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Georgia Radio Hall of Fame: 2012

This guide documents the inductees and award winners of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

Legacy Inductees

Leonard Milton George

In 1922, Leonard Milton George was born in Preston, where he became interested in radio.  As a teenager he took a weekend job at KVNU in Logan, UT. Upon being drafted, he was assigned to Armed Forces Radio where he met Jim Woodruff, Jr. whose father owned radio stations in Georgia. In 1946, George returned to Idaho to join his wife and go to law school. Those plans were interrupted by Jim Woodruff offering Milt station manager at WGPC in Albany. George became a part owner with Jim Woodruff and Joe Gamble. Milt eventually bought out Gamble and upon Jim Woodruff’s death, became sole owner of WGPC AM-FM.

Robert L. "Bob" Hunnicutt, Jr.

Bob Hunnicutt was born in Cherokee Oklahoma, the son of a Methodist minister. As the family moved throughout western Oklahoma, Bob worked odd jobs in and out of broadcasting as an intern and on the air in different towns in the state. After the Korean War Bob was stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta. In addition to getting married and starting a family, he got a job as an announcer at WRDW. James Brown bought the station in 1968 and Hunnicutt became chief engineer for Brown’s stations. In 1975, Hunnicutt built an FM station and put a gospel format on the air. 1983, he purchased WKZK in Augusta, and operated both stations until his death.

John Lane

John Lane was born near Valdosta. He graduated from Valdosta High in 1938 and left for Savannah. He got as far as Brunswick and fell in love with the Golden Isles. He worked at an insurance company and then in 1942, enlisted in the Army Air Corp. Upon his return, he got married and in 1949 was offered a job at a new radio station, WGIG. John’s program “News around Town” became immensely popular. John remained at WGIG as news director until 1967.  An opportunity for part ownership in WMOG came in 1967. Lane did “News around Town for 42 years retiring in 1991. The Atlanta Journal once aptly called John, “The Lord of Brunswick Radio.”

Don McDougald

Born February 25, 1927, Don attended elementary and high school in Statesboro, before entering Clemson College and later Emory University in Atlanta. After service in World War II, McDougald returned to Emory and completed his education with graduation from the Emory University School of Business. In 1958 he, his mother and brothers, purchased WWNS in Statesboro. He eventually bought out the family members and added an FM. He later owned stations in Milledgeville and Sylvania, as well as a station in Virginia. Don was named to the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Don serves on the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Advisory Council.

Jim Popwell, Sr.
Jim Popwell, Sr. was born in Clanton, Alabama on June 23, 1932.  After hearing a commercial for a drug store, young Jim quipped "he could better!" He went to see Paul Reid at the radio station. Reid hired Jim. After high school, Jim enrolled at the University of Alabama and stayed at WKLF.  In the summer of 1952, Paul Reid, his old mentor, called Jim and asked him to become program director of a new AM in Hawkinsville. Jim eventually bought WCEH. He then bought stations in Cordele, Statesboro and Millen. He built a new station in Cuthbert. Big Jim was one of a kind and despite his growl, had a heart as big as Georgia.

Bob Saggese

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Saggese met and married a Macon Georgia lady while stationed at Camp Wheeler in Macon. After returning from the war, he enrolled at Mercer and went to work at WMAZ Radio. In 1953 he became program director at WRPB in Warner Robins. In 1955 he went to work as Macon’s first rock and roll DJ and acquired the nickname, The Mouth of the South. Sagesse was at WBML for more than 16 years. He was also on the air and sales manager at WKOG in Gordon.  After working as morning man with WDEN in Macon, he fulfilled his lifelong wish of completing the college education.

Don Sports, Sr.

Don Sports, Sr. was born in Douglas and attended South Georgia College. He began his radio career in Port St Joe Florida. In 1958 he moved to Baxley’s WHAB then in 1959 to WCLA in Claxton as an announcer and salesman. In 1961 he was promoted to General Manager. In 1972, Sports purchased the station from Howard Gilreath. Sports built WCLA FM in 1972.  The Georgia Association of Broadcasters elected him president in 1977 and he served on their board of directors for seven years. In 1985, he was named GAB Broadcast Citizen of the Year. Sports sold the stations in in 1997.

Jim Steele

Jim was originally from Mississippi.  After working at WOKK AM in Meridian, he attended college, graduating from the University of Denver in 1970 with a Master’s degree in Mass Communications. From 1974 until 1982 he was the editor of the NAB Code Authority in New York. Jim was regional sales manager for the NAB in Washington from 1982 until 1985 and an ad manager at Bozell Jacobs in New York until 1988. In 1989 he moved to Georgia and bought WKBX FM in Kingsland. Jim was chairman of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters in 2000 and he also served on the board of Directors of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame and served as treasurer.

Lowry "Uncle Ned" Stripling

Lowry Eugene “Uncle Ned” Stripling formed his first band while he was a student at Lanier High School in Macon. In August 1937 Stripling moved to Atlanta, and Uncle Ned and his Texas Wranglers became a part of the Cross Roads Follies on WSB radio. After the Cross Roads Follies in 1940, Stripling moved back to Macon to WMAZ radio. Uncle Ned and the Hayloft Jamboree performed daily on WMAZ radio for more than 18 years. In the mid 1950’s, Uncle Ned also did an afternoon DJ show on WMAZ. When WMAZ-TV went on the air in 1953, Uncle Ned and the Hayloft Jamboree moved the show to television as well as radio.

