John tells us about his career in
Central Florida Radio.
"...I graduated from FSU in April, 1965 and landed a job at WLCO(-AM
1240) in July as an announcer working 5pm to midnight for $75 a week. After a few weeks the program manager, George Tanner, left the station and the owner, Carroll Barringer, gave me his job. (Note that "Carroll" was a man.) I remained with
the station until November, 1966, when I took a position with a TV station (WJKS-17/ABC) in Jacksonville..." "The original owner, who put the station on the air some years before I got there, was a local man named Bill Hess. He had sold out to old Mr. Barringer only months before I was hired. Bill was still around--I guess he had retired, because he seemed of that age to this 23 year-old--and on at least one occasion, he did play-by-play announcing for us during a high school football game.
--Other employees while I worked there included Mr. Barringer's son, Dave, who was the engineer; secretary Peggy Beasley; and salesman Dave Ward. Mr. Barringer's wife,
Artemisa, also helped out in the office on occasion. The announce staff included at one time or another, in addition to Dave Barringer, Dave Ward and myself, also John Wilson and
Ralph Ricks. While I was there Mr. Barringer hired Harold McWhorter, a former radio station owner and program syndicator from WV who lived nearby in retirement (I think). Harold had had a 15-minute motivational series called "So You're Here Today."
--I lost track of the station after I got into TV and never heard from my colleagues again. I do not know when the Barringers sold out, but it may have been related to Mr. Barringer's death; he was quite old when I worked there, having retired from the fuel oil business in North Carolina at the time he bought the station in 1965.
--When I worked at WLCO-pronounced "Radio Wilco!"-we ran 1,000 watts daytime and 250 watts night but signed off at midnight. We had no network affiliation. The tower was down in a deep depression amidst thick trees behind the station; at night we could barely be heard beyond the city limits. The station was housed then in a prefab structure called a "Jim Walter Home."
I was there only a brief time but had a lot of fun with that cast of characters. Our signal didn't go far, we didn't make much money (if any), and the station would have gone off the air from all of Dave Barringer's wires with alligator clips coming undone if you stomped your foot, but it was as good a ride as being in the
"WKRP in Cincinnati" TV program."
John was at WJKS-TV 1966-70, grad school at the University of Florida 1970-72, research director and program manager at
WTLV-12-NBC/Jacksonville 1972-76, project manager with Arbitronís research department in Maryland 1976-80, and since then in the research department at
PBS in Alexandria, VA, which he has managed since 1985.