accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Radio’s Red Neckerson passes away, 1935-2010

RedNeckerson_667711lGary Corry, best known on Atlanta radio as “Red Neckerson,” died Tuesday night at his home in Cumming. He was 74.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Illinois native was program director and creative services director for former top 40 station 790/WQXI-AM and head writer for the popular Gary McKee Morning Show. There, Corry created the Neckerson character, who would make daily commentaries. He’d play off the news or just make funny observations like why bugs always hit the windshield right in the driver’s line of sight.

“It was the country-based version of Paul Harvey,” said Don Benson, who worked with him from 1974 to 1986 and now oversees Star 94 and other radio properties.  “It was grounded in honest, homespun simplicity.”

Eventually, Corry would syndicate his commentaries to more than 300 stations nationwide. The character would become so much a part of Corry, he’d answer to the name Red and stay in character during radio appearances.

“Gary Corry was a very private person, an almost introverted guy off radio,” said John Long, who put Neckerson’s commentary on his Memphis station in 1979, a move that led to syndication. “The character and the real person couldn’t be more different. But he loved the attention  of being Red Neckerson.”

Kelly McCoy, a B98.5 radio jock who worked at WQXI from 1978 to 1984, said Corry “came across as a big old grump, but he was really a teddy bear underneath.”

Every year, on McCoy’s birthday, he’d gruffly say, “Don’t embarrass me,” and hand him a bonus check.

McKee, who worked with Corry when McKee’s show was No. 1 in the Atlanta market, said Corry had an instinctively quick wit. “But it was very difficult to make him laugh,” he said. He recalls doing bits with listeners trying to get Corry to chuckle. They seldom could. ”If he did laugh,” McKee said, “I’d cut the mike. I wanted him to win every time!”

After leaving WQXI in 1986, Corry moved to WYAY-FM, a country station at the time called Y106. He helped out morning host Rhubarb Jones, who said Corry by his very presence made his show better.

“If I needed five jokes for a speech, he’d write them out for me in five minutes,” said Jones, now a media teacher at Kennesaw State University. “There were times in our control room, you heard nothing but laughter because of him.”

Off air, Corry was a dedicated family man and loved his horses. He lived on a farm in Forsyth County. “He was an absolutely frustrated cowboy like me,” McKee said. “He’d breed Arabians and show them. He had the prettiest stallion I’ve ever seen.”

Red-NeckersonHerb Emory, traffic reporter at AM 750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB, was the last person to work with him on air with his weekly NASCAR talk show from 1997 to 2007.

“I have been able to take what he did and apply it to my own career,” Emory said. “He taught me to let loose every now and then and be myself.”

Corry released an autobiography last month called “Keep the Needle Peaking.”

Corry is survived by his wife Dixie, his sons Russ and Brian and his daughter Susan. Funeral arrangements are with Ingram Funeral Home in Cumming. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, said Long, who runs the operation.

Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this article.

20 comments Add your comment

John Long

September 15th, 2010
3:24 pm

We are heartbroken. Love to Garys’ family from the membership of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

bulldog bubba

September 15th, 2010
3:30 pm

A great person to laugh with when radio was entertaining.I still miss those days.My condolences to the family.

Jason Durden

September 15th, 2010
3:38 pm

My thoughts and best wishes go out to Dixie and the family in their time of grief. The broadcasting world has truly lost a legend. Red was a radio hero of mine and I am lucky to have gotten the chance to work with him on Cap’t Herb’s race show. RIP Gary…you will be missed.

94Q Fan

September 15th, 2010
3:39 pm

Being a teenager in Atlanta back in the 70’s and listening to Red on Gary McKee’s morning show was one of the things you can look back on with fondness and remember what it was like in the years before political correctness destroyed this countries sense of humor. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Dot & Jerry Blum

September 15th, 2010
4:43 pm

All Atlanta radio stations should offer a moment of silence this week in his memory. He was a true gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor.

Craig Ashwood

September 15th, 2010
5:02 pm

I worked with Gary starting in 1980 at 94Q…he was down the hall at WQXI. And, he scared the hell out of me at first. I was a 21 year old back then, and Gary was 42+ years old at the time and the acknowledged “mayor” of the station; he’d walk around the halls carrying a clipboard (because, in his words, “no one ever asks you questions if you’re walking with a clipboard”). He was grumpy at first to all and to newcomers especially,and, so, very intimidating as a result. Because we learned quickly his incredible resume plus daily heard his ability and talent. We just couldn’t measure up.

