My Short Career in Radio Broadcasting

The chief engineer, Bruce, along with the program manager, Don, invited Jay and me out on his boat for the next weekend.

The year was 1956, and I was working as a cameraman at the Thomasville, GA, studios of WCTV.

I had been interested in radio as a kid and would hang out at the company-owned radio station just around the block. Jay was the drive-time DJ, and I would pester the daylights out him to let me read the news on the air. He thought it the funniest thing he had ever heard, as I stammered and stuttered just enough to make it a farcical dream in deed.

I later boned up on my diction, using the text from one of the local live television shows: "Good afternoon. Time now for 'Garden Notes,' helpful hints and comments on how to better your gardening skills. And is your host for the afternoon, Tom 'Green Thumb' Stokes."

I practiced this line for hours, and when I thought I was ready, I went for a real try at being another "Gabriel Heatter.": To my surprise, Jay turned me loose, and I acquired a fairly good radio voice and--to everyone's surprise--lost the stutter.

It was early May, when boaters were out testing their new outboards. The chief engineer, Bruce, along with the program manager, Don, invited Jay and me out on his boat for the next weekend.

We met up early Saturday morning and headed out to a little place on the Gulf of Mexico by the name of Sop Choppy. Neither Jay nor I had deep-sea fishing tackle and had no reason to have any. The engineer let us borrow his extra equipment. The boat was a wood-hull affair about 20 years old, set low in the water and ultra slow. From the marina, we set out for the deep water at least 40 miles away. It was almost midday when we wet our first hook.

For Jay and me there were no bites, but for the engineer and his old fishing buddy it was "Katy bar the door" as they pulled in the prime fish by the bucket as we rookies were lucky for a suckerfish or two. Jay and I became bait cutters for the older guys and just baked beneath a clear blue sky and in an open boat with no shade in sight.

As bad as it was for me, poor old redhead Jay turned the color of a lobster and had to go to the hospital with sun poisoning.

I did not see or hear about Jay until some years later, when he appeared on network television as "Jay Barbaree,": NBC's Cape Canaveral correspondent.


My life has been a long series of short stories, written for my own entertainment. My favorite line of all time is a line from Truman Capote.

"Dogs bark and the parade goes on"


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