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The Sunday Session - Rick Shultz

My dad started up WHEE back in 1954 when AM radio was more or less in it's heyday. When I left college, I went to work at the station as an announcer and was on the air from around 1962 to 1968 until I left to take over the origination Channel 6 for Martinsville Cablevision.

I had worked part-time for a couple of radio stations in Winston-Salem and was most impressed with WTOB which was the number one Top-40 station in Winston-Salem. The station had the latest equipment, top-notch DJ's, a fantastic programming tempo, and simply amazed me with how beautifully it was run.

When I got back to Martinsville, I developed my own radio show on Sunday afternoons called The Sunday Session. I took everything I had learned at WTOB to work to develop the greatest sounding show humanly possible. Well, the program became quite popular, and we had thousands of listeners, mostly teenagers, to the show every Sunday afternoon. I had a couple of fans who even offered to answer the phone during the show to take "requests" from listeners. Then, they would run these "requests" in to me scribbled on paper and I would read the names while cueing up the 45 record to play later on in the afternoon.

A young listener named Barry Michaels was living with his parents and growing up in Figsboro back then, and he loved listening to the show. He even recorded some parts of it on his 8-transistor Toshiba reel to reel recorder and sent me copies of his tapes back in the 1980's. Barry was so enamored with the show that he went into the radio business himself and became an announcer on over a dozen stations around the country. Now, he's getting ready to retire in Florida after being on the air for almost 50 years. My close friend, Hank Hedgecock (MHS, Class of 1968) also worked with me at the station. Hank also went into radio as a career, mostly because of my influence. Another listener, Reggie Blackwell, Class of 1970, did the same thing. Reggie caught up with me in Orlando and had him and his wife over one night. All three of these guys told me at one time or another that I was their inspiration for getting into the radio business, and I am truly honored to have been such a major influence in their careers.

Barry suggested to me several years ago that I should take some of my old tapes and put them on something to save them for posterity. So, I went through all my old CD's and MP3's and was able to get some really good final copies of three of my old shows. I cut out most of the musical sections that would pose copyright problems, but left in the commercials and news broadcasts (at least in the December 1965 show), plus the dedications ... the names of listeners who called in requests. I uploaded all three shows to YouTube.

So, I was thinking ... the majority of my listeners to the show would have been 13-15 years old in 1965 when the two best shows were on the air, in June and December, 1965. If I stretch those ages a little to 12-16, and then calculate what year Mavahi classes they would have graduated in, I think I'm right in calculating that these listeners would have been in the graduating classes of 1967 to 1971.

I'm pretty sure a lot of these kids would have listened to my show. And, nearly all of them would have been dating somebody, and a good number of them would probably have called in requests to dedicate a tune to their sweetheart. Wouldn't it be interesting if they could hear those shows again and listen for their names being read on the radio now, after some 54 years? Their kids and grandkids might get a kick out of it too.

The commercials also might be interesting. Hearing Lewis Compton talk about The Bargain Center on Fayette Street, Globman's and Leggett's downtown, Nathan's of Bassett, Mitchell-Howell Ford, with the names of some of the salesmen. I even do a Wampler's commercial for Hot Wheels!

And of course there are three on-the-hour newscasts that I ripped through as fast as humanly possible ... but hearing the names of Lyndon Johnson as president, the Viet Nam war going on in full swing, the Berlin Wall was still up, and I mispronounced a lot of stuff that I regret now, but still it's fun to listen to a broadcast from half a century ago.

I really find it hard to believe we're talking about people listening to the show who would now be 66 to 70 years old! But, back then, they were my loyal fans, between 12 and 16 years old, and dating somebody possibly for the first time, and listening to their favorite tunes on my radio show on WHEE!

Rick Shultz
Santiago, Panama