Several years back, I still remember my one and only meeting with Tony Turner, who was the longtime WYMT station manager and news director. Tony was a legend in journalism here in the mountains.
He was well respected and well-loved for good reason.
The day I met him; Tony was in Williamsburg covering layoffs that then Whitley County Sheriff Ancil Carter was making after losing the primary election.
I remember Tony saying something to Ancil that will forever be etched into my memory. “God has a plan for everything. We may just not know what it is at the time.”
Tony stayed in Williamsburg to do a live broadcast at 6 p.m. that evening. It would be his last.
As he was driving home on Ky. 92E after the broadcast, Tony was involved in a wreck and suffered serious injuries that would go on to claim his life a few weeks later.
My one meeting with Tony left me with a lasting memory, and a good life lesson.
This brings me to a story from back when I was in high school. It was spring 1989, and I was completing my senior year in high school.
WYGO had recently dropped its rock n’ roll format and changed its format to country and the station name to WKDP or KD Country as everyone knows it today.
Most of my friends and myself lamented the change and didn’t much care for country music too much in those days. My good and crazy buddy, Bob Shahan, convinced me to partner with him on a project.
He wanted to start an hourly rock n’ roll radio program called What’s Hot on Saturdays on the WKYX radio, which was off the four-lane towards Gray. It was a little AM station that Joey Kesler and Dave Carrier owned.
We went out and sold ads to pay for the programing time. We bought the music we played ourselves. The station only broadcast on low power at night so it really had limited range.
Looking back, it had no chance of being successful, which is something that everybody probably knew but us…LOL.
Bob left after week 11, and the radio show only lasted for 13 weeks, which was the length of contract for most of the ads that we sold.
Even a bad business venture can have good consequences though.
My grades plus the creation of the radio program impressed the scholarship people over at Cumberland College enough to give me a $7,500 academic scholarship to attend there.
I commuted to school, and the scholarship coupled with full financial aid resulted in me paying out no money for tuition during my first year of college. I only had to get a $750 student loan to cover tuition for my second year of college.
In regards to WKYZ radio, the folks over there took a liking to me, and I landed a very part-time job while I was in college helping out on the weekends, and working the control board as the station simulcasted Eastern Kentucky University football games in the fall. Back then EKU football was pretty darn good and probably could have beaten UK most years if the Wildcats would have played them, which they didn’t for that very reason.
I also ended up doing bookkeeping for the radio station for a while, and did the logs in terms of what ads would run and when. I got this job because after the previous bookkeeper left, I was the only one in the building, who knew how to turn the computer on…LOL.
Getting back to my brief radio show, there were two people, who bought ads for it, that I have never forgotten. One was Hettie Owens over at Owens Auto Parts in Corbin, who I had known since I was a little kid.
The other was Pizza and Company owner Lin Collett, who didn’t know me and Bob Shahan from Adam, but decided to help out a couple of young guys with a goofy idea by buying an ad for a few weeks. He also gave us gift certificates for pizzas pretty much every week that we gave out to our very few listeners, who called in.
Lin Collett passed away last week at the age of 83. I’m sure that he had probably long ago completely forgotten about buying the ads or donating the pizzas, but I never did.
To this day, I still give Owens and Pizza and Company quite a bit of business in part because of they bought those ads so many years ago.