A splendid evening of remembering, honoring, and celebrating some of Georgia’s finest voices in radio was recently held at the Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange. A distinguished crowd of radio icons gathered with family, friends and radio industry supporters for this significant event. A time of conversation; hors d’ oeuvres and delicious dinner was followed by a remarkable ceremony. Brief, noteworthy accounts, highlighting the accomplishments of the award winning broadcasting legends were retold with genuine admiration as new members were inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
Georgia Radio has a 98 year history that holds a mark of distinction. The Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 and dedicated to the preservation of Georgia radio. The organization annually recognizes the men and women who have excelled in their contributions to the success of radio broadcasting in Georgia. Without the diligence of these dedicated, award worthy individuals; radio would cease to exist.
The Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Inductions Awards event was made possible by The Bill Lowery Foundation; The Mc-Clure Family Foundation; The Herb Emory Charitable Trust; and anonymous generous members. Recognitions and awards include; The Career Achievement Award; The Founders and Directors Award; The Elmo Ellis Spirit Award; The Horizon Award; and The Legacy Inductee Award.
The 2019 Career Achievement Award Inductees; Mary Therese Griffin; Sabrina Gibbons Cupit; Ken Stanford; Dwight Douglas; Bear O’ Brian; Bob Coxe; Ron Parker; Sanders Hickey; Tim Johnson. Georgia Radio Hall of Fame members voted their choice of who should receive the coveted Career Achievement Awards. A total of 18 of Georgia’s best radio professionals were nominated for the award, and 9 were selected to receive the award for 2019. Inductees for the 2019 Career Achievement Awards were announced by members of the 2018 class of inductees.
The Founders and Directors Honoree Award was created in 2008 to recognize broadcasters who have excelled, but may not have received the recognition they deserve. Dr. Gene Henssler, famous host of “Money Talks” on WGKA Atlanta was honored as the 2019 Founders and Directors Honoree. Eric Seidel, 2018 Career Achievement Inductee presented the award. In his acceptance remarks, Dr. Henssler stated; “Radio has been an important part of my life, both professionally and personally.” Henssler was 7 years old when he made his radio debut during a children’s play. He still maintains a presence as host of “Money Talks”.
The Elmo Ellis Spirit Award was created by the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame to recognize Georgia radio professionals who exemplify Elmo Ellis’ example of creativity, unique leadership, and dedication to Georgia Radio. Bob Ketchersid was honored with the 2019 award. Mr. Ellis’ daughter, Janet Beerman presented the award to Ketchersid. Beerman stated; “It is my pleasure to present the Elmo Ellis Spirit Award to a man of faith and integrity; a man who honors radio’s responsibility to the listening pubic”. Ketchersid spoke about working for Elmo Ellis and appreciating the integrity and moral character exemplified by him. “Elmo Ellis was very fair; very kind; and a task master”. “It was a real blessing to be able to work for him”; stated Ketchersid.
The Legacy Inductee Awards are given in honor of radio broadcasters who are no longer living, but remain in the thoughts and hearts of those who knew them. The awards are accepted by family members or colleagues who worked with the broadcaster. Bob Harrison, former Georgia Radio Hall of Fame board member, and 2018 Career achievement Inductee, presented the honors for the 2019 Legacy Inductees. Those recognized as Legacy Inductees for 2019 were, Sean Demery; Bill Duncan; Steve Ferguson; Gary Guntor; Burke Johnson; Bert Parks; Ben Parsons; Ray Relihan; Fred “Doc” Suttles; and Mike Ventura.
Local to LaGrange was, the late Ray Relihan, former chief engineer at WTRP. He was known as the Troup County weatherman for 25 years. His daughter Nancy accepted the certificate and medallion award in his name. She stated; “Whether you knew my dad as the “Park Avenue Hillbilly”; or by his early morning radio show at WTRP; whether you called him Ray, Rayfield, or Mr. Ray, he was always the same amazing person.” Nancy recalled her dad building the first TV set that the family owned.
The 2019 Georgia Hall of Fame Awards Program was produced by John Long. Others who helped make the event possible; Patti Long; Amber Richey; John Wetherbee; Ali Queen; Meridith Long Scherer; Dee Hill; Bob Raleigh; Ray Bernal; Jeff Winter; and Eleanor Long. Also: President of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Bob Houghton; Georgia Association of Broadcasters Board member, Sanders Hickey; Georgia State University Popular Music and Cultural Archivist, Kevin Flemming; Lagrange City Councilman, Dr. Tom Gore.
Information about the amazing history of radio broadcasting in Georgia is available on the Georgia State University Library Exhibits page at exhibits.library.gsu.edu. A link to the page can be found at grhof.com. The Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame is located at 716 Lincoln Street, LaGrange.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.
Tammy Greathouse Staff Writer