1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Long Winding Trail
Herman King Sept. 2009

When I first arrived in the employment of WGH ( "in old Virginia" the foghorn ID would say) the great morning man, George Crawford, made an on-air joke about one of the station's commercials (sort of reminded me of Arthur Godfrey's lack of respect for his show's sponsors). I believe it was Sunkist Lemons. George said: "Have you noticed there's one at every radio station, and he always becomes manager?" I thought that was a harsh assessment until I worked there for a while. The man is still alive and in a nursing home, so I won't reveal his name. But he made one of the stupidest decisions I ever knew someone who had reached management level to make. While driving through Richmond one night he had his car radio tuned to one of its most powerful stations (it could have been WRVA). He liked the voice of the night man so when he returned to Hampton he instructed the program director to hire the man without further adieux. The PD made a call and the guy hustled on down. It wasn't easy in those days to get a job on WGH. But as soon as the dj went on the air, it became hilariously clear that the manager had made a BIG mistake. The fellow's voice and delivery were substandard. They had hired the wrong person! The announcer heard was a substitute for the regular announcer who was on vacation or somewhere that night. What a stupid mistake. A couple more "lemons" while I am on this subject. Both were head honchos at the country station in York County, WKEZ (formerly WYVA). Bob Laferme (deceased) was thinking how to increase the station's ratings and came up with the idea (?) of giving a double station ID on the half-hour: "10:45 - 15 till 11."It didn't affect the ratings one way or the other, so it was dropped after one of the deejays started playing with it (9 after 9, 9:9). But the stupidest decision ever made by a radio station that I ever worked for came from the successor to Laferme. He too is still alive (and in luxurious retirement) so I won't identify him. (Hey, I'm that kinda guy)!

The news staff (of which I was a part) was ordered not to use the newspaper but give only stories that originated with us. We had three newsmen. Two reported on air, the third was the field guy. The Daily Press had 15 reporters working round the clock. Most county offices didn't open until 8 or 9 so the only early news WKEZ had were those carried over. We were limited to "soft" news, usually known as public service announcements. I knew the owner's son who managed the station was too intelligent, despite his lack of experience, to have made such a goofy decision. It was if management was deliberately destroying its news department. At first I erroneously blamed the program director. It was my experience that whenever the program department gets into trouble with management, for whatever reason, they seek to deflect criticism toward the only other department on the air. The news department. But when the "old man" came by to check on his boys (which he did frequently) I realized he had made the decision. When I told him how ridiculous such a decision was, he was taken aback and began trying to justify it. George Crawford had told the truth about lemons and managers.

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