But, I figured him out, I think. He worked with my brother from another mother, JJ Jackson, on the “JJ and the Cowboy” show on WQXI, and it was laugh-out-loud stuff. And I’d listen, and be amazed at his wit and speed and brilliance. And I learned about what he’d done for other people in the industry–he was a mentor to SO MANY people in Georgia radio who literally owe their careers to him. And what I learned was that he was so much more complicated than I’d first thought–Gary was a BROADCASTER through-and-through; a total class act, devoted to his wife and family, someone who really cared about the people he worked with.

He was one of the most talented humorists ever, a great radio program director, a brilliant promotion-minded marketer, an instinctive evaluator of talent, someone who could inspire devotion and loyalty, and a singular great man. And whatever surface gruffness he may have had on the job disappeared completely in retirement, at least from my perspective: his numerous private notes to me on Facebook were affectionate, thoughtful, and supportive.

He painted. He wrote–his new book is available for sale; called “Keep The Needle Peaking”.
He held cookouts at his farm where old friends could get together. And today, there are many old (and new) friends who are extraordinarily saddened by his passing.

His singular greatest achievement, and I bet he’d agree, was his 50+ years marriage and great extended family. We should all have such a legacy.

J.J. Jackson

September 15th, 2010
7:50 pm

I feel like I got the wind knocked out of me. Like some cruel sucker punch. When Gary Corry became my boss, my friend and my partner-there was nothing like it. He showed me, He let me do what I do and we did things that defied the short signal that we were dealt.
We got away with more than we deserved…wait–
Maybe we did deserve it.

We dug deep holes we had to find ways out of.
TV networks stole from us.
We deliberately figured out ways to be rebelious.
Won’t be the same without him.
It will never be the same.

Kevin O'Connell

September 16th, 2010
2:04 am

Gary was the most talented sane person I’ve ever worked, in or out of radio. He was sane because he never let his tremendous talent go to his head. He was always, always humble and real. I had the great pleasure to enjoy his quick wit and learn from his practical philosophy during my five years at WQXI/94-Q (’75-80).

He had the cleverest promotional mind I’ve ever encountered. In his first stint at WQX (in the 60s?), he had no promotional budget and came up with the idea to give away clothespins. He made it sound like a huge deal by featuring all the things one could do with them.

I will always remember Gary with great fondness. May you rest in peace, Red.

Jeff McCartney

September 16th, 2010
9:39 am

Gary Lee Corry was one of the funniest people I have ever encountered in my 30 years in radio. In my 13 years at 94-Q I can never remember Gary having a bad day and not having a smile on his face although you would never know the real day to day Gary Corry by the sarcasm of his Red Neckerson character. As we all age it’s a daily challenge to stay tuned into Pop Culture and from seeing Gary, for the first time in years, last year at the 94-Q reunion it was obvious that he never lost his edge. I always envied his creativity and writing skills. He was one of a kind as a person and personality. He will be missed!

Tom Sullivan

September 16th, 2010
9:47 am

Gary Corry hired me at WQXI AM when I graduated High School. I’ll always remember the day I got the call from Gary telling me I got the job!! Gary said because I was winning all the radio station contests it was cheaper to hire me. The greatest radio stations in the country WQXI AM and WQXI FM. I am blessed to have worked with Gary to learn, laugh so hard I would cry and be a part of history. With the introduction of Facebook we could all enjoy Gary’s humor with funny posts or follow up comments poking fun at something. I remember this past April when I sat in his kitchen reliving the best days of radio in my life and will always treasure the man who gave me my start. Thank You Gary for enriching our world! Tom

David Carroll

September 16th, 2010
1:35 pm

Gary appeared on my Chattanooga morning radio show for several years, and in 1980, we ran him for president. He held press conferences and campaign rallies at local shopping malls, and I still see “Red Neckerson for President” bumper stickers to this day. He was a delight to work with, and I just recently reconnected with him on Facebook. He told me he was working on a book. I sure want to read it, because he had some great stories to tell. I’m glad I got to know him, and just thinking of him makes me smile. My condolences to his family, including Dixie…the lovely “Nectarine.”

Dan Blankowski

September 16th, 2010
4:31 pm

I feel privileged to have been part of Y-106’s Morning Zoo Crew with Rhubarb Jones, where Gary/Red did commentary and kept us in stitches all day. To hear the off-microphone (thank goodness) banter between Rhubarb and Red was truly a lesson in comedy and quick thinking! He was hysterical to the very end … trading barbs via Facebook on a daily basis with his radio friends. I wish everybody could have known him, and might buy his book to get a little insight! Thanks for the tribute, Rodney!

