|Since an initial meeting of 25 former and current radio broadcasters back in December 2010, the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame has grown into a self-supporting organization with a proven track record.
The mission is to help preserve and perpetuate the legacy (importance) of radio throughout the Volunteer State from Mountain City to Memphis.
Hall of Fame members choose individuals each year who have distinguished careers in the field of radio: ownership, management, sales and on-air personalities. The organization is in the process of collecting memorabilia to be housed in a permanent location.
Governed by a 15 member board of directors, the Tennessee Radio HOF will induct its second class of honorees on Saturday, May 4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
Seven people will be inducted into the Career Category, which honors those still living and in many cases still working in radio broadcasting. They include:
• Les Acree, a legendary Country Music programmer and consultant who worked at stations in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.
• Charlie Chase, best known as host of Crook & Chase on television. Chase began his radio career as a youngster growing up in Rogersville; later moving to Nashville.
• Rick Dees rose to national fame while working in Memphis. He wrote and recorded “Disco Duck” which sold six-million copies.
• Tommy Jett, one of the original “Jet Fli” guys on WFLI in Chattanooga. He is still broadcasting after 52 years as the “fastest Jett in the air”.
• George Klein has a 50 year radio and television career in Memphis. He was a close friend to Elvis Presley and even toured with the King of Rock ‘N Roll for a while.
• R.M. “Bob” McKay Jr. started WKRM in Columbia in 1946 and was a founding member of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters in 1949. Now retired, he spent 62 years in radio.
• Pat Sajak was a DJ with the Armed Forces Radio Network and later with WSM in Nashville before getting into television. He has been the host for Wheel of Fortune for 30 years.
The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame will also induct nine persons posthumously into the Legacy Category, including:
• Noel Ball was known as Nashville’s first flamboyant rock DJ. He also managed the careers of some up and coming artists and was a record producer.
• Allen Dennis was a Country and Top 40 air personality whose career spanned 50 years including Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.
• Tennessee Ernie Ford began his radio career in his native Bristol and later worked in Knoxville. Following World War II, he resumed his radio career in California. He is best remembered for his music that included Country, Pop and Gospel. His signature song was “Sixteen Tons.”
• Coyote McCloud had successful careers in Chattanooga and Nashville. He was featured in a CBS television documentary on “shock radio” in 1992.
• Luke Medley put WHUB radio on the air in Cookeville in 1940. As a community leader, he was instrumental in the growth of Cookeville and Putnam County holding several key political and civic offices.
• George Mooney was the voice of the Tennessee Volunteers from 1952 until 1967. In 1958, he began Mooney Broadcasting which had stations in Knoxville and Nashville.
• Dewey Phillips worked in Memphis radio and is recognized as the area’s leading personality with his “Red, Hot and Blue Show” a mix of R & B, Country, Boogie-woogie and jazz. On July 8, 1954, he was the first DJ to play “That’s Alright” the debut Sun Records release by a young Elvis Presley.
• Drue Smith was a pioneering female broadcaster beginning in Chattanooga. After moving to Nashville in the 1960s, she became a legislative radio reporter on Capitol Hill.
• Rufus Thomas was one of the most influential DJs in radio history playing records in Memphis from 1948 to 2001.
He was renowned for his recording success and even has a street named in his honor in the Bluff City.
The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame Legendary Station of the Year for 2013 is WDIA in Memphis, the first radio station in America that was programmed by African Americans for African Americans.
The station was home to names such as Rufus Thomas, B.B. King and Isaac Hayes.
As president of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame, I personally invite readers to learn more about our organization by going online to tennradiohalloffame.org and for information on the upcoming induction ceremony, call 615-365-1840.