Without listeners what would radio be? The fallen tree in the forest that no one heard?
From a potpouri of programming six decades ago to today's "Chillicothe's Most Interesting Talk", we've seen much, shared much and look forward to what tomorrow brings. We've cried, laughed, encouraged when defeated, trumpted fanfare for jobs well done. This is a section for listeners to share recollections of events they've heard on WBEX.
If you were interviewed by one of our announcers for winning a blue ribbon a Ross County Fair, we'd like to hear about it. Flood victims leaned upon the voice of Truman Morris in 1959 as he stayed mic-side for three days relaying emergency information. Were you listening? Where were you when Bill Spahr called a winning game for the Cavaliers? Perhaps you have fond memories of a Sock Hop at St. Mary's or the Armory with Dave Logan or Larry Roberts. This is your forum to share AND if you were listening when WBEX took the airwaves, we thank you for being there when it all started.
From Jackie Hummel:
Here is an item about WBEX that goes way back to the beginnings. In 1947 or 1948 my fourth grade class, under the direction of Helen Brown, Chillicothe City Schools' Elelmentary School Music teacher, presented a radio play on the life and songs of Stephen Foster. I performed the part of his daughter, sang solo, and had a small speaking part. I don't remember what I sang, however. My friend Phyliss-Lynne Recobs sang "I gotta shoes; you gotta shoes; all a God's chill'in gotta shoes". I don't remember the name of the character who sang the song. It was a long time ago, dontcha know. The class sang many of Foster's songs, and we thought we were really hot stuf. There were about 30 in the class, and this was very exciting to be singing and performing a play on the radio.
Jackie Story Hummel
From Don Head:
I joined the staff in November of 1959 as chief engineer/PM announcer and a lot of other things before leaving the premises some five years later.
My initial contact with WBEX actually occurred more than ten years prior to my employment when, as a student at McClain High School in Greenfield, I was part of a theatrical group that also performed radio dramas on WPFB in Middletown and WBEX (we were known as the WBEX-tras).
My primary assignment in the beginning was to hold down the night shift and begin planning for the plant/facility changes necessary to upgrade our transmitter from 250 watts to 1000 watts day/250 watts night and prepare to add a new 1000 watt FM transmitter. Since the original 'control room' was in the transmitter building... not the most commodious of facilities....and the downtown studio facilities had been closed some time before, the only pictures I have are those involved in building a new control room-studio combination and stripping the old control room out for the new transmitters.
(Editor's note: These pictures will soon be found in our photo gallery)
From Cacia Morris Orser:
I understand from Dave Grueser (Logan) that you are looking for WBEX stories to help celebrate the station's 60th anniversary. My father, Truman A. Morris, owned WBEX for nearly half of that period (28 years from 1952 -1980).
Truman bought the station in 1952 in partnership with John E. Halliday, a lawyer in Gallipolis, Ohio. They also owned WJEH in Gallipolis and WLMJ in Jackson. In 1955 he bought his partner's share of WBEX to become the sole owner.
My father had been working in radio in Owensboro and Lexington, KY and Huntington, WV before moving to Gallipolis to put WJEH on the air. He had very specific ideas about the role and responsibilities of small town local radio programming. He believed it should promote and support the community, but also bring his perspective of national events back to the town. He personally covered the atomic bomb tests in NV, national political conventions starting in 1952 thru 1968, and both the Allen Shepard and John Glenn space flights sending back his live reports to the people of Chillicothe.
His support of the community that supported us was evident in the programing he developed. He always loved sports and broadcasting the Cavaliers football and basketball games. He bought an English Ford van, nicknamed Gulliver, to travel to away games and carry the equipment he needed. As a teenager, I loved to go with him to see the local high school "stars" play in places like Newark, Cochocton, etc. The station always did remotes from the Ross County Fair during that week. Dave Logan did "Hops on the Hardtop" from Central Center playing rock'n roll. Bill Spahr did a daily program from inside the Central Center Big Bear store interviewing shoppers about local events.
As a little girl, 8 or 9 years old, I had a call-in program called "Kiddie Quiz". Collen Crozier Anderson and I asked questions and kids would call in the answers for prizes. Truman was the announcer and engineer. (Colleen still lives in Chillicothe). We were probably the youngest on air talent the station ever had. The week I turned 16 Truman took me to Columbus so that I could take the test to get my 3rd class engineers license. I went to work at WBEX in 1964 running a short shift and doing an after school program called "A Date with Kate". I played that new trendy folk music and interviewed High School students about sports, class plays, etc.
The most important local contribution Truman made was during the 1959 flood. He stayed on the air for 3 days broadcasting tips for people to prepare their homes for the rising waters and then serving as a contact point for separated families. Many of the staff lived north and east of downtown and were cut off from the Pohlman Rd. studio so Truman himself stayed on the air serving his community. One woman never forgave him for suggesting pounding a rubber ball into her bathtub drain to prevent water from coming into her home via that route. She couldn't get the ball out after the flood.
