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Voices In The Morning

This article appeared on the Accent section of the Courier-Journal on July 29, 1982. It profiled all of the morning jocks on commercial radio in Louisville at that time.

By Tom Dorsey
Courier-Journal TV & Radio Critic

Voices in the morning. From clock and car radios their oh-so-cheerful, up-and-at-'em early-morning words come into our lives each day. They tell us the time every second except, it seems, the minute we really need it. They warn us to carry umbrellas on bright sunny days or insist that old Sol is shining as we watch the windshield wipers slap away.

They are the disc jockeys, the personalities who drag us from bed and get us through a first cup of coffee. They make the morning rush hour bearable as we weave our way to work. They become so familiar that people think of them as friends, although most listeners haven't the slightest idea who they are or what they look like.

As a public service we interrupt this page to bring you the image behind the voices and a little bit about their lives. Since ego can be a problem in the airwaves business, we present them in alphabetical order.

Mark Anderson, WTMT
Age: 34
Married; one child
Hometown: Lynch, Kentucky

Anderson is the newest, but one of the oldest, morning radio voices in Louisville. He's the newest because he just began the 6 to 10 a.m. shift on WTMT last Monday. But he's been around. He had been with WTMT since 1971 before leaving last August because "I simply was tired." He left on good terms and the station called him back to work last week.

Anderson got his broadcasting start when he was 17 and playing in a band in Harlan County. "One night at the VFW dance a guy came up and said, 'Hey, you got a good voice. How'd you like to work at my radio station?'" How the man knew Anderson had a good voice was a mystery, since the teenager played piano in the band and didn't sing. However, Anderson got his first radio job at WCPM in Cumberland before he was out of high school. Later he worked at WTCW in Whitesburg and WKOY in Bluefield, West Virginia.

In 1969 he came to Louisville to work for WINN, as about half the other DJs in town have done at one time or another. In 1971 he took two jobs - daytime at WTMT and nights at WAKY. That went on until 1973, when he quit WAKY and became program director at WTMT.

Bill Bailey, WCII
Age: "Fiftyish"
Married - six times ("First time at 18"); three children
Hometown: New Bern, North Carolina

Bailey refuses to say how "fiftyish" he is. But it's believed he's 55, based on usually reliable information such as the statement that he got his first job in New Bern at age 18 playing 78 rpm records. He was born George Boahn in that tiny North Carolina town.

Louisville first heard his raspy ravings in 1965 over now-defunct WKLO. That job got him an offer to do his act on ABC-owned WLS in Chicago. "Hated it." He made a triumphant return to River City in 1969 over WAKY where he crowned himself "The Duke of Louisville." He has also spun records and spoken his piece on radio stations in Anchorage, Alaska; Chicago; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Salt Lake City; Houston; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He paints for fun and profit and would like to open a restaurant someday.

Dickie Braun, WAMZ-FM
Age: 54
Married; one son, one daughter

Braun got his first radio job in Ronceverte, West Virginia in 1952 at radio station WRON, a "position" that called for him to take tickets at the theater downstairs when hasn't on the air upstairs. Four years later he made the big time in Beckley, West Virginia, joining WWNR.

Braun got into radio because, as a victim of polio, he "spent a lot of shut-in time as a kid, and there wasn't much to do but listen to the radio." He still wears a brace because of the illness. His parents died when he was 12 and he was sent to the Industrial Home for Crippled Children. After high school he majored in accounting at the University of Pittsburgh and then took that announcing/ticket-taking job. Since then he's been heard in Buffalo, ("left after the first snow"), New Orleans and Cincinnati. He's also worked for WKLO, WLRS and WAVE in Louisville.

He's best known here for his 10-year stint as Wretched Richard on WINN in the '70s.

Ron Clay, WLRS-FM
Age: 30
Married; two daughters (6 and 3)
Hometown: New York City

Clay is half of the WLRS rush-hour show that's aptly dubbed "Morning Sickness." (The other half is Terry Meiners, about whom you'll read later.) Together they make up the resident wise guys who play a kind of can-you-top-this? game of one-liners between records.

Clay has been in Louisville four years, but he's done his routine on radio stations in Kansas City, St. Louis and Long Beach, California. He says he loves Lou-a-vul best of all. "I like the station and the people here." He got into radio because his father was in the radio production business.

Clay's hobbies are kids and dogs, and his favorite thing is "hiding out."

Tom Hardin, WXVW
Age: 33
Hometown: Taylorsville, Kentucky

He has been at the Jeffersonville, Indiana station for the past year and a half. He moved there from WINN, which had hired him away from WCND in Shelbyville. Hardin climbed the radio ladder in the traditional way - up through a series of small-town radio jobs that included tours in Williamsburg and Brandenburg, Kentucky.

"I've always enjoyed radio, but I'm also going to Ivy Tech at night with an eye toward a different future," he says. "I might like to get into the electronics and engineering part of the communications business. You only live so long." He thinks being a radio DJ is like being a ballplayer - "your prime time may be a short time."

