Broadcast Specialist Sam Hale, 1957
Broadcast Specialist Sam Hale with AFRTS 1957-1958, KANUASMARA. Sam has the distinction of having done the first regularly scheduled live newscast from an U.S. Army operated TV station.

Sam Hale, WKDA 1959
Sam Hale, WKDA 1959

Hoss Allen, Sam Hale, Hugh Jarrett
"A Night For The Hossman" - Hoss Allen, Sam Hale and Hugh Jarrett ("The Big Hugh Baby"), Centennial Ballroom, Lowe's Vanderbilt Plaza, Nashville, May 7, 1992.

Priscilla Presley and Sam Hale
Sam was a recent guest of Priscilla Presley and Graceland for an anniversary program. Photo (C) Sam Hale, 2004.
The Sam Hale Collection

Like so many others whose air checks and comments reside here in the REELRADIO archives, Sam Hale was fascinated with radio from his earliest years. His winning various public speaking contests, and the publicity of having been elected Governor of the TN 4-H Club Congress, led to his first paying gig, "Letters to Santa". He recalls taping this show on the Magnecord recorder with the speed slowed by adding electrical tape to one of its capstans to deepen the sound of his young voice. This led to his getting to cover for the entire air-staff on Christmas day; the only person in the station December 25, 1954 - 5:00 AM 'til signoff at midnight! The station, WMMT, McMinnville, TN, was a Mutual affiliate and the only station in town at the time. However, he recalls its having had several excellent announcers, including Chris Lane (Country DJ Hall of Fame), who, thanks to Eddie Arnold, began his long and very successful commercial career in this small town. Without intervening contact for 15 years Sam would later work with Chris when he returned to Bartell in Milwaukee, before Chris went to KYA. He and the terrific Terrell Metheny (Mitch Michael) were also reunited at WOKY. They had first worked together at WKDA.

A second station (WBMC) went on the air May 1, 1955 and "Sammy" became a member of the original announcing staff. He managed a full time radio shift while not allowing his grades to suffer and graduated Valedictorian of his class. During this year he shared an apartment with a fellow announcer, Ed Philllips, who later would be known as Mel Kent (WYDE), Johnny Holiday (KCBQ), Johnny Mitchell (KHJ) and Sebastian Stone (KFRC and WOR-FM). Years later, Ed would phone Sam (WKDA) when Bartell was transferring him from WYDE to KCBQ and suggest he take the spot he was leaving in Birmingham. That was Sam's introduction to Bartell. It also resulted in his meeting his wife of 53 years! At WYDE he was privileged to work with Jay Cook (WFIL, Gannett President) and Jim Staggs (WCFL, WMAQ) and others. His, and Birmingham's favorite, Joe Carl, died of lung cancer in this brief window of time. Joe was only 21!

Following discharge from the Army, where he served as a Broadcast Specialist, Sam resumed his radio career at WYDE, WADO, WJJD, WDGY, WOKY and WQXI. Air shifts were generally only three to four hours a day; then an hour, or so of production work. This permitted him to pursue his newly developed interest in the study of the stock market. He left broadcasting for those greater financial prospects in 1966.

After a successful career as a Chartered Market Technician and affiliate of the New York Society of Security Analysts, Sam retired in 2003. In the intervening years he has continued to do limited voice over and commercial work. Now he is having thoughts of doing radio again - just for the fun of it! He says, "I've nurtured friendships with many in the music industry through all these years and would enjoy doing a show with those records I helped make hits - 1954-1966". You'd likely say — "Dream on! Do you know what's happened to radio?"

Sam Hale passed away at the age of 78, after a lengthy illness in early August, 2015.

Sam Hale joined the REELRADIO Board of Directors on August 22, 2005, but resigned on June 1, 2006, due to health issues.
Sam was also Co-Founder and former Vice President of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame and a 2010 Career Achievement inductee.
The Repository thanks Sam for his airchecks, and all his efforts on behalf of our organization.

