Archive for June, 2009

The local connection

June 30, 2009

Almost every small  news organization has a person who is the local connection.  The local connection knows most everyone in the community…knows the stories behind the stories…or knows the people to call to find out.  That person at WCHK in Canton was Byron Dobbs,

Byron Dobbs, the "local connection"

Byron Dobbs, the "local connection"

 a young man from nearby Reinhardt College.  Mike McDougald and Bob Peterson hired  their local connection before signing-on in 1957.    Byron worked in the office primarily behind the scenes at first.   But after Bob and Mike sold their interests in WCHK, Byron managed it for owner Chuck McClure.  Byron’s duties included announcing, sales and the continuation of his role as the local connection.    Byron left WCHK several years ago to become the co-owner of Elliay-Jasper’s WLJA.    Only last year, his peers elected Byron to the Georgia Broadcasters Hall of Fame.


Run, Walk, Bark

June 29, 2009

CIMG1528Pets and small children are two of my favorites.  CIMG1430 They were everywhere Sunday at the “Run, Walk, Bark” 5K and 1K in Dunwoody, Georgia near Atlanta. 

People ranCIMG1523 the 5K.


Dogs CIMG1533and people strolled the 1K together.

The event benefits “The Bridge”, an organization that helps abused children.

CIMG1545It’s enjoying the end of a beautiful morning under a hot Georgia sun!

Weekends mean running races

June 28, 2009

Running is one of my passions.    Races are my reward for training during the week.    You sweat, you visit with friends and you can achieve a natural high.    The high is the result of a strong  effort which stimulates your body to produce endorphins.   The endorphins make you feel good without drugs or alcohol.

Today the race was a 5K (3.1 miles) to benefit the American Cancer Society. CIMG0849    The “Running For Hope” took us to Gwinnett county near Lawrenceville…about 15 miles northeast of Atlanta.

When I returned to running in the 70s, 10Ks were the most popular distance, but 5Ks now are at the top of the chart.  Times were not particularly fast at today’s event.

CIMG0869This young woman was the overall female winner in 21+ minutes.   The overall male in 19+.    Many local events are won with a top time of 16 or 17 minutes.


Patty Krup high on endorphins

Patty Krup high on endorphins

 But for most of us winning is starting and finishing upright.

Telephone Journalism

June 27, 2009

WCHK was where I first really gathered the news, albeit more often by phone than in person.   As the first person to arrive at the station in the morning, your responsibility was to call a list of sources for any overnight news.    They  included the Cherokee county sheriff’s office, the Canton city police and the nearby state patrol.   We also checked with the local hospitals and funeral homes.  There were other routine news sources that I can’t recall.   The sign-on man was supposed to get to the station in time to make these calls and clear the news wire machines before going on the air.   Too often, the time would come to sign on, and there were still calls to be made and wire service reports to organize into a usable newscast.  You learned to do several things at once.   Multi-tasking  was a necessity.

 Our best news leads at WCHK often came from our listeners.   That’s still the case today in many big city newsrooms.     More often than not, callers are reporting unfounded rumors.    But always listen and take time to investigate.

Zebra to Frankenstein

June 26, 2009

One of the best things about working at a small town radio station like WCHK is the way the people in the community embrace you.  Your voice comes into their homes, their cars and  whereever they are.   The people of Canton and Cherokee county think of you as a member of their family.  They invite you to become a part of community events.    The head of the North Georgia Basketball officials asked me to join their group.    After a few short training sessions, they would assign you games.     It paid 15-dollars for running up and down the court for about 2 hours.   I became a Zebra.  Somewhere in my closet are those black-striped shirts worn so many years ago.

Principals would invite you to their schools to be the Master of Ceremonies for students performing in variety shows.     You tried to be the interlocutur for the performers while occasionally adding a little humor.   At one event, I wasn’t getting many laughs with my “witty” remarks.     So I switched to the visual.   The next time on stage, I came out with my jacket on backwards and rocked back and forth with my eyes fixed in place straight ahead.   It was my best imitation of Frankenstein.

Tape delayed

June 25, 2009

In 1959, high schools sports were a big deal in Canton.  WCHK was the first and only radio station in town.   There also was only one high school, Cherokee.    I loved sports.  Still do.   Wasn’t very good at playing them, but could do passable play-by-play.  So Mike and Bob named me their sports guy.    Problem was that WCHK was a day-time radio station.  The FCC mandated the station sign off at sundown.  So what to do?

I took a pair of fairly heavy reel-to-reel ampex tape recorders to Tommy Baker field for the night-time football games…same equipment to the Warrior’s gym for basketball.     We would play the tapes the next morning.   The adverstisers loved it.    It was not the results that kept listeners tuned, but the  names of the players and what they did in the games.  Our focus was almost always on what we were seeing on the field or on the court.    Would that more sports announcers today would pay more attention to the game instead of some story they seemed to have rehearsed, and are going to finish regardless of the drama before them.

