Some of the Volunteer State's best known names in radio were inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro, TN Saturday, May 4th.
This was the second class of Tennessee broadcasters who were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and a repeat opportunity for Murfreesboro to host the gala. The non-profit group is dedicated to recognizing those who are legends in radio and whose careers are in Tennessee' radio .
George Klein was one of seven who was inducted in the Career category, which honors those still living and in many cases, still working in broadcasting.
George Klein: Klein has a 50-year radio and tV career in Memphis, starting with WHHM’s high school football broadcasts and baseball broadcasts for the Memphis Chicks at WHBQ. He worked at KWAM and WMC, and was a close friend of Elvis Presley. He toured with Elvis before returning to WHBQ to host Channel 13’s Talent Party, which ran for 12 years. He later hosted Memphis Sounds for WYPL. He now has a show on the Elvis Channel on Sirius/XM. And you talk about an Elvis connection, George and Presley became friends in the eighth grade.
The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame also inducted nine persons in the Legacy category. These people have passed away, but are being recognized for the contributions they made to the industry during their careers. Dewey Phillips, was among those people inducted.
Dewey Phillips: “Daddy-O Dewey” began his career on WHBQ in Memphis in 1949, and was the area’s leading radio personality for nine years with his Red, Hot and Blue Show, a mix of R & B, country boogie-woogie and jazz. The Broadway musical, Memphis, is said to be based loosely on his life and career. On July 8, 1954, Phillips was the first DJ to play “That’s All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky,” the debut Sun Records release by a young artist named Elvis Presley.
This year’s Legendary Station honor goes to WDIA, Memphis. WDIA was the first radio station in America that was programmed by African-Americans for African Americans. It empowered a huge segment of the population that was, until the late 1940s, largely unrecognized. Its achievement was all the more extraordinary because it occurred during a time of institutionalized racism. WDIA began broadcasting with 250 watts at 730 on the AM dial; yet soon became the top station in the city. In 1954, the station received a power increase to 50,000 watts at 1070 on the dial. Suddenly, it had the power to reach 10% of the total African-American population in the country. Its impact was enormous, and radio stations from other cities sent staff to Memphis to study how WDIA worked, in order to establish African-American stations in their own cities.
photos: Cathy Martindale, and Melisa McDonald