R.G. Jones, WQMF-FM
Age 22
Hometown: Charleston, West Virginia

Jones has been at the rock station for a year and likes to refer to himself as "Rock 'n' Roll" Jones. His real first name is Rory. His family called him R.G. and a nickname of Rolan evolved into "Rock 'n' Roll" in Charleston.

By whatever name, R.G. got into radio at 14 "before, after and sometimes during school." He signed on as a "gofer" for his brother, who worked at WMOV in Ravenswood, West Virginia. The first time Jones was heard over the air was on a college station at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown. His first paying radio job was at WKLC in St. Albans, West Virginia. Jones later worked for a string of stations (four of them) in Parkersburg, where he was known to his fans as Dave Michaels. He managed to be heard over six stations before he was 21.

When he isn't making racquet over WQMF, he's on a racquetball court or out biking.

Evelyn Kelly, WAKY
Age: 28
Married; one very small daughter
Hometown: Detroit

Ev, as she's called by her husband, is half of one of the few husband-wife radio teams in the nation and the only one in Louisville. She's also the only woman DJ on drive-time morning radio in Louisville. The other half of her act (husband Tim) was also born in Detroit, but the two never met there. They traveled different paths to meet at a Denver radio station. Her parents sent her off to Europe to cool the romance. But Tim hocked his motorcycle to chase his true love.

He caught up with her and they've been a team ever since, but it hasn't been easy succeeding in broadcasting. It seems nobody wanted a twosome on the air, much less a married one. At some stations they had to use different names. In Boston she had to change her name to Beverly Hudson to work at the same station as her husband. KFI radio in Los Angeles was the first radio station to recognize their marriage, one that produced Elizabeth, the light of her mother's life and her only "hobby."

Tim Kelly, WAKY
Age: 33
Married; "one delightful daughter"
Hometown: Detroit

Ev's other, "but not necessarily better, half." Kelly ended up working for a radio station in Buffalo. From there he headed West, met Evelyn and their Silhouette-novel romance got under way. After their marriage they worked radio stations in Chicago, San Antonio, Boston and Washington - but not as a team. "Radio is the reverse of society," Kelly says. "Everybody wants to be married; radio wants a couple to keep it a secret." They finally got to work as a team at KFI in Los Angeles in 1979. Then last September Ev and Tim got a call from WAKY.

Would they like to be on during the morning rush hour, radio's prime time? They would and still are.

Danny King, WAVG
Age: 35
Married; one daughter
Hometown: Louisville

"Yeah, I'm one of the few who grew up here. I got my first job at the old WREY in New Albany as a DJ and clean-up man." He also put in a year at WKRX, which became WVEZ-FM. In 1970, he signed on - where else? - at WINN radio, where he did an all-night show and was program director.

By 1972, he was a little down on radio and itching to try his hand at the recording-studio business. The result? "I lost a bundle." So King went to WAVE in 1974. In 1980 he took a shot at teaching broadcasting at a school in Connecticut. A year and a half of that convinced him that he belonged behind the mike and he rejoined WAVE radio, which became WAVG last year when WLRS bought it.

He's married to an airline stewardess and they plan to open an art gallery and gift shop, "sometime in the future." In his spare time he likes to collect and refinish antiques and go up, up and away in hot-air balloons.

Gary Major, WKJJ
Age: 35
Married; two children (5 months and 19 months)
Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan

Major got his first radio job at WCOW in Sparta, Wisconsin in 1966 when he was 19. "It never got above 20 below. I froze my tail off for 10 days and then left." He went back home to Saginaw, which he insists is warmer, and worked for three different radio stations there. But he yearned for still warmer climes, and he climbed into his car in 1972 and headed for Norfolk, Virginia.

A year or so later, however, he was being heard over WKLO In Louisville, where he stayed for six years until it became WKJJ. Then he went of to Decatur, Illinois to learn management, and found out that "it was a dumb move." In 1980 Major came back to town to work at WAVE radio just in time for the station to be sold out from under him. He found himself out of a job, but he landed on his feet back at WKJJ, where he likes the climate.

"Louisville is my home. If I have to choose between being in radio and being in Louisville, I would choose Louisville."

About the DJ business he says: "If you can't make a few waves, it's no fun. In this business you have to take the knocks. Some manager will always want you to part your hair on the other side or the new owner won't like your tone of voice." But, just like the rest of the DJs, he loves radio. "Except the part where you have to get up at 4:15 after you've been up at 3:15 with the baby."

Terry Meiners, WLRS-FM
Age: 25
Hometown: Louisville

Meiners is the other half of WLRS' Ron Clay-Terry Meiners, Ripley's-Believe-It-or-Not, R-rated radio show. His first memory of a radio station was Coyote Calhoun showing him the ropes as a teenager when Calhoun worked at WAKY radio in 1975. "I spent my summers hanging out there."