Ole and Grady Frisbee

June 24, 2009

I shall always remember “Ole” and “Grady Frisbee” from my days at WCHK Radio in Canton, just 40 miles northwest of Atlanta.    The “theater of the mind” was in full bloom when either of these 2 characters were heard at 1290 on the a.m. dial.     “Ole” came to life through the imagination and voice talent of Minnesotan Bob Peterson.

Bob Peterson, aka "Ole"

Bob Peterson, aka "Ole"

   Bob used his Swedish accent to create fictional situations that could be true, but the listeners knew it was all in fun.  For example, when the Russians launched “sputnik”, Bob had Ole going aloft in the WCHK rocket.

Sometimes playing off of Ole was Grady Frisbee voiced by WCHK salesman Jack Turner.  Think Walter Brennan or other “old timers”.   The humor often was corny.   It was always good for a chuckle and a smile.

Bob died almost 25 years ago.    Ole’s gone, but I wonder about Grady Frisbee.   Are Grady and Jack still among us?

In Memory of Deputy Blake Gammill

June 23, 2009

Blake Gammill

Blake Gammill

Douglas county sheriff’s deputy Blake Gammill died when he answered a domestic dispute call. Officers returned fire killing the man who murdered Officer Gammill. It happened near Douglasville just a few miles west of Atlanta. Gammill was a member of the Douglas county’s S.W.A.T. team. After the young officer’s death several years ago, the county began staging an annual run to honor Blake Gammill’s memory and to raise money for the S.W.A.T. team. CIMG1188 This past Saturday, runners could choose from a 5K or a 10.5K. Some ran both!

The runs were mostly thru the woods adjacent to a Douglas county park. This year’s Race Director was Deputy Sergeant Billy Lashley.

Deputy Sgt. Billy Lashley

Deputy Sgt. Billy Lashley

The near 90 degree heat got to Billy as he ran with the younger members of the S.W.A.T. squad. His blood pressure dropped so low that paramedics gave him 2 IVs. Those made him feel a lot better. He was well enough to present the awards.

Perhaps the most remarkable running performance was by Erika Shaughnessy.

Mother of 4 Erika Shaughnessey

Mother of 4 Erika Shaughnessy

She was the first female and third overall in the 10.5K. Erika is the mother of 4, and still as trim and fast as a high school runner.

Blake Gammill’s parents believe their son would be pleased to know hisCIMG1336 ultimate sacrifice is remembered by this event.

Triathlon and a Wedding

June 22, 2009

This has been a very happy father’s day!    My son, Scott, and I went to Callaway Gardens to video tape and shoot stills of a triathlon and a wedding.  The beautiful Callaway Gardens is a resort area  about 75 miles southwest of Atlanta.  CIMG1348   More than 14-hundred people swam, biked and ran.  My long-time friend

Triathlon Director Dave Johnson

Triathlon Director Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson directed the event.    Swim distance=  .25 miles.   Bike=9 miles.   Run=2 miles.    Temperatures were about 75 degrees for the 8 a.m. start.   Near 90 when the last runner finished.

The triahlon was a beautiful thing to watch. 

Nancy and Mark Kelly

Nancy and Mark Kelly

  In it were Nancy Woods and Mark Kelly who participated in the triahlon as a preliminary  to their wedding.    A few friends and relatives witnessed their simple but beautiful and moving ceremony. 

Rev. Emory Gilbert officiates

Rev. Emory Gilbert officiates

  Their life-time commitment came shortly after they finished the triathlon.

What a day!  What a life!!

Mike’s Back

June 20, 2009

From 1959,

These 5 opened WCHK in 1957

These 5 opened WCHK in 1957

 These 5 put WCHK on the air in 1957.  At their 25th reunion are Bob Peterson, Laura Peterson (nee McGee), Byron Dobbs, Mike McDougald and Jim Axel.     Mike and Bob Peterson had equal equity interests in WCHK.    Each brought his own strengths to “Georgia”s Good Neighbor”.    Bob was the announcing perfectionist from Minnesota.    Mike was the down-home guy from south Georgia whose personality was and is as big as the state.

Mike made regular trips to Atlanta to call on advertising agencies.   He would tell them about WCHK’s loyal listeners.   He could demonstrate the station’s production values patterned after WSB’s.    After all, both he and Bob were former WSBeavers.   Broadcast Hall of Famer Chuck McClure had persuaded them that their future would be brighter as part owners of a smaller station rather than staying in the big city as announcers.

On the days that Mike would drive to Atlanta to visit with ad agencies, WCHK had a special program at 5:15 p.m with Mike on the mike.     It had a simple title:  “Mike’s Back”.