Sunday, October 20, 2013

Legends Pack Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Awards

As many of  you know, I have not been writing the column for the past several months.  After more than 5 years, I simply needed a break.  At the request of John Long, President/Founder of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, I am happy to bring back the column for this week only to cover the Seventh Annual Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Induction Awards.

I get a magical feeling every year when I enter the foyer area outside the ballroom where the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame is about to start its annual dinner and induction ceremony.  I become a kid in a candy store as I see Georgia radio greats standing around.  As a radio historian as well as junkie, I have read about and listened to many of these people.

Getting to shake hands and say hi to such folks as Kent Burkhart, Jim Wesley and Rhubarb Jones was worth the price of admission.   Some of the other legends in attendance on Saturday night included Steve Holman, Steve McCoy, Bob Todd, Neal Boortz, Herb Emory and Randy & Spiff, all of whom are already in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.  They were accompanied by future Hall of Famers, such as Mara Davis, Jordan Graye, Mark Arum and Willard Arbour.

When I arrived at my assigned table, I was greeted by a very nice man who introduced himself as Tom and his brother as Paul.  I immediately realized I was at the table of the Tiger Twins and their families.  In fact, the aircheck of the Tiger Twins on was the first recording of Atlanta's WQXI that I had ever heard.

A brief reunion segment on WFOM was presented by Herb Emory and Greg McClure.  In the 1960s, WFOM was the little station that could, competing effectively for the Top-40 audience with a low-power signal in Cobb County. 

As always, the production values of the videos were superb, and the 2013 Legacy Inductees were each shown and their careers chronicled.  Deanna Brown Thomas, daughter of singer James Brown, introduced the representative of each inductee.

The inductees included Palmira Braswell, a teacher who became Macon's first female black disc jockey as Honeybee on WBML; George Crumbley, a much honored Emory grad who eventually became sales manager of WSB; Jimmy Dunaway, a Carrollton native who after working in several markets, realized his goal of working at WSB; Al Evans, Jr., who was born to a radio family and eventually purchased WVLD in Valdosta with his dad; and John Holliman, a Georgian and UGA graduate who excelled in radio news, and eventually became a reporter and anchorman at CNN.

The other Legacy inductees were Don Kordecki, who signed on WKRW-AM in Cartersville and was named Georgia Broadcaster Citizen of the Year in 1967; Royal Marshall, who became an Atlanta radio fixture as Neal Boortz's producer and hosted his own talk shows on WSB and WCNN; Leonard Postero, who created "Leonard's Losers," a football prognostication publication and radio show heard on a number of stations plus Armed Forces Radio; and Annie Lee Small, who started in radio at age 12 and eventually became WSB's first female announcer and later, with her husband, owned WYTH in Madison, Georgia.

Next came the 2013 Founders & Directors Honoree, who was James "Alley Pat" Patrick.  Alley Pat was an early black personality at WERD, WAOK, WYZE and WXAG/Athens.  When he was heard on a video, the GRHOF audience howled at his wit and admired his brilliance at selling his sponsors' products.  Now 94, Alley Pat walked on stage and showed his sense of humor was still intact.

The 2013 Elmo Ellis Spirit Award recipient was James W. Woodruff, Jr, an accomplished radio veteran whose last position was CEO of WRBL radio and TV in the Columbus market.

Randy & Spiff were very funny as the masters of ceremony for the 2013 Career Achievement Inductees.  They honored a parade of greats, starting with Tom & Paul Collins, the Tiger Twins, part of the fabled Quixie, WQXI.  They did an overnight show that attracted attention, and both went on to big careers in radio.

Steve Goss, the next inductee, was one of the mold breakers.  On-air talent in major markets typically stay for 5 years or less.  Goss came to WGST as an intern in 1978 and then spent 27 years as the midday host on sister station Peach 94.9.  His familiar voice still graces Atlanta radio as local host of NPR's Morning Edition on WABE-FM.

Kelly McCoy also defied the longevity odds, being on the air in Atlanta for 34 years.  After working at WQXI, McCoy handled afternoon drive on B98.5 for 27 years.  He has been one of my favorite voices in Atlanta radio and is known for being a super-nice person.

Charlie Hill was doing announcements on a Warner Robins movie theater's PA system when the owner of WRPB heard him.  That led Hill to a long career in radio that culminated with being part-owner of WVMG in Cochran.

Kaedy Kiley is one of Atlanta radio's greats.  She became a household name doing afternoons on 96 Rock and then Z93.  Kiley has interviewed some of rock's biggest stars and is known for her music expertise.  After several years off the air, she took over morning drive on 97-1 The River, where she remains today.

Nelle Reagan is part of the landscape in Rome, GA, where she has been on the air for more than 50 years.  She currently hosts "Talk of the Town," late mornings on WRGA-AM.

Bill Rice was a musician at an early age.  The radio door opened for Rice when WNEG in Taccoa needed someone to host a soul music show.  Rice not only hosted the program but used his own money to buy records for the show at Turtles and Peaches.

Mike Roberts was V-103's anchor, holding down morning drive for 13 years and doubling as program director for 3 of those years.  He now owns WQMJ-FM (Magic 100) in Macon.

Mark Summers made his mark at the storied WBBQ in Augusta, first as the voice of several characters on the Buddy Carr morning show and then as the station's morning man.  He also worked at Savannah stations Y-105 and Lite 98.

Every year so far, the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony have been near perfection.  I'm already looking forward to 2014.

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