WTMA 1969-1979
This page was last updated Monday, August 19, 2013

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Some time back our good friend (and former WTMA DJ/production director) John Burwell gave us an incredible CD of WTMA airchecks and production from the years 1969-1979 -- which we've turned into downloadable MP3 files. John's comments on the disc follows:

This tape was originally put together for a New Years Eve staff party on December 31, 1979. It was collected from bits and pieces of airchecks lying around the program director's office. Some of the quality is horrendous on a few of the segments, due to the rather primitive machines we often used to tape the airchecks.

It was the last big party we ever had. It was at my house -- the last good party we had before Sconnix killed us. I played it on my Sony reel-to-reel after everybody got looser. No one had heard the airchecks or even knew they still existed. I had found all except the '79 ones in the back of the PD's closet - I didn't tell anyone I was putting it together.

Who else but disc jockeys would sit around at a New Years Eve party and listen to airchecks!! And actually enjoy it!!

(Another interesting note - During the month of December, 1979, our top of the hour ID was said this way: "Good morning (afternoon), I'm ___ ___ and this is WTMA, Charleston - the radio station of the 80's, here now.")

Now, lets thread up the reel and punch "play"!

1. Introduction - made by PD John Trenton as a sales pitch to Eastman Radio, a national sales rep. My favorite line is when he speaks of five resident newsmen and one full-time news specialist. The "five resident newsmen" were actually the jocks! [Download] (4:16 - 1502 KB)

2. Booby Nash, January 1969. As we did often in those days, this half-hour was recorded on tape supplied by the navy. They would get us to record whole days of shows, and then they would play them on Charleston-based ships while the ships were out to sea, as a little reminder of home. [Download] (3:52 - 1362 KB)

3. John Trenton - Sexist and slightly risqué - typical of "Almost Honest John Trenton" as he was known at the time. John was Program Director when he was taken off the air in 1972 and made General Manager -- an unheard of move. Ray Campbell was the "news specialist" at this time and he appears on this cut. [Download] (1:59 - 699 KB)

4. Big Boob substituting for John Trenton. Booby, by this time was doing afternoon drive instead of  7-midnight, where he made his name. As it is with all great jokes, one is repeated here. At the end of this cut we see that WTMA-FM no longer existed. [Download] (1:50 - 655 KB)

5. Frank O. Hunt - Hired when WTMA really got serious about news. Frank was News Director and actually had a staff -- an afternoon newsman (John Bry) and quite a few interns and part-timers. One of the interns was a local boy named Bill Sharpe, who later went on to Channel 5. Frank later went to television himself and became the greatest reporter in Charleston television. According to what I was told, Frank was "Frank O. Hunt" because "Frank Hunt" has a bad sound if you say it too quickly. [Download] (:27 - 160 KB)

6. Billy Smith - Typical of the early 70's sound of TMA -- screaming and LOTS and LOTS of reverb. Billy is still in radio in Myrtle Beach. [Download] (1:09 - 408 KB)

7. Keith Nichols - Close your eyes and you'll think you're hearing Billy Smith. Keith later went began dabbling with weekend weather forecasts, and by 1976 left to go out to Oklahoma as a full-time TV weatherman. Keith provided the pipes for all our voice-overs from '74 to '76. [Download] (2:23 - 840 KB)

8. Steve Russell - a native of Bamberg, SC, Steve went to work for WTMA straight out of high school.  He worked in Charleston radio including (WCSC-AM, WXTC-FM, and WSUY) until the early 2000's. [Download] (:34 - 201 KB)

9. John Burwell - Like Billy Smith and Keith Nichols, very typical of the TMA sound in the early 70's. Jocks were intended to entertain, not just play records. [Download] (1:33 - 550 KB)

10. Lee Richards - a cut of Lee after WTMA "reformatted" to a more "time and temperature" mode. If this cut sounds boring, it's because it was back then. Amazingly, WTMA continued to pull in #1 ratings. Of interest on this cut is the restrictions that were put on callers for the contest. We had blown out so many phone exchanges with our contests that Southern Bell threatened to take away our phone service. They were serious, so for a while we restricted our callers to certain letters of the alphabet. [Download] (1:19 - 466 KB)

11. Gery London - replaced Booby Nash as afternoon drive, after Booby had it with time and temperature and left to work at WKTM. Gery's real name is Christopher Pinckney, and he grew up in Walterboro. [Download] (:52 - 307 KB)

12. Hi-Lo Cash Game - typical of our on-air contests during that time. Keith Nichols provided the voice. [Download] (:49 - 293 KB)

13. Actual on-air profanity - We didn't use a tape delay. The idea of the contest was to guess the name of a song. The "computer" -- the Mighty TMA Music Machine -- would reveal more words each time we didn't get a winner. There were three carts involved in the contest: 1) the main cart with the song words,
2) a "Does not compute" cart for incorrect guesses, and 3) a "Correct! -You are a winner!" cart. Don't ask me how I did it, but in spite of what happened, I was still able to punch the "Does Not Compute" cart, and go on with the show like nothing happened. By the way, there is no "Green Street" in Mt. Pleasant. [Download] (:34 - 203 KB)

14. Crazy Bob McLain - a return to better days for TMA, complete with WABC's Music Radio jingle package. Life was really good for a year in 1977. [Download] (1:57 - 691 KB)

15. Tim St. George - a true genius who did all his own voices. He'd spend a hour or so in the production studio before each show, recording voice bits for the evening. He also left shortly after Bob McLain left. [Download] (2:27 - 865 KB)

16. Magic Mark - 1979 [Download] (:16 - 45 KB)

17. Ted Bell - 1979 [Download] (:11 - 65 KB)

18. Jack Lundy - 1979 [Download] (:07 - 42 KB)

19. John Burwell and Rick Tracy - 1979 - I was put back on the air for a couple of months in '79, working from 1:00 to 3:00, because Bob McLain (in his last few months) decided cut his shift back to three hours (6:00 to 9:00 only.) Jack Lundy took it from 9:00 to 1, and I went from 1 to 3.  [Download] (:31 - 187 KB)

20. Dan Stevens - 1979 [Download] (:12 - 72 KB)

21. Booby Nash, who was rehired as PD in 1979. As you can hear, his comedic wit in '79 was just as good as it was in '69. He went from 6-10 and I got off the air again! [Download] (1:05 - 382 KB)

22. "WTMA - always striving to be better!" - That is the way that it was. [Download] (:52 - 308 KB)

Thanks to John Burwell for sharing this incredible piece of Charleston radio history!


Are you a former WTMA employee or listener with a story to share?
We'd love to hear from you! E-mail John Quincy.

 

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