[Descriptions by Sam Hale]

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sammy Hale, WKDA Snippets Nashville TN, 1959 (09:38)

. . . On Time With The Chime . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

WKDA and Sammy Hale
I regret terribly not having a decent air check from WKDA. They were lost somewhere along the way and I was only able to recover snippets from the only tape I have found from that era. WKDA was such a classic example of Top 40 and remained number one in the market for several years.

Jack Stapp was the hands-on general manager and everyone who passed through there learned enormously from him. As a young man he went from Atlanta to CBS in NYC. But WSM soon recruited him to come to Nashville. There he produced and directed numerous feeds to the NBC network, including, of course, The Grand Ole Opry. He "discovered" many great talents, including Dinah Shore, Kitty Kallen and Snooky Lanson, as well as many of the famous names of country music. Younger people might never know that WSM was a power house in big band music but hundreds of hours of programming with the likes of The Owen Bradley Orchestra originated there. As a young farm boy I listened studiously to the great announcers, David Cobb, Ott Devine and Jud Collins. Leaning to pronounce the vowels and no confusing the short "E" and "I", I overcame my "southern accent".

WKDA Number One In All Surveys For Four Consecutive Years 1240 Nashville Tenn
Jack also got involved with music publishing along the way. Music publishing became such an important part of his life that WSM gave him an ultimatum to divest those interests or leave. He befriended many performers and out of gratitude one gave him "The Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy", a song that became one of the all time classics of country music. If you see a copy, you will see it was written by Jack Stapp. Now you know! Jack left WSM and took the helm of WKDA and turned it into a phenomenal success. He also expanded his publishing interests and hired Buddy Killen, a staff bull-fiddle player on the Opry to manage his catalog . With the hits of Roger Miller, and scores of others, Tree Publishing became the publisher of the year, time after time, after time. Tree Publishing, became Sony-Tree, when Buddy, long after Jack's death, sold it to Sony. Jack was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame by Chet Atkins.

John Kluge (yes, THE John Kluge — Metromedia) bought WKDA while I was there and called a staff meeting. While I was impressed with him and his extremely likeable manner, I had no idea I was sitting at the feet of a man who would become one of the richest in the world.

Hairl and Sam
Hairl Hensley and Sam Hale backstage at The Grand Ole Opry. Hairl is dean of WSM and Opry announcers. Hairl is heard on the WKDA snippets with Terrell Metheny ("Wheel For A Day") and doing the Amoco spots in the news.
Aside from me, the voice that is heard most often on this tape is Hairl Hensley. He was doing the all night show at the time. He later switched to country and has become the dean of announcers at WSM and The Grand Ole Opry - still going strong. The two-voice promotion is Hairl and Terrell L. Metheny, Jr. At the time his air name was Ronn Terrell. He later used the name Mitch Michael and recently retired after programming and, then, managing radio stations for several years. His son Kevin has also developed an outstanding career in broadcasting.

At the end of a jock's air shift, the jock would be responsible for the newscast preceding the next jock's record show. In this case, I'm completing my shift by doing the news preceding Ronn's show. Ronn had been responsible for the newscast during my show. We worked back then!

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sam Hale as Charlie King, WADO New York, May 1960 (04:11)

. . . this week, it's number eight on the totem pole of popularity . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

I found a reel of tape that must have been throwaway quality even in 1959 but I was able to capture a few minutes of (almost) listenable audio. I tried to get as many jingle examples as I could but some were just impossible. Here's what I did get:

  • A snippet from an Army Recruiting Station remote in Times Square
  • Snippets from my 9-11 and 1-3 show.
  • Quickline 60 - News Intro - and a few seconds of Jack Powers.
The Bartell family purchased WOV in New York and on November 1, 1959 signed on from the transmitter site in Secaucus, NJ as WADO. WOV had been block programmed from studios in Manhattan. It had featured a heavy Italian schedule with Gospel, Rhythm and Blues (Jocko Henderson & Jack Walker) and Jazz (Symphony Sid) through the night. Fred Robbins was perhaps the most famous air personality playing standard popular music in an afternoon show. Of course, Bartell wanted to introduce their Top 40 format and, I presume because of promises to the FCC to continue to satisfy the established public interests, the modern format only ran from early morning until 7:00 PM. Italian programming was then scheduled until 10; then, the rest of the previous lineup. Alan Fredericks did his "Night Train" show also, but I think they may have only been on the weekends. My understanding was that a primary motivation in establishing the transmitter site studio in NJ was to allow the extremely talented Harry Martin ("Happy Hare") to operate the turntables with his cut-ins. Harry had scored large ratings at KCBQ and National PD Al Heacock brought him along to NY. He also hired Mort Crowley and gave him the air name Johnny Holladay.

