I have been considering for a long time doing a website devoted to the radio stations of the Roanoke Valley. My affection for radio started when I was 6 years old. My dad who was into short-wave radio, put an antenna and reciever in out attic and was able to listen to morse code and write down what was being transmitted. I thought it was so neat. From that day forward I knew I wanted to be in broadcasting.
When I was in the 3rd grade we had an old tube type amplifier that only had a speaker but no microphone. In the attic was an old drive-in speaker. For those of you who don't remember drive-ins, the speaker was attached to a pole and you would put inside your car to hear the sound of the movie. Anyway I attached the drive-in speaker to the output of the amplifier and put it outside my house. Then took the speaker, which was at least 12 inches in diameter and hooked it to the input of the amplifier. Presto! I had a primitive microphone. I still remember all the neighborhood kids outside my window listing to my radio show.
For Christmas of 1958, I received a crystal radio receiver with an ear plug. We lived near what became Towers Shopping Center. Back then there was only a field, two towers and a transmitter building for WDBJ radio. Needless to say that was the only station I received. I remember going to sleep each night listening to the "Talk of the Town" featuring Ron Lindamood. The most requested song that year was Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover".
In the daytime we listened to Jerry Joynes on WROV. He was always having contests giving away prizes for naming the artist of the oldie they were playing. It didn't take me long to become an expert on music. The secret though was not knowing the artist and song but was being able to be the first caller to get through with the correct answer. I had a method. In the day there were only rotary telephones and I knew the contest were always held at 40 minutes past the hour. So I would carefully dial the the first 4 digits (3-4444) then at twenty minutes before the hour I would dial the final 4 and leave my finger in the hole making sure not to release the dial. When the question was asked, then I'd release the dial. It wasn't too long that they changed the rules that you could only win every 30 days.
Anyway to make a long story short I ended up in radio and remained in the field for over twenty years, working for most Roanoke valley stations, and several in surrounding cites including markets in Winston-Salem, Bristol, and Armed Forces Radio in Italy.
Today I'm am still involved in the music business as a mobile DJ. I refer to it as a hobby, however my wife calls it an obsession! It will take a while but we intend to have a complete history of Roanoke Radio available on this site. I want to thank Curtis Downey, former producer for WDBJ and Roanoke Radio Historian. Curtis has helped fill in the gaps. I also want to thank Pat Garrett who has done a super job on the WROV Memories web page for encouraging me with this project.
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