Thursday, April 7, 2011


Cleveland had Dorothy Fuldheim. Cincinatti had Ruth Lyons. Columbus had Sally Flowers, Fern Sharp and Nita Hutch. All women who made their mark in programming. From the serious to the fluff, these women pioneers held forth in a medium dominated by men.

Delaware had one of these women too. Kris Keltner. Kris came to the WDLR airwaves late in 1969 or early in 1970. And although her on air career didn't last as long as the above named women, she had in 5 or 6 years developed a loyal and devoted audience.

Kris interviewed the Governor, the Attorney General, local politicians and ministers. She'd read poetry, recipes, scripture, birthdays and anniversaries.

Anniversays to folks like Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Riteous. Kris had a foil in the station engineer "Uncle Paul" Heinline. Paul loved to prank Kris on her show and more often than not the prank came off without Kris figuring it off. Off course Kris always had the last laugh. She referred to Paul as UPI for Uncle Paul Incorporated because he was a big man both in voice and size.

Kris was born Velda White. She had a twin sister Velma. The sisters sang and were featured on the old WAIU in the early mid 20's. She also was known for her singing around the county.

Kris married Wallace "Pappy" Keltner. He and his family made church and lodge furniture. For many years, Kris traveled the country representing the company and appearing on the radio. When they sold the company, they moved to town and Kris began her daily radio career.

Things changed in 1974. New owners came to town and Kris didn't fit their idea of what their were envisioning for the station. So she packed her show up and and appeared for about a year on WRFD on Sunday mornings beginning the last Sunday of September, 1974.

The sad part is Kris passed away a few years later lost and forgotten. Pappy passed away a few months before she did and she spent her last days at Sunny Vee.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

Eric Johnson joined the WBNS staff in April of 1966. He had spent the previous two years in Erie, Pa honing his skills. Newspaper accounts noted he wanted to earn his own stripes as a radio announcer.

Eric had a unique lineage. His father was the famous WBNS Early Worm, Irwin Johnson.

Eric joined the station hosting some of WBNS's evening programs. When Dean Lewis left for New York City in July of 1966, Eric was named as Dean's replacement in afternoon drive.

The promotion lasted just a short time. By November, Eric was off to the military.

I've not been able to find what became of Eric after he left to serve with Uncle Sam. When his father passed away at the end of May, 1970, the obituary listed Eric and his wife living in Savannah, Georgia. His occupation was not listed.

When his sister passed away just a few years ago, it noted that she was preceeded in death by her father, her mother, her step mother and brother Eric. It didn't note the year he passed away.

UPDATE 10-17-2012  **It appears Eric left the military in 1969. He later lived in Savannah, Georgia and from various web sources possibly Phoenix, AZ.  If correct, Eric passed away in the fall of 1993 while living in Phoenix.  

Johnny Dollar

Jim Pidcock who went under the air name Johnny Dollar in 1962 as a jock at WVKO.

Dollar left WVKO when it dropped it's top 50 format to adapt a black format in March, 1963. It was rumored he was going to Florida with Dave Hull, but it appears he headed north. By November of '63 he was back in Columbus and was upon to do mornings at WTVN replacing Tom George who had been let go in October. 

Pidcock would continue to host the morning show at the station until the summer of 1965.  At that time, he was promoted to program director, a post he held until 1968 when he went in sales and sales management.  In 1975, he was promoted to manage WTVN a position he held for about a decade.  Jim also managed WBBY in suburban Columbus as well as WDAE in Tampa and for a time managed in the Saga Communications group. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pluggin the Gaps in Columbus Radio History.

I continue to research and dig out information about Columbus and it's radio history. The personalities and formats of stations like WTVN, WBNS, WRFD, WCOL, WMNI and WVKO.

I've blogged about some of my findings or personal memories. But I have tons of information where I haven't had the time or the creative juices to memorialize. I've got plans for to make this a long term project (and I've already devoted many hours over the past three or four years).

It's been odd. I've found tons of information. But there are times when I hit an information hole. A piece of the puzzle is missing. Some key event, change, movement, format change, call letter change, person coming or person going wasn't reported.

It appears that some stations sought publicity or gave out information more than others. Jo Bradley Reed of the Citizen Journal once replied to a reader in her column that she often relies on the stations to get information in her hands so she can report it. I believe it had to do with reporting the programs in stereo that could be listened to. Stereo radio broadcasting was a novel concept at the time as the broadcast of stereo programming was approved by the FCC in the early 60's. FM stations in Columbus with the exception of WBNS were slow to move to stereo and then for a long period of time only broadcast a few hours a day in the beginning. But that's a different topic.

In some instances, I wonder if formats didn't appeal to the radio/television reporters of the time and they didn't report what they didn't listen to. Maybe a bigger story pre-empted the planned story of the day. As television became more of a focal point, radio seemed to get shunted aside too. But in general, there's a lot of information.

I've been fortunate in that I've been able to find some of the people of those times and the gap was filled from their memories and perspectives. Bill Smith now working in Boston, Keith Curtis who now is in Florida, Bob Cosart (Vernon with a V who worked for a brief time at WTVN-FM)and retired. Pete Gabriel now in Youngstown and retired. Bob North of WNCI and WTVN who now is a busy voice talent. These and other people have been great with their stories and background.

There have been many more. All have given I've found others who knew the person or event in question and they have quickly filled in the back story.

But there are two situations that allow the information hole to continue.

One is that the people associated with the missing information have passed on. People whose memories seem like they were here yesterday, yet have been gone from us for many years.

For example, I have traced former WTVN morning personality Maurice Jackson to Oklahoma City and Phoenix only to have the trail go cold in the mid 1960's. Can't find anyone who knew him or what became of his career.

Another is Tom George who hosted at several central Ohio station in his career. Tom had worked at Wheeling's WWVA and Detroit's WJBK prior to coming to Columbus. And I don't want to forget a stint in New York City.

But his arrival in Columbus came at a time when personalities at the station he landed at (WTVN) was promoting programs and not people. So when and why did he arrive. Was he the immediate replacement for Dave Hull or did someone fill the gap? Where did he go after leaving WTVN in 63 or 64 but before arriving at WMNI to usher in their Country format in the fall of 1965. Or did he simply move to WMNI when he left WTVN? The CJ says he spent some time at WHOK in Lancaster. The Dispatch indicated he was WMNI all along playing beautiful music shortly after departing WTVN.

And then there is another gap regarding Tom. He was gone for a period of time during the late 60's at WMNI but was part of the WRFD move to country music in 1970. And then again he was gone. I found in the mid-late 70's he worked for WDLR's Marysville outreach. And the finally landed at WUCO when it went on the air in the early 80's. And that's where Tom finished his career.But again, a gap between WDLR and WUCO. Unfortunately, many who may have known of Tom are no longer with us and so history is left with a gap. Or as I call it, an information hole

Finally, there is another reason. I've found others who for whatever reason do not want to contribute. Can't explain why. They simply don't respond or won't share some of the information. Sometimes they are someone who was or still is a key player in the market. But for whatever reason(s), there is a lack of reply and interest.