radio after leaving WWNR, I had the opportunity to produce radio and television shows, do commercial and long form video voice overs, be a mobile DJ, serve on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Friend’s Board for 12 years, and teach mass communication classes at Alderson Broaddus University. Truly, I fell back on the skills I learned from Francis Nash in his classes at Kentucky Christian.

Like the protagonist, I was a morning DJ during the bulk of my career which spanned my time at WOAY and WWNR. When I retired from broadcasting, I was pleased with my career, but I was ready to do something new - higher education - where I've been since.

WWNR Beckley; June 1987

Although different from Chapin’s “morning DJ on WOLD,” I’m “feeling all of” 65 “going on 15.” WOLD peaked at #36 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1974 – the year I entered radio. Thanks for reading.