Truman was on city council and was the mayor of Chillicothe. He worked many long hours and even travelled to Washington, DC to obtain funding for the flood wall that now protects Chillicothe. I remember the radio was always on at our house. My dad would run to the phone at any hour, even during dinner, to call the announcer on duty if he heard a word mispronounced or a commercial missed. He took great pride in the quality of what WBEX was broadcasting.
When Truman retired and sold WBEX in May of 1980, he took up sailing. Walter Cronkite named his sailboat "Assignment" so that when he was sailing they would announce that Walter was " on Assignment". Truman named his boat "Remote". It had a stylized radio tower emitting radio waves painted on the side. Truman spent many happy hours "on Remote".
Truman died in January 2003. My mother, Trudy Morris, is still living in Ft. Myers, FL. She has a picture of Truman in a WBEX logoed station wagon heading off to cover the '52 convention and one of him broadcasting during the '59 flood. I've asked her to send you copies via "snail mail". My cousin Carolyn Morris Sayers grew up in the house next door to the Pohlman Rd station and probably has more memories of staff than I do. She is still in Chillicothe.
Thank you for your interest in the history of WBEX and for remembering my father's involvement in it.
From Bob Barber:
WBEX is 60 years old! WOW! Back in those early years Tom Artman and
John Berry were both part of the high class entertainment that emanated from the closet which passed for "The voice of South Central Ohio"! Good old Jake Noble was one of those earliest stars. One of his all time favorites that he would waft out over the morning radio waves was none other than "ROLLY POLLY DADDY"S LITTLE FATTY" The next line was "But he's gonna be a man someday"!
I enjoyed many, many hours of Waite Hoyte and The Cincinnati Reds from Crosley Field. That always arrived and left the air with "El Capitain", one of John Phillips Susa's best marches, sprinkled with Burger Beer - "The Beer That Brings You Baseball"!.
Then there was "Dinner Winner" along with the evening call in show. The Chillicothe Cavaliers won and lost many a Football and Basketball game on WBEX. The Hogs & Chickens from the Ross County Fair got some major air time too. And John Berry became a national hero as he broadcast the emergency messages concerning the flood during the winter of 1960 or 1961. Just a brief chapter in the life and times of Chillicothe,Ohio.
now from Lancaster, Ohio
From Nellmary (Graves) Fledderman:
I have three great memories of WBEX, and growing up in Chillicothe.
1. When I was in the lower grades of grade school, probably first or second, in the mornings my mother would have a pan of warm water on a chair in the kitchen where I would wash my face and hands and brush my teeth while Jake Noble, Slim Rudder and Roy Broughton were making music on WBEX.
2. When I was a little older, still in grade school, my mother made skirts and blouses alike for my sister, Martha and myself, and my daddy took us out to the fairgrounds. Jake Noble and the others were making music out there, I think on Saturday nights, like a Hayride, (maybe it was called the Ross County Hayride) anyway, my sister and I sang "Mockingbird Hill" on WBEX. Believe it or not, I still have an old, old, homemade recording of that night.
3. When I was in high school, my sister, Martha, and my friend Sharon and I had a trio and sang on the Highway Highlights program in the evenings after school. Lou Wagner was the DJ, and we called ourselves the Hiliters. We sounded like the McGuire Sisters. Really!!!!
Thanks for the chance to share. God bless you guys.
Nellmary (Graves) Fledderman.
My mom would wake up to WBEX every morning. I remember DJ Joe. And, if memory serves me right, Sally Flowers. Those were the good ole days :)
From "The Rotund One" Chip Arledge:
It was “Career Day” at Chillicothe High School in late 1974 or early 1975 when I attended a session on careers in broadcasting hosted by the late Don Hughes, then the general manager at WBEX-AM & FM. He told us if we really wanted to learn more about broadcasting, we should approach one of the stations’ play-by-play announcers at a local high school game as ask if we could be of any assistance.
That’s exactly what I did when I saw the late Grant McDonald at a basketball game in Richmondale when the Southeastern Panthers hosted my Adena Warriors. He told be to “plug in that drop cord.” “What’s a drop cord,” I asked having never heard that term sometimes used for an extension cord. The next thing you know, I’m keeping score and announcing the statistics at half time. And with that, my still-running 32-year broadcasting career was underway. My early influences at WBEX were Don Hughes, the late Bill Spahr, on-air talent Mike Kelly, Lee Stevens and others. I remember working with Jack Bartley, at the time a local legend and too many others to remember or mention.