Card signed by Gerald A. Bartell: Best of luck, Sammy - and good health for this and every birthday! And a special thanks for good work in New York. Jerry
Apparently there was some sort of contract problem involving the third DJ hired and a frantic call went out for air checks from within the chain for a replacement. Al selected me and when I got off the plane he greeted me with a, "Hi Charlie". As if the culture shock were not enough, I also had a new name — Charlie King — simply because he already had stagings for a Charlie. Whatever the problem with the other hire, it was resolved within a few weeks and I returned to WYDE. However, another problem developed and I was quickly summoned back to NY until they selected someone else. I later realized the importance of getting me back to WYDE was to get (keep) the ratings up; They were in negotiations to sell WYDE to Mr. & Mrs. Ira Herbert. That deal went through within a few months and I was soon off to do the morning show at WJJD for Dick Deason, who had been PD at WYDE when I joined them.

In spite of the talented Al Heacock, Harry Martin, Mort Crowley, Jack Powers news, and others, WADO was unable to gain a foothold. By 1963 the Bartells had shifted to Hispanic programming and later sold the station. My understanding is that WADO was the premier Hispanic station in NYC for several years.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (8.5 Khz)
Sammy Hale, WJJD Chicago, February 16, 1961 (24:44)

. . . Big J Happy Time . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

PLAY  (16:32)
This Exhibit SCOPED
The music has been removed for a 'scoped version of this aircheck.
The most unpleasant memories of my radio career are from WJJD — the exception being that I enjoyed working with Jack Spector, with whom I did some hops. Jack did afternoon drive. At the time of this air check the studios were in the Union Carbide building at 230 N. Michigan Avenue. The main broadcast studio was suspended so the vibrations from the underground rail would not be a problem. It must have been built in the '30s or early '40s as the studio was large enough to accommodate an orchestra and studio audience. I don't think it had ever been repainted. The colors were drab to begin with and the lighting was poor. The announcer's desk was in the center of the studio and way over in the left corner were the turntables, records and transcriptions (commercials).

At this time, the musician's union still provided the musician to operate the turntables. My guy hated top 40 music and would show his displeasure with grimaces and by actually plugging his fingers in his ears. The (older) engineer who controlled the mike and volume levels was up in the control room several yards away, and was smoking his pipe and reading the morning paper. Plus, after signing on at 4:00 or 5:00 AM (I've forgotten which); we signed off for 15 minutes at 7:00 AM to allow some station out West to sign on. This tape begins after we've signed back on.

My charge was to do a light and happy show under these conditions. Embarrassing as these early air checks are, they are part of my Top 40 radio history. By the way, the "image" voice was the newest PD, Stan Major, heard on all the promos and intros. The short period that I was there was too long. I was later able to introduce newsman Cy Nelson, who was incredulous with those news stagings, to a job with Bartell at WOKY in Milwaukee. He was a quality gentleman.

Interestingly, when I returned to Bartell later in '61, Chris Lane was PD and his charge was just the opposite - straight ahead "tuff" manly radio. It was only a short time until Chris went to Bartell's KYA. Later he became one of the giants with his country format. He actually put WJJD on the map for a few years later with country. Chris was post-humously inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 2001. Although he was a native of the mid-west, Chris' radio career had begun in my little hometown of McMinnville, TN and we meet up again in Milwaukee! As they say, "it's a small world, after all".

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sam Hale, WOKY Milwaukee, July 17, 1962 (29:14)

Picture of Sam Hale on WOKY one-sheet
Sam Hale from WOKY one-sheet.
. . . this week on the totem pole of popularity . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

Studios were located at the transmitter site at WOKY during this era. Engineers manned the turntables and controls and they were on rotating shifts. Some were "with it" and some were not. There are several instances on my WOKY airchecks that highlight the frustrations of not being "in control", as I was, for example, at WQXI.

