H.K. Crowl

H. K. “Bud” Crowl owned and operated WAVI-AM and WDAO-FM radio, and he was truly a programming innovator. In 1964, he launched WDAO as the first FM radio station in America to exclusively program to African Americans. WDAO would become a powerhouse (“50,000 watts soundin’ like a million!). By the early 1970’s, Crowl offered another innovation with WAVI, offering a full-time “2 Way Telephone Talk and News” format, calling the station “People Power/WAVI”, with local talk show hosts who offered opinions on all sides of the political spectrum. WAVI entertained, informed and, sometimes irritated many. But, the listeners responded and proved that “People Power” was more than just a slogan.

*In 1955,Crowl purchased the former WWSO (then licensed to and located in Springfield) after it went off the air a year earlier and successfully moved its city of license and entire operation to Dayton and given the WAVI calls that same year. (WAVI was short for “Aviation” to become synonymous with Dayton being known as the “Birthplace of Aviation” and that of Wilbur and Orville Wright.) The move to Dayton was practically coincidental with the move of AM daytimer WJEL from Dayton to Springfield where it became known as WBLY from 1954 to 2002. That station is now known as WULM. WAVI aired mostly adult standards in the 1950s and 60s before switching to the talk format in the early 1970s. Bob Kweisell, Mike Scinto, A.J. Austin, Brad Clay, and the late Bernie “B.W.” Wulkotte (a Dayton Daily News columnist) were some of WAVI’s talkmasters and personalities. For a time, the legendary Gene “By Golly” Barry made WAVI his weekend home, spinning his brand of old 45 RPM Rock & Roll wax.

WDAO started in the fall of 1964 at 107.7 MHz on FM (currently home to WMMX “Mix 107.7”) Not only was it the first R&B-formatted station in the Miami Valley, it was also the first FM station of its kind in America and was the sister to AM daytimer WAVI owned and operated by H.K. “Bud” Crowl its founder (dba:WAVI Broadcasting Corp.) when its original studios were located adjacent to Interstate 75 at 1400 Cincinnati Street. Billed as “the soul of Dayton” it broadcast the hits of the Memphis and Motown soul era of the 1960s and into the Philadelphia disco sound of the 70s. Like its Top 40 AM competitor WING, it also had a stable of on-air personalities including “Big Ray” Meaders, Bill “Biggie B.C.” Carr, “Shotgun” Pleasant, Long John Silver, Lankford “The Man” Stevens, Mack J. Pettigrew, Jim Johnson, Turk Logan, Michael Ecton, Brinda “Let’s Rock” Carter, and the late Rick Smith (later of WHIO-TV). WING alumnus Gene “By Golly” Barry also worked at WDAO as program director in the late 1970s in addition to hosting a weekend oldies program on WAVI in the early 1980s. WDAO-FM was the most popular of Crowl’s stations,the other being “people power” WAVI with a talk format sometimes mixed with adult standards and a simulcast of WDAO-FM’s Sunday evening jazz program. Sunday morning Gospel was hosted by Stanley Henry of Springfield and Sunday evening had a program called “Backpage”, hosted by Raymond Graham and RoNita Hawes. (* Source Wikipedia)

Phil Donahue

Millions know his name from his syndicated TV talk show. But, in the early 1960’s Donahue was a newscaster for WHIO Radio and Television in Dayton. For a time, he hosted a mid-day radio talk show called “Conversation Piece”. But Phil tired of the radio grind and left broadcasting for a while and tried to start a career as an incentive salesman. Later, an executive with WLWD-TV, Channel 2 had a brainstorm…take a format similar to WHIO’s “Conversation Piece” and put it on television. He contacted Phil and offered him the job as host. “The Phil Donahue Show” debuted in November, 1967 with a studio audience, live telephone calls from viewers and atheist Madalyn Murray O’ Hair as its’ first guest. Later, Phil would move the show first to Chicago, then New York. But, “Donahue” remained on the air from 1967 to 1996 and was one of the first successful syndicated daytime talk programs.

*Phillip John “Phil” Donahue (born December 21, 1935) is an American media personality, writer, and film producer best known as the creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show. The television program, also known as Donahue, was the first talk show format that included audience participation.  The show had a 29-year run on national television in America that began in Dayton, Ohio, and ended in New York City in 1996.

His shows have often focused on issues that divide liberals and conservatives in the United States, such as abortion, consumer protection, civil rights and war issues. His most frequent guest was Ralph Nader, for whom Donahue campaigned in 2000.[1] Donahue also briefly hosted a talk show on MSNBC from July 2002 to March 2003. In 1996, Donahue was ranked #42 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time

Donahue was born into a middle-class, churchgoing, Irish Catholic family in Cleveland, Ohio; attended Catholic schools and graduated with a B.F.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1957.

