I would like to take this opportunity to extend a cordial invitation to the newest exhibit at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center. "Radio Days" covers the first 70 years of WFTM Radio, which went on the air January 1, 1948.
That's right. We went on the air 70 years ago Monday. In preparing for the exhibit I've gone through a lot of material I think you might enjoy. It's amazing how many familiar names have taken the microphone since James M. Finch Jr. and Charles P. Clarke started broadcasting. As Mr. Finch described it, a party was going on in the East End at the time and the group just moved their festivities to the station. Ellen Walton was first on the air at 12:00am, singing "Ave Maria." The first record played was Hank Thompson's "Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette." Appropriate, since WFTM stands for "World's Finest Tobacco Market."
The Ledger has always been wonderful about chronicling WFTM's life, which makes it the perfect companion to our own audio archives. Take these news items for example:
"At 9:30 Saturday morning, WFTM's Dorothy Wood will present on her 'Homemakers Harmonies' show Maysville’s own Betty Clooney. She's Hollywood-bound and scheduled to record two guest appearances on Bing and Gary Crosby's CBS radio show."
"’An enlightening program for enlightened listeners’ has started on Radio Station WFTM. It features four local college students, namely, Johnny McNeill, Bill Kenton, John Collins and Miss 'Bobbie' Finch."
"Mrs. Earl C. Johnson, of West Third street, won a jackpot of eight prizes when she correctly answered the mystery question on the "Texas Serenade" radio show on WFTM last night."
"On the basis of its 'True to the Farm' program, Maysville's WFTM was one of 19 radio stations across the nation to be awarded a Public Interest Citation scroll by the National Farm Safety Council."
"Praise to radio station WFTM for its 'high ethical standards of broadcasting campaign' came yesterday from Governor Lawrence Wetherby to J.W. Betts, general manager of the station."
"Coach Earle D. Jones, heard in a nightly sports program over WFTM, will broadcast tonight from the New Central Hotel where he and his Bulldogs will be the honored guests at the Maysville High School Pep Club's annual post-season basketball banquet."
Charles Dee “Bud Boyd, the “Mayor of Gobbler’s Knob,” always described WFTM as the prefect training ground for broadcasters. Cases in point:
"Radio station WFTM is losing its popular program director, Don S. Hiles, assistant engineer there. Mr. Hiles is leaving the station Monday morning and on Tuesday will join WLW-T, Channel 5."
"Wayne Bell, former Maysville radio announcer, yesterday began Cincinnati's newest disc jockey show, billed as "Wayne the Bell Boy."
"Frank L. Taylor, a former announcer with WFTM has now accepted a position with KYT-TV in Lexington, as a newscaster and announcer."
Nick Clooney got his start at WFTM: "I was in high school, a fledgling announcer earning 50 cents an hour and undoubtedly overpaid at that,” Clooney said. “It didn't occur to me that I was given the Sunday morning shift because no one else would take it. No sir. Opening a station and being completely responsible for it from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. was heady stuff to a teen-ager; at least it was to this one."
In its infancy, WFTM broadcast programs such as "Hillbilly Hit Parade," "Breakfast Buckboard" and "Maysville Minute Man."
Do you remember the "Welcome to Maysville" and "Thanks...Hurry back to Maysville" signs that greeted visitors are they entered the city? That was a WFTM project for the station’s 10-year anniversary.
Remember the musical jingle that introduced the WFTM forecast? “What does the Weatherman say today? Will it be warm with skies of gray? Will it be hot or cold or fair? Oh, what does the weatherman say?"
Many of our city’s leaders have been on the air as part of the annual Maysville Lion’s Club Radio Auction. As I was going through the archives, a photo of William Calvert, Earle D. Jones, Dr. Robert Blake and CE McEuen Jr. auctioneering stuck out.
Catchphrases of certain announcers bring back fond memories. Bud Boyd, at the same time every morning, sending a song out to his bride, saying "And this one goes out to my wife." Bill Stewart beginning his program with, "Welcome to the 10,000th consecutive program of True to the Farm." Doc Shires reminding us we are "the land of the free because of the brave."
I’ve always said I have the privilege of recording our community’s history daily. I hope you share that enthusiasm as you visit our exhibit at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center.