In the 1960s, WFLI-AM in Lookout Mountain took Top 40 music out over the airwaves, serving the Chattanooga and middle Tennessee area. Popular disc jockeys left their mark on broadcasting and, though many left to pursue other interests, they've looked back fondly on their time on the radio.
One of those DJs was Nick Smith, who now calls Crossville home. In December, Smith attended an annual luncheon for Chattanooga area radio and TV broadcasters both past and present. There, Smith got to catch up with some of his friends from his radio days, including the group from WFLI-AM. David Carroll, a former DJ at JetFli in Lookout Mountain and anchor for WRCB in Chattanooga, organizes the luncheon to bring these memories together and to talk about the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.
Founded with the purpose of honoring the pioneers of radio broadcasting in Tennessee and preserving the rich history of the stations that beamed music into homes across the state and around the nation, the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame inducted several notable personalities in 2013.
William T. "Hoss" Allen III, "The Hossman," developed a near-cult following for his live commercials for a wide range of products. He also DJ'd the overnight black gospel and "Early Morning Gospel Time" on WLAC out of Nashville, which served 28 states. Also inducted from WLAC was John "R" Richbourg, who was one of the original four caucasian DJs playing rhythm and blues music at night on the station.
Jack DeWitt was president of WSM from 1947 to 1968 and brought the first radio transmitting tower and commercial broadcasting station to Nashville in 1922. WSM also produced inductee Grant Turner, known as the "Voice of the Grand Ole Opry," where he served for 47 years.
Many University of Tennessee fans may recall the first play-by-play announcer for the Vol Network, Lindsey Nelson, where he worked from 1948 to 1952.
Larry Munson brought broadcast coverage of the Vanderbilt Commodores men's basketball team to Nashville's WSM. He went on to become the play-by-play voice of the Georgia Bulldogs.
WSM was honored as the 2012 Legendary Station of the Year for its 87 years of broadcasting. In 1925, WSM launched the iconic Grand Ole Opry program, called WSM Barn Dance. The program is the longest running radio program in history.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Bill Barry, who played a key role in starting WPLN-FM in Nashville and owned or grew other Nashville area stations throughout his career.
Career Inductees are Ralph Emery, Gerry House, Wink Martindale, Luther Masingill, Scott Shannon and John Ward.
A new slate of nominations has been prepared and voting will begin after the first of the year on the 2013 class.
The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame is seeking other radio broadcasters, past and present, to help preserve the history of radio broadcasting in Tennessee. Two types of membership are available. Full membership, at $25 a year, includes voting privileges and is open to anyone who has worked in radio in Tennessee for at least two years over any period of time. That work does not have to have been on air, but in any capacity in the radio industry.
The Associate membership, $15 a year, is open to all others, including listeners and radio fans. These members do not have voting privileges but are able to attend yearly induction ceremonies and other events.
To learn more, visit www.tennradiohalloffame.org.