Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working in Radio


I first came to Nash County and Rocky Mount in 1938 to accept a position on the announcing and copy-writing staff of radio station WEED-AM. My salary was $22.50 per week.

WEED was the only radio station east of Raleigh in 1938. Avera Wynne was the owner and manager. On the staff when I arrived were: announcers Wally Williams, Carl McKinney, and Bernard Proctor. Ike Murphrey, a Rocky Mount native, and Roy Bechtol, from Pennsylvania, were our engineers. Our sales manager was B. W. Frank. Later, Ray Bandy and Jack Cummings worked in sales, as did I.

I spent my first week in Rocky Mount at the Cambridge Hotel on Main Street. My room was on the second floor front and the trains going by the front door of the hotel made sleeping difficult for the first two or three nights. I ate my meals at the Palace Restaurant, the New York Café, and the Royal Palm Restaurant.

After a week at the Cambridge Hotel, I secured a nice room with Mr. and Mrs. Jim Frank Avent on Forrest Hill Drive in Englewood, just two blocks from the studios of WEED. The room, including laundry, was $3 per week. I soon discovered Mrs. Sally Edwards' boarding house on Church Street, just across from the Masonic Temple. I took my meals with Mrs. Edwards. For $7 per week, I had lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

Radio WEED featured a lot of local, live talent on the air. Perhaps the best known at that time were Talmadge Pollard and Paul Byrd, "The Johnson County Ramblers," sponsored by Planters Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Co. The emcee for the show was "Uncle" Eddie Burwell. Other artists who performed during the early years were: Curley Red and his Melody Boys, Everette and Pearlie Ashley, the "Ashley Brothers," and Atwood Gurganus with brothers Julius and Irvin. Inez Cobb was one of our better singers and was featured on many programs. Lucille Arnold of Red Oak was our staff pianist and played for Inez and a number of other local entertainers that appeared at the station.

One of the most professional groups to appear on WEED was Tex Dean and the Carefree Cowboys, sponsored by Priddy Fertilizer. I wrote the commercials and announced the show for several years.

I met and married Martha High of Red Oak in 1941. We live in Greenville, North Carolina.

[This story was one of many collected through the Nash County Cultural Center's Oral History Project during the late 1990s. Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount has the full collection of stories. This story was first published in The Connector, the newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Spring 1999 issue.]

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