Phil Donahue began his career in 1957 as a production assistant at KYW radio and television in Cleveland. He got a chance to become an announcer one day when the regular announcer failed to show up. After a brief stint as a bank check sorter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he became program director for WABJ radio in Adrian, Michigan, soon after graduating. He moved on to become a stringer for the CBS Evening News and later, an anchor of the morning newscast at WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio, where his interviews with Jimmy Hoffa and Billie Sol Estes were picked up nationally. While in Dayton, Donahue also hosted Conversation Piece, a phone-in afternoon talk show from 1963 to 1967 on WHIO radio. In Dayton, Donahue interviewed presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, late night talk show host Johnny Carson,[8] human rights activist Malcolm X and Vietnam war opponents including Jerry Rubin.  In Chicago and New York, Donahue interviewed Elton John,[10] heavyweight boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and author and political activist Noam Chomsky.

On November 6, 1967, Donahue left WHIO, moving his talk program to television with The Phil Donahue Show on WLWD (now WDTN), also in Dayton. Initially, the program was shown only on other stations owned by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation (which would later take the name of its parent Avco Company), which also owned WLWD. But, in January 1970, The Phil Donahue Show entered nationwide syndication. Donahue’s syndicated show moved from Dayton, Ohio, to Chicago in 1974; then in 1984, he moved the show to New York City to be near his wife Marlo Thomas.

After a 29-year run—26 years in syndication—and nearly 7,000 one-hour daily shows, the final original episode of Donahue aired on September 13, 1996. (Source: Wikipedia) 

Bette Rogge

Bette would spend decades on the radio at WING and WHIO. But, during the 1960’s she became the first female in the area to host a local TV variety show, that would air during the 60’s and 70’s. She would continue her career with an interview show on local cable TV during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

*Bette Rogge is a native Daytonian who is a pioneer in radio and TV. She began her radio days in the early 1930’s at WSMK, named after Stanley M. Krone. Jack Wymer was the station announcer. Bette did radio shows later on WING and WHIO radio in Dayton, Ohio. She did commercials for Jesse Philips at the Home Store while attending University of Dayton. Later, she did many commericials on radio and was the Women’s Editor and commercial announcer on the WHIO radio program, “Newspaper of the Air” each morning for 4 years.

She started on TV in the early 1950’s with an exercise show called “The Perfect Pair,” starring Bette and Toby Tobias, a fitness expert from the YMCA. It was sponsored by Bendix washers and dryers. She also did other TV shows: “Dietz & Rogge show”; “Betty Bonner”; “Meet the Boss”; “Don’s House” and many others. From 1967 – 1972 she did her own show, “The Bette Rogge Show,” featuring such guests as Bob Hope, the Nixon daughters, Mickey Rooney, Paul Lynde, actors from the Kenley Players and many others.

Bette also did regular radio & TV commercials for Royal Crest Dairy, Fox Cleaners, Culligan, Ohio Bell, Harmony Farms, Miami Valley Milk Producers, Eaveys Super Markets and others. She worked two days a week at WBNS-TV and WLW~C TV in Columbus. One of the highlights of her TV career was special 30 minute TV tour of the White House in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson hosted King Olav of Norway. Bette interviewed Liz Carpenter, Chef Henry Haller, the White House florist and was part of a reception held by Mrs.Johnson. She also was a guest at the Norwegian Embassy when King Olav entertained President Johnson. This 30 minute show was aired on WHIO-TV.

Bette also covered the lift-off of Apollo 14, interviewed astronauts & NASA officials plus presenting a Kittyhawk replica to local leaders. She covered the pre-opening of Disney World, did a special interview from the Goodyear Blimp, was a special TV hostess for the Bogie Busters – a Dayton-based celebrity golf tournament.

In the 1950’s, Bette did the first color TV commercial (Royal Crest Dairy) at WLW-D and the first color national television feed from Wright-Patterson AFB with the Howdy Doody folks who were in Dayton for the Community Chest. She also did feature shows from the Indy 500, one being an interview with A.J. Foyt as they drove around the track. She also did a series of special interviews with Jack Lord of Hawaii 50 and Don Ho when she was in Hawaii in 1970.

Bette also appeared on the national Virginia Graham Show in New York with Erma Bombeck in 1968. Bette has a theater background and appeared in a number of John Kenley Shows throughout Ohio. She has also been recognized in a number of national magazines. (Source: Wikipedia)

Lou Emm

Some radio fans would say that Dayton was unique because it had 3 types of radio…AM, FM and Lou Emm. Lou began his career in Lima, Ohio where his boss was another famous broadcaster-to-be: Hugh Downs. But, Lou came to Dayton in the early 40’s as a staff announcer for WHIO Radio. Eventually, he would take over the reins of the station’s morning show where he would dominate the morning drive ratings until he left WHIO in 1992. Lou was active in the community, lending his name to many fund raisers and celebrity golf tournaments. After leaving WHIO, Lou worked for a time on WONE. A while later, Lou passed away and was given an honor no other Dayton broadcaster has ever received: every radio station in Dayton paused for a collective moment of silence in his memory.