Career Achievement Inductees

Matt Cook Matt Cook

Matt Cook began at WBLJ in Dalton (1980) and WBTR in Carrollton as the afternoon DJ and sports anchor on Carrollton's WPPI-AM. Soon hired as News Director at WLBB, from 1984 to 1989. In 1989 he moved to Atlanta and was a reporter and anchor at WGST radio / Georgia News Network. He became GNN's morning anchor and statewide news editor in 1996. In 2001 he was assistant news director for WGST and was promoted to executive news producer / News Director of WGST and the Clear Channel Atlanta cluster in 2005. Matt was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of West Georgia in 2007. He has also won a number of AP and UPI awards.

Bill Elder Bill Elder

Bill Elder was born in New York but raised in Macon.  He got his first job on weekends at WMAZ which led to a job at WNEX. In 1972, Elder headed south to Valdosta State and WVLD. He returned to Macon and WNEX for a brief stay in 1974. In 1975 he went to WBML to do afternoons, then to WNEX a third time doing mornings until 1982. WMAZ FM hired Bill as morning man. That began an 18 year "wacky" wake-up morning show. The station changed its name to 99 WAYS AND achieved phenomenal ratings and revenue success. Elder retired in 2000 and now does voiceovers.

Nate Hirsch Nate Hirsch

Nate Hirsch moved to Statesboro in the '70s and became station manager at WWNS beginning a long association with Georgia Southern University. He "called" Eagle Football on the GSU Sports Network and basketball adding baseball in 1973. He called the action of all six NCAA I-AA National Champion seasons. In addition, he traveled with the Eagles during all three of GSU basketball’s NCAA Tournament appearances and was the voice of the Eagles until 2006. Today he is the area director for College Prospects of America, helping high school athletes find scholarship money. He is also the co-host of Upon Further Review, a local cable sports show.

John Moore John Moore

John Moore worked in radio as a teen and at Georgia Tech got his first ticket to work in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. In 1964, he went part-time job at WSB FM doing an evening shift. Soon, he moved over to WSB AM full time and worked on-air, production, and eventually became the solo host of WSB Merry Go Round from 5 to 10 AM. In 1982 he left WSB and became chief engineer and morning man at WRNG. Also working at WJYA AM/WJYF -FM he served as operations manager. Then to WDYX/WLKQ in Buford before leaving the radio. He became a full-time Software Developer in 2001.

Lauren Nobles Lauren Nobles

Lauren Nobles was the host of “Straight Talk” on WGIG in Brunswick since 1996. Born in Nichols he attended The Georgia Academy for the Blind. From the University of Georgia with his degree in broadcast journalism, he was a full-time News Director at WSIZ in Ocilla. He moved to Douglas where he was general manager/news director of WOKA AM/FM. In 1970 he became part owner of the stations. AT WOKA Nobles hosted “Coffee Break”. He also produced /engineered the Coffee High School broadcasts. In 1996 Lauren joined WGIG AM, Brunswick. Lions Club Man of The Year, recognized by the Georgia General Assembly for his broadcast accomplishments, he has also won awards from the Associated Press. 

Ron O'Quinn Ron O'Quinn

Ron O’Quinn’s radio career began at WMGA, Moultrie, at 17. After serving in the military, he resumed his career at WVLD, Valdosta; WROD, Daytona; WLCY, Tampa; WFUN, Miami; WYLD, New Orleans, WUBE, Cincinnati and KYA, San Francisco. In 1966, Ron was P.D. for Swingin’ Radio England, a pirate radio station broadcasting from the North Sea. He accompanied the Beatles on their U.S. tour in 1966, which led to his induction into the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. He returned to radio in 1987 with a weekly show in the U.S. and an oldies show on WQZY and WKKZ for 14 years. Ron now has a weekly syndicated show, Rock ‘n Roll Rewind, which is heard all over Europe.

Bruce Stevens Bruce Stevens

Bruce fell in love with radio at 11 hanging out at KENI, Anchorage. He moved to Augusta in 1965 to WRDW while attending high school. Then to WFNL, WGUS, and WAUG before joining WBBQ in 1974 working for Harley Drew, Ed Dunbar, and George Weiss. Bruce was music director and assistant PD winning a 1984 Mercedes Benz in the first AIR competition, Best Ears in The Business. He became PD in 1989 recognized by the industry with many awards for programming excellence including The Marconi from the NAB. When George Weiss purchased WZNY Bruce became operations director for both WBBQ and WZNY. He left radio in 2001 and currently works for Augusta Aviation.

Bob Todd Bob Todd

Bob Todd began his radio career in Michigan in 1964. In 1966, he came to Atlanta’s WQXI to do overnights. When Paul Drew, took himself off the air, he moved Todd into the afternoon drive. After a short stint at CKLW, he returned to WQXI as program and music director and resumed his afternoon drive. Todd remained at WQXI until 1969. While in Atlanta, Bob joined “Skinny” Bobby Harper as one of the DJs on “NOW EXPLOSION” the nation’s first music television show on Atlanta’s Channel 36 (then Ted Turner’s Channel 17). His career continued in Chattanooga, Louisville, Philadelphia, and other markets before he settled in Ocala Florida where he is President of Thurgaland Marketing and Consulting.

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