• 59°

Kent Bernhardt: Gone, or fading fast

You can wait and you can hope, but some things are fading fast, and will probably never return.

Fortunately, I’m not talking about things like technicolor sunsets, a good steak, or the warm embrace of a loved one. Those may come and go or diminish in frequency, but we’ll always have them in some form.

But there are some things we may have to wave goodbye to forever, I’m afraid. I thought about that recently while reading the blog of an old radio acquaintance.

He was lamenting the passing of the behemoth AM radio stations of yesteryear, filled to the brim with larger than life personalities who made you look forward to the end of the record so you could hear their next witticism or kind word.

Cars had no FM radios in those days, so AM radio was king. I remember two of my favorites well; WBT and WAYS.

In the 1960s, when I was just beginning to discover the radio dial, they were beaming into our homes and cars with their own unique mix of music, comedy, and of course the latest news, weather, and sports.

WAYS caught my ear first. The station was known as BIG WAYS, and their personalities were the “Good Guys,” featuring names like Jack Gale and Long John Silver. Through the early morning static, I strained to hear every word, joke, and even an occasional song.

Radio was big on imaginary comical characters in those days, and WAYS didn’t disappoint. There was a fictitious weather man named Lowell Pressure who just couldn’t quite seem to get his words to come out right, and ended each weather forecast with a corny joke.

“Why is watermelon so wet?” Lowell queried one morning.

“I don’t know, Lowell. Why IS watermelon so wet?” asked a bemused Jack Gale.

“Because its seeds are planted in the spring!”

The punchline usually wasn’t nearly as funny as the cackling of a female voice that followed, identified only as “the boss’s mother.”

“Mother! Pull yourself together!” Gale would groan.

Corny? Yes. But AM radio was built on fun in those days. The more fun, the higher the ratings. And it was the 1960s. America was in short supply of fun.

WBT was the conservative beacon of the Carolinas during most of the 1960s, but by the early 70s, the station had loosened its tie a bit. Along with an adult contemporary format, WBT introduced a new flight of personalities to the region, including H. A. Thompson and Bob Lacey.

Thompson was their long time midday host with a gift for caller interaction. He was never naughty, but his callers would often reveal intimate details of their lives you couldn’t believe they were sharing. Subsequently, you never wanted to miss a word.

Lacey had the gift of gab as well, and was rewarded with his own nighttime talk show, “Lacey Listens.” WBT could be heard up and down the east coast in the evening hours, so callers from New England to Florida reveled in his mix of gentle humor and topical conversation.

He would never remember it, but while I was supposed to be studying for exams in early December of 1974, I joined a chorus of my fellow UNCC dorm mates to serenade Bob with a few Christmas carols over the phone line.

He was wonderfully gracious, and made us promise to call him back a little closer to Christmas to sing for him again. A week or two later, many of us made a special trip to our UNCC dorm to do just that.

Such was AM radio of the 60s and 70s, before it got political and angry, and before competition from the FM dial.

Times may have changed what pours from our radios, but thankfully, many local markets — this one included — have strived to keep AM radio relevant and entertaining.

God bless each one of them. Such stations in the past became a friend to the friendless and made us feel like a special part of their family.

And family is something we could use a lot more of today.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

 

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalPostLifestyle/ and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post

Comments

Business

‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home

Education

Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data

News

Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine

News

Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law

Local

Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award

Landis

Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

College

College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1

Nation/World

Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed

Nation/World

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

BREAKING NEWS

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native