In the early 70s, I first started to work in radio. AM radio was it in those days and I become very interested in working in this area after completing a 24 month course from Career Academy out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin after being discharged from the US Army in 1968.
I had a friend at the time that was working at WENR in Athens, Tennessee and my wife and I were visiting he and his wife one summer and so naturally I went to the station with him. He did the news for that station and took me along on a news call on that particular afternoon. Well, what I saw really turned my stomach. A precious older lady had been to the grocery store and was walking across the railroad tracks when struck by a train. As I arrived with my friend, Butch Pyle and saw the situation, I immediately went back to the car. As I was walking away, her son came upon the scene. I never forgot that. It was at that point I decided I really did not want to do news. Later, however, a similar situation presented itself when I was told early one morning after my shift at WNEX, to go to a local manufacturing plant where a strike was going on. One of the security guards had been killed. I think I was the second person on the scene with another station having a newsman on site when I arrived. I didn't like that situation any more than the one mentioned above.
Well, I did apply to a radio station after completing the course but wasn't hired. Then I applied at WBML in Macon and was hired as a DJ on weekends from 6 til 12 pm. At that time I was working for First National Bank. Shortly after that I was hired at WNEX Radio in Macon, Ga. I worked the midnight shift from 12 to 6 am. at WNEX. I then recorded news before I left and it was played for a couple of hours or so later.
I might add that I was a college student while working in radio during this time period and was not interested in making a career out of radio. I didn't really have any illusions that one day I would be some sort of famous broadcaster.
The format at the Big X as it was called at the time was rock and of course that pleased me just fine. I worked with some real characters during that time frame. Some of them to name a few were Jerry Walker, whose real name was Lamar Studstill, Buddy Wheeler, Bill Elder, Jim Pryor, Ted Clark, and Terry Taylor. Buddy Wheeler and myself would work also at WDEN-FM together. He was a special friend of mine in radio.
A couple of special memories while I worked at WNEX stand out. One was when the Allman Brothers came to the station in the wee hours of the morning, climbing the ladder by the control room window and asking me to play one of their records, which I did. I was startled and a little scared when I opened the shudders and lifted the window to see those long haired fellows making that request. Another time Lamar Studstill and myself teamed up on Our Community to interview Bobby Bryant, all pro cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings as he was being honored on Bobby Bryant Day in Macon. Bobby actually came to my house where we did my part of that interview. I had graduated with Bobby at Willingham High School in 1963.
I was very interested in sports especially football and had always been so when Lamar asked me one day if I was interested in learning how to do play by play football, I jumped at the chance. Lamar was someone that I really looked up to during those days. He was teaching part time at a local college at that time. I think he was the smartest guy that I worked with in radio. One thing I never forgot that he told me. He said if you ever work in radio you will always be able to get a job somewhere if you want one. Lamar now owns 7 radio stations in Mendota, Illinois.
So, we go to a game I believe that was in Griffin one Friday night and at half time, Lamar tells me, he is going to get something to eat and that he is leaving it with me. I was scared to death, but wouldn't you know on the second half kick off the team we were broadcasting ran back the kick for a touchdown. Well, that was all it took. Later at WNEX I did what we called live reports from some of the more interesting football games. A year or two later, I did play by play by myself and I knew right away that doing play by play football was much more exciting to me than dee jaying. Looking back today on how that begin, I realized that when I was left by myself to do play by play , that was the best way for me to learn. I could have fell on my face, but I didn't and felt like soon after that I was able to do a decent job. I left WNEX after about a year and went to a smaller town about 30 minutes from Macon. I was there for a short while and came back to WNEX and worked for a couple more years.
One story about WDEN is a bit funny. Ray McDonald, the engineer would come on my shift to do maintenance on the equipment and I would kid him and offer to buy him some Krystal hamburgers if he would turn the station off on my shift to do some of the repairs. Well, Terry Culpepper, who was the midnight guy would always fuss and say, yeah, Ray would always sign the station off on Aubrey's shift and then when I came on at 12 midnight you were very prompt in signing it back on.
Later I did play by play football for another radio station in Gordon, Georgia, WKOG. Some of those games were extremely memorable as we did all of the Wilkinson County High School Football games as well as a private school called Gordon Ivey. Both of these teams went to the playoffs that year. It was my pleasure to work with Carlton Veasey and Don Marchman while doing those games. Needless to say, I became a big fan of those teams.
In fact, Don Marchman with the Gordon Ivey Rebels agreed to come and coach my midget football team at practice one evening to give them pointers.
I did go back to WNEX for the third time in the 80s for a summer and also did play by play football and basketball for them in the fall as well.
I worked for the following stations during that time frame: WKOG,WBML, WNEX. WPGA, WDEN, WFNE, and later did a television program for 8 years on WCOX TV Macon, Ga. From 1986 until 1992 while working in the mental health field, I did a monthly radio show on WSFT Radio in Thomaston, Ga working there with the late Bill Heule, part owner of WSFT and Bill Chapman, two very good human beings. This show accented mental health topics. We had some outstanding guests for the 6 years that program ran.
I feel fortunate to have worked in radio for those years, which included the 70s, 80s, 90s. Regrets? No not really. I learned a lot about radio and the people that worked there. And along the way, I met some nice people.