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
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
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
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
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
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
Ron Clay, WLRS-FM
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
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
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
Evelyn Kelly, WAKY
Married; one very small daughter
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
Married; "one delightful daughter"
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
Would they like to be on during the morning rush hour, radio's prime time?
They would and still are.
Danny King, WAVG
Married; one daughter
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Drewe Phinny, WRKA-FM
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
Bob Reis, WINN
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
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
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
Mark Williams, WJYL
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
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.