Remembering mentor and friend, Orval Cox
By Buddy Poole
Special to the Salisbury Post
In 1957, at China Grove Elementary School, I first met Orval Cox. He was the morning show host at “The Family Station” 1280 WSAT. He was at the PTA meeting because his daughter was a student at China Grove and they lived in the school neighborhood. My mom listened to him every morning, so he was a big celebrity to us. He had dark hair and a moustache. After seeing him I would tell everyone, that’s Mr. Cox, you know, the guy on the radio.
In the mid-1950s, Orval started to broadcast China Grove Red Devils football on WSAT. I can still hear the band play “Cheer, cheer for old China Grove,” the Notre Dame fight song and Orval would come on the radio and say…”CHINA GROVE RED DEVIL FOOTBALL IS ON THE AIR.” Of course, they played Concord, Kannapolis, Thomasville, Albemarle, Asheboro, Mooresville, Winecoff and Statesville in the old South Piedmont Conference.
According to Dale Kiger, he, Orval and these men — banker Angus Currie, agriculture teacher John Allison, drug store owner John Brown, Highway Patrolman Joe Bracy and heating and air man Craig Taylor — were all golfing buddies. Orval loved China Grove and Rowan County.
I got to know Orval very well. When I came out of the Army, he became my boss at North Carolina’s first country music station, WTIK 1310, The Big K in Durham. He taught me to communicate with our listeners and was very patient in doing so. We also broadcast Northern Durham High School games together. Many of the country stars came by the station on Leon Street to bring their current records.
Orval was a fine musician and loved racing. He has a place in Rowan history and should be in the Rowan Sports Hall of Fame for his play-by-play of China Grove football.
I called Orval several times a year, and his son Cliff told me, “My Dad is very proud of you and looks forward to hearing from you.” Orval, I will always remember you and will never forget those words, “China Grove Red devil football is on the air.”
Buddy Poole works at WSAT Memories 1280 radio station in Salisbury.