Meiners grew up in the Germantown area, but left at 18 to study communications at the University of Kentucky. While he was there he worked four years as disc jockey for WKQQ in Lexington. "Once I got tired of radio and tried running a grocery store. That came to a fast finish when somebody threatened my life." He finds gag radio much safer. And the pay's good too - "$102 a week."

Neal O'Rea, WLOU
Age 25
Hometown: Louisville

In spite of his age, O'Rea's a veteran disc jockey. He started with WLOU when was just 16. "I was working at a restaurant and they had the radio on. I thought, 'Hey I can do that.' So I looked into it, found out what I had to do, which was study and get a Federal Communications Commission license in those days. I did it by studying at the library.

"After I got the ticket I contacted some friends and made an audition tape. I was nervous, but I sounded very confident. The next thing I knew my classmates at Central were hearing me on WLOU."

That was 1973. He's had offers from stations in cities up North but they didn't sound good. A feeler from a Dallas station in tempting, too, "but I love this city. My family and my friends are all here. It would have to be an awfully good offer to get me to say goodbye to Louisville."

Wayne Perkey, WHAS
Age: 44
Married; three daughters, two songs
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Perkey is the dean of DJs in Louisville, in terms of service at one station - 12 years. He's also one of the few who has never worked at WINN or any other stations here.

He was studying to be either a lawyer or a diplomat at the University of Tennessee when a friend "saw a notice that the campus radio station was auditioning for announcers. He said, 'Let's go try it for fun.' I said, 'You've got to be kidding, with our hillbilly accents.'" But Perkey got the job and he's been talking to microphones ever since.

His first paying job was at WNOX in Knoxville. Then he went to Mobile, Alabama, and put in three years at WALA-TV. After that he settled into his WHAS job.

Off air, Perkey's a man for all seasons, coaching Little League football, basketball and baseball. He loves it. What he doesn't like is getting up at 4 in the morning to come to work. But he has a daughter at UK, another in law school and a third in medical school, which explains why he puts up with the early hours.

Drewe Phinny, WRKA-FM
Age: 32
Hometown: Philadelphia

Like the other record players and yarn spinners, Phinny has been around the radio loop. He's worked in Atlantic City, Des Moines "and other hot spots." He also put in time on stations in Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia before he came to WRKA in 1980.

Not long after he joined the station, doctors found that he had a brain tumor. "I was scared. I had been in Vietnam, but this was a lot worse." Surgeons successfully removed the tumor, which the doctor had thought was malignant, and it was found to be benign. Now Phinny's back at work with "a few leftover" problems from the surgery "but nothing I can't handle." He found the station and people to be "wonderful" during his illness. "I'm here forever, and I'm not just saying that."

Now his very favorite thing is Redbird baseball. "I go every other night and eat hot dogs. I'm wild about it, but I gotta cut down on the popcorn and peanuts."

Bob Reis, WINN
Age: 26
Hometown: Louisville

Here's somebody working at WINN right now. Reis is a Waggener High School graduate, class of 1973, who "just sort of stumbled" into radio. He first worked at WQHI when it was an automated station, meaning that the only announcing involved delivering the time, weather and a few headlines on the hour.

He liked fooling around electronics so much that he stuck around six years. "They liked my voice, and I liked the production side of the business." But in 1981 the station was sold and its call letters were changed. Reis was out and all set to stand in the unemployment line when WINN, which was undergoing another in a continuing series of palace revolutions, offered him a job.

Jim Todd, WXLN
Age: 28
Married; two sons (3 years and 3 months)
Hometown: North Platte, Nebraska

Todd got his first job in his hometown when he was going to North Platte Junior College. A friend submitted his name to a radio station. The officials there asked for an audition tape, liked what they heard and made him an offer. "It was crazy. I'd never even thought about going into radio." He was a college math and physics major. "But radio is mixed up with all that electronic stuff, so I felt right at home. The longer you work in radio the more you become addicted."

Todd stuck around North Platte until 1977, when he joined WOBS in New Albany, Indiana, and also taught electronics at Ivy Tech. Four years ago he switched to WXLN.

Mark Williams, WJYL
Age: 34
Hometown: Long Beach, California

Williams says he knew he wanted to be on radio when he was only 10 years old. He grew up in the Los Angeles area, where there are almost as many radio stations as listeners.

"There were lots of big radio personalities in those days, and it was very exciting business. Besides, I've always loved anything to do with music and electronics." So, like other would-be DJs, he started hanging around radio stations. KLFM in Long Beach adopted him as a gofer when he was 14 and he ferried coffee back and forth for the DJs, feeling very important. The day finally came when one of the on-the-air whizbangs got sick. "The general manager pointed his finger at me and said, 'You're going on the air.' You have to realize it wasn't a very big station and nobody probably knew I was ever on."

But it was the beginning of an eight-station jaunt up and down the California Coast, from San Jose to San Diego. In San Bernardino, California, he met Jim Markam who later moved to WAVE radio in Louisville and brought Williams east in the summer of 1979. But then Markam left, and Williams went to WZZX, which became WJYL about 18 months ago.