The fourth annual 2010 Georgia Radio Hall of Fame dinner over the weekend featured a Fox 97 reunion and induction of several radio names from the past. Among the winners: former WGST morning man Tom Hughes, former WQXI-AM/Fox 97 jock J.J. Jackson and Kirk Mellish, the weather guy for AM 750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.
“With my skill set, I don’t know what I would have done without radio,” said Hughes, who was last on the radio in late 2006. “Now I have found out: I would have done nothing!”
The witty Hughes also noted that WGST’s newsroom, once 35 employees, is now down to four. “Or as Clear Channel calls it,” he cracked, “the homestretch.”:
More seriously, he noted, “before syndication and before voicetracking and corporatization, we made some good, important radio. It’s an honor to be here.”
Mellish, referencing the line, “When the weather is hellish, tune into Mellish,” joked that he’s glad his last name wasn’t Smitty. And he noted with bemusement that TV stations have copied the idea, which wasn’t his concept. “The Wizometer? [WXIA-TV's recent innovation] It sounds like a urine test! Tomorrow’s forecast and find out if you’re pregnant!”
The other recipients included Bill Anderson, a country singer and songwriter best known for his song “Still” who started his career in radio in Athens and Commerce at WJJC-AM. “Radio has always been very special to me,” he said, noting that as a child, he would pretend to be on the radio using a chicken drumstick or a hairbrush.
Clarke Brown worked for 38 years at Jefferson Pilot and its predecessors, including WQXI-AM/FM and Star 94 until 2005.
Eddie Esserman was general manager of Fox 97 in its heyday and has owned different Georgia radio stations. He is also a radio broker. Sam Hale worked for a few years at WQXI-AM in the 1960s and is a co-founder of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
Phil Schaefer joined WSB-AM in 1963 and eventually became a sports reporter. He was also color man for Larry Munson on the UGA Football Network for 16 years.
There was also a Fox 97 reunion, which included not only winners Jackson and Esserman but Spiff Carner and Randy Cook, now at 106.7/True Oldies.
The dinner also included a frightening moment. The Hall of Fame had belatedly found the son of 2007 Legacy recipient Pat Hughes (no relation to Tom), who died in 1968. The son was on the dais discussion his dad when he had a seizure and fell to the floor with a thump. Fortunately, he recovered consciousness and EMTs arrived within a few minutes to treat him.
Anybody can join become a lifetime member of the Hall of Fame for a $25 fee. It’s been around since 2007. The voting is done by members so although this is supposed to be a statewide operation, people with Atlanta ties tend to predominate. The diversity of the classes has also been limited as organizers have struggled to get African Americans actively involved in the group.