Karl Phillips

September 16th, 2010
4:37 pm

Gary was program director at WQXI in 1968 when I came on board as night recep and gofer working with Randy Robins tabulating the Top 7 at 9. He’d leave with an armfull of records and I’d ask where he was going and he’d say “to a hop”. Funny Funny guy and I will miss him.

Justine Albree

September 16th, 2010
8:11 pm

The old prickly pear with a cashmere heart…our friend Gary has left us.

Isn’t that the way we feel?
We’re all standing here with our mouths hanging open, our heart in one hand and our dreams and memories clutched in the other, and Gary has left the kitchen chair.

I swear it feels like we just ran to the corner grocery for a few quick things, but we suddenly find ourselves holding an armload of emotions and stories with no carry basket, buggy, or good friend in sight to share the load.

“Wow, didn’t expect leave us so quickly Gary.”

So what do we do with all this?
What do we do when we want to hear a funny story about the early good old Atlanta days when the town characters had nicknames like Birdman and Redneckerson, but there’s no one here to tell them to us?

“Oh, could you tell me just one more story Red.”

What do we do about the books, screenplays, short stories and radio spots we want to write, but were always so comforted and supported knowing Gary was already paragraphs ahead of us with his number 2 and legal pad?

“Man, what a talent you were.”

What do we do about wanting to escape the big city by taking a drive to country–Looking to just sit on the back porch in a rocker with an old friend watching his pretty horses run free, and his lovely Nectarine fluttering around like a happy momma bird…

“Look at that yeller horse run will ya?”

And what do we do about the missed handshakes, hugs if he let us, snide remarks followed by loud laughter– sincere thank you and goodbyes that never got said?

“You always kept the dream alive Gary. Thank you. I needed to see that.”

Well, I guess slowly we’ll all close our mouth and put our tender heart back in our chests. We’ll recommit ourselves to our craft as he did daily and soon…maybe one Georgia fall evening, we’ll all gather around a bon fire and drink a little apple cider and Muscadine wine, and begin telling his stories. You know we’ll laugh—cry laughing. And as we walk away, we’ll be thinking of how we can tell them better the next time… when we all see each other again. Ouch. Imagining a hug here. Prickly—soft.

“Help me with an ending here Red.”

“Nope.”

Debi Fowler-Kyle

September 16th, 2010
8:55 pm

It was an honor & privilege to have known this man! The world was a better place with him! Thank God Through the magic of the media his will never be that far away. I agree with everything that the others ahead of me has said about the dear man, yes Gary “Go Rest High On That Mountain” Gone, but never to be forgotten! Rest In Peace, my friend. Hey, tell Willis the Guard Hello for us in God’s big Radio Station!!

connors

September 17th, 2010
11:51 am

spittons in heaven? u bet. rip red.

Terri Fischer

September 17th, 2010
12:49 pm

I met Gary and Dixie about 30 years ago. We had great fun together. I was with them when we went to my first strip club, the old Cheetah. Now I own one, Strokers. Gary was one of the nicest people I have ever met. My prayers are with his family.

John Roach

September 18th, 2010
12:47 am

Gary was an amazing Radio personality, humorist, and writer. But the things he cared most about were his wife Dixie, their children and grandchildren. He once told me, ‘I’ve had lots of jobs in my life, but I’ve only got one family’. I learned many things about radio and comedy from ‘Red’, but that life lesson will stay with me forever.

Kelly McCoy

September 19th, 2010
10:01 am

Gary gave me the chance to work at every radio person’s dream…WQXI, “Quixie.” Some of the fondest memories of my career happened because of this great man. He was a mentor, “bee hind kicker” when you needed it, but most importantly a dear friend. Gary had a major influence on who I am today. At the ripe old age of 74 he was still the sharpest, most creative talents out there today. God just got a good addition to heaven.

BEVERLY DAVIS

September 19th, 2010
2:10 pm

Gary, I feel I know you a bit better, after reading such an array of tributes from your friends and co-workers. Mostly, I have known you through your precious wife Dixie, to her I am Moma Bev. Because of her, I have been one of your “e-folks” and that is where I will personally miss you. How I have enjoyed your very special e-mails, your conservative views which I shared, and especially your witty and common sense wisdom in occasional “replies”. I felt you allowed me to be a little part of your world and that is where I am already missing you. I can’t begin to imagin the empty place that is left for those so close to you, and I am keeping them in my prayers. To you, I was BEVinMOAB. Thanks for the e-mails and the memories.