*Mr. Emm began his radio career at age 16 as an announcer at WSPD-AM in his hometown of Toledo. He later worked at WLOK-AM in Lima, earning $17 a week. His boss in Lima was Hugh Downs, co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20.

Mr. Emm joined the staff at WHIO on Oct. 22, 1941, as an announcer and news reader. After hosting such shows as Hello For Dough and Breakfast In Bedlam, he originated Conversation Piece , a talk show that lasted 17 years and was later taken over by Phil Donahue, who went on to gain fame as a TV talk-show host.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when many Dayton-area organizations called on radio, TV and newspaper personalities to put some pizazz in their celebrity golf tournaments and other fund-raisers, the venerable Mr. Emm was often there with his trademark cigar.

In October 1991, when he marked his 50th year at WHIO, he said, “I’ve always enjoyed being with the people because they are the ones who have allowed me to have a career in radio all these years.”   When he retired, Mr. Emm observed, “I think the secret to surviving in this business is to be yourself. I never was very good at doing impressions, so I’ve been contented to be me, and I guess it has gone over well with my listeners.”

Jim Manley, who shared a WHIO morning show microphone with Mr. Emm from 1990 to 1992, said, “Lou was a kind, gentle, great man.”   Larry Hansgen, WHIO’s sports director, knew Mr. Emm for 16 years.

“When I came to the station I worked with Lou in the morning and I wanted to be just like him,” Hansgen recalled. “He was so dedicated to his job, and so involved with his listeners. Lou was at his best when he was making public appearances. He could charm a whole roomful of people.”

Toula Stamm produced Mr. Emm’s morning show from 1970 to 1977. She also produced Conversation Piece.  “Lou loved broadcasting, his cigars and golf,” Stamm said. (*Source: Dayton Daily News – Copyright, 1997.

Jack Wymer

Jack would host one of America’s most innovative and longest airing public affairs programs. “The Man On The Street” aired at noon weekdays on WING radio, live from the streets of downtown Dayton from 1936 until 1980. Dignitaries would stop by…but you didn’t have to be famous to be Jack’s guest. You might be just as likely to hear from a local Cub Scout Pack as you would a local politician.

Bob Phillips

Bob “Scoop” Phillips was a videographer for WLW-D Television and later, WDTN-TV (both Channel 2) for 51years. TV industry leaders as well as his peers in local broadcasting have acclaimed many time over his video work over decades. Bob was an industry leader and was active in the fight to get cameras in the courtroom throughout the Miami Valley and in Ohio.

Don Wayne

For 47 years, people in the Miami Valley trusted Don Wayne to bring them the news. First on WHIO radio, then on WHIO-TV, Channel 7. Wayne was known nationally, but not for perhaps what you might think. You see, his style of delivery was very similar to that of Walter Cronkite. It’s been told that people would tell Cronkite, “you know, you sound just like that guy in Dayton!” In 1966, Wayne reported from Vietnam, and covered the American’s held hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979-1980. When he retired, Dan Rather was present at the retirement gathering. Don Wayne, and Newscenter 7 ruled the local TV News market.

Steve Kirk

Loud, brash, some would say obnoxious, but always entertaining and funny. What Lou Emm was to Dayton’s adults, “Kirkie” was to a generation of Dayton’s youth. After spending time on the air in Columbus and Cincinnati, Steve found his way to Dayton and to the morning shift on WING radio on Labor Day, 1967, and he would stay in that post for exactly 25 years always garnering the top ratings on the station. His “put-ons” (crank phone calls) were legendary. (Like the time he called the mother/manager of a local teen rock band wanting them to play for an event. There was just one catch, though. His “event” was (supposedly) at a nudist colony and the group would have to perform…well, you know!) And every morning the show would be punctuated with “Hi-ya, gang! Kirkie here!” ha-chi-chi-chi-chi-chi!” Steve was active in many community events and telethons.

Carl Day

Carl came to Dayton and became a top rated radio personality on WHIO Radio, and would host two syndicated television shows. He then moved into the realm of TV news as an anchor for WDTN-TV (Channel 2) and WKEF-TV (Channel 22) and would sit in the anchor chair throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s.

Omar Williams

Omar started his Dayton broadcasting career in 1951, eventually becoming Sports Director for WLWD-TV (later WDTN-TV). For many viewers, he was “Mr. Sports” in the Miami Valley, covering the famed “Big Red Machine” of the 1970’s, the Bengal’s Super Bowl teams, and Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin C. Moses.

Edythe Lewis

A true ground breaker in American broadcasting. As “Delilah”, Lewis was the first black female DJ in Dayton in the mid 1950’s. During that time, few blacks were DJ’s (unless, of course, it was a “black” formatted radio station and those were few and far between back then.) But, Lewis made her mark in the early days of Top 40 radio on Dayton powerhouse WING.

In 2