However, my years with Bartell were among the most satisfying of my relatively short radio career. At this time, I was Music Director/Gavin Reporter and afternoon drive host.
Picture of WOKY in Milwaukee Sing Along Survey logo

Bill Taylor, who is heard as the WOKY Question Man and on Headline News, was still at WOKY as of 2004. He was in the Northwestern University graduating class with Ann Margaret. Although it isn't represented here, he was a very talented voice mimic.

Don Phillips followed me at 7PM. Don was later hired by Gene Taylor at WLS. Years later, when I arrived on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange to become a market maker in IBM options, I encountered Don on the floor. He was trading General Motors and Eastman Kodak. Don was building a yacht from concrete at the time. I had never heard of a boat built of cement, but I'm told he completed his project, and a few years ago, I heard he was retired and at sea.

Record Hops were tremendously popular during this period in Milwaukee. I had CYO hops just about every Friday night and, being ecumenical, I often did a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah on Saturday night.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sam Hale, WOKY Milwaukee, August 3, 1962 (27:22)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (12:11)

. . . the weirdest-looking bunch of people you'd ever want to see . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

How times have changed! I thought Peter, Paul & Mary were "weird-looking" in 1962. This is now embarrassing as I see nothing weird in their look today.

Picture of Hooper Ratings

A couple of years ago, I was with them for the first time since the reference on this tape. They were most gracious and, because it was so early in their career, actually remembered my working with them in Milwaukee. Paul Stookey told my oldest son, Barry, "Your dad taught us how to use a microphone."

The drummer on the #1 record that week, Sheila, is Mike Clark who, together with Bill Lowery owned Southern Tracks Studios where some of today's giants, such as Bruce Springsteen, recorded smash hits.

[There are seven musical performances on this exhibit, only one was not restored.]

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sam Hale, WQXI Atlanta, October 31, 1963 (32:02)

Sam Hale Dancing
Sam Hale from WQXI October 1964 Top 20
PLAY  (19:28)
This exhibit 'SCOPED
. . . you got a frog in your throat, buster . . .

[Description by contributor Sam Hale]

Click for Tiger Top Twenty of October 3, 1964.
(BIG file! 111K)
My regular slot for my (almost) four years at WQXI was 9 AM -12 Noon and I don't recall why I was doing mornings. If I were just substituting for someone out on vacation or ill I would not have called it "The Sam Hale Show". I suppose we were between morning jocks.

I recall three while I was there, Red Jones, Mike Holiday (Reineri) and Ken Dowe — other than myself. I did regularly do Saturday mornings, 6AM to 12 Noon.

I had no producer, engineer, musician's union member playing the records (see WJJD note!) or telephone operator during this period. The jock was it, including the two-way radio set-up for the Air Traffic patrol plane.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Sam Hale, Gregory Jon, Bruce Cole, WOKY Milwaukee,
March 2, 2007

. . . I'd really like to be a disc jockey, if I could make any money . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky, contributed by Sam Hale]

It was Ultimate Flashback Friday, March 2, 2007 when Sam Hale returned to the airwaves in Milwaukee on The Mighty 92, WOKY.

In 2007 and until September 2008, the station was programming an oldies format utilizing the Mighty 92 moniker and WOKY jingles from their dominant Top 40 era.

Morning hosts Gregory Jon and Bruce Cole welcomed Sam, via telephone, to reminisce about his time in Milwaukee.

Sam graciously reveals that the WOKY hosts found him via REELRADIO, and they even play a short portion of a WOKY aircheck.

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Additional Exhibits from The Sam Hale Collection...

Bill Drake, WAKE Atlanta, January 29, 1959
Red Jones, KILT Houston TX, July 17, 1961
Paul Drew, WAKE Atlanta, Summer 1963
Tony Taylor, WQXI Atlanta, April 1965
WQXI Composite, 1968-1979, Part One
WQXI Composite 1968-1979, Part Two

The Sam Hale Collection has been part of REELRADIO since April 4, 2004!
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