I remember Mary Morris who oversaw the operation for her son. I also remember her damned dog that would do his business in the main studio from time to time. I remember the staccato rhythm of the Associated Press wire machine, the Gates Yard control board and the turntables that ran at the wrong speed. My career has enabled me to work with radio stations all over the country and to ply my craft in many places across the land, and I owe much of it to the folks at WBEX who recognized my passion for the business and the listeners who tolerated my lack of talent.
Congratulations to the staff and management of WBEX-AM for 60 years of service to Chillicothe and Ross County. I’m happy to be a small part of WBEX’s history.
From Larry Roberts:
Larry Roberts here, BEX alumni 58 and 59. Enjoyed your show with Dave, which I picked up on the internet. Yes, there was competition between us, and yes, I DID play the first rock and roll in Chillicothe. I had tried and tried to get a job there, and finally I asked Don Hughes how I could get on the radio. He suggested I sell my own show, and I said, "fine, but can I play the kind of music I want to" He said I could play anything I wanted. Thus the birth of the Midnight Dance Party every Sat night from Midnight to ONE...and I played rock and roll, a year before Logan ever came to work at WBEX.
Check with Pat McAlllister, I was home a couple of years ago, and he surprised my by remembering the theme song, the Woodchoppers Ball, we all had theme songs then. I also broadcast the first live sock hop in Chiilltown. Dick Rutherford and I, or maybe it was Worley Rodehaver climbed ladders and strung a phone line from the Herrenstein Field football broadcast booth over to Worthington Elementary where we broadcast a sock hop after every local game.
I was probably the first local radio personality to even do a sock hop in Chilly.. By somewhat of a fluke, its' actually how I got started in the biz. I was junior class pres at Unioto in 1958 and 1959. In 58, I called both WBEX and WCHI to get a dj for a hop my class wanted to sponsor , and neither station offered the service, so I borrowed my dad's (Roberts TV) sound equipment and a couple dozen 45's from Ralph Overly down at Laughlins music and did the hop myself, with many more to follow. the more I emceed the hops, the more I thought about getting on the radio. Even broadcast a hop one night from Unioto by tapping into the schools phone line.. Boy, was that a mistake, bleedover up and down the lines was incrediable.
When I played the first R&R, I also borrowed the 45s from Laughlin's Music down on South Paint St. because WBEX didn’t have any rock. There were playing Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day and Andy Williams. I even had a live band on the show sometimes. WBEX eventually hired me fulltime, the I joined WCHI. It was there on Sat from 2 to 4 I did a live sock hop from the basement of the VFW, while Dave did his at the Armory. I was sponsored by Pepsi, and his was Coke, We used to send spotters back and forth to see who had the most people, and even had our spotters try to steal away some of each others dancers.
Flood of 59? I was a senior in high school and announced from my dad's sound truck with huge speakers down Jefferson and Dayton and Douglas Avenue the evacuation as the water started coming in. I remember the waters picked up a car and slammed it into a utility pole on Douglas. I also remember when the manager or owner of Basic Construction climbed a tree down on east main. And the next day, Life Magazine had him climb it again so they could get a picture.
After WCHI, I went to Parkersburg/Marietta then my first "big" job at WCKY, 50,000 watts in Cincinnati. Also worked in Orlando and Miami radio, then to TV in 1976. Was the anchor at WCMH in 81 and 82, and then came back for four years as a reporter in 2000. TV markets included San Diego for ten years, and as a game show host in Miami in 74 and 75. My replacement on the game show was Larry King who worked almost every broadcast outlet in Miami.
WBEX was my first broadcasting job...thanks to some sponsors who backed me, and to Don Hughes who allowed me to play Rock and Roll. Every Sat. night at the Sumburger, you could hear it blasting of all the cars "cruising" the parking lot. I got cold chills back in March when I visited Lubbock and the grave of Buddy Holly, and wondered where his career would have gone, and as I stood there by his graveside I thought back to that night on WBEX when I announced his death. Im retired now,living in Grand Junction, Colorado, soon to move to Texas where my wife has been offered a job.
From Dave Logan:
I was with the station from 1959 until 1962 when I went to WTVN. Highlights I remember were doing these dances at the Armory, Elks and an open air sock hop at Central Center Shopping Center. At that time the Coca Cola Co. had a nation wide radio program called the Hi Fi Club that sponsored the events. I worked with Gene Fullen from WTVN TV who did the television version for Coke.We would take our kids up to appear on the TV show. And Gene would come to Chillicothe for personal appearances. ( Fun Times). Also a number of sock hops at the local school gyms.
In January of 1959 we had the great flood . The station was given FCC permission to operated 24 hours a day . It was the link for many for vital information. The station owner Truman Morris manned the mikes for most of the time as the staff was flooded out and couldn't get to the station. The station manage Don Hughes and I lived north of town and had to evacuate.
I met and worked with some great people at WBEX and have great memories of my time in Chillicothe.
Dave Logan a.k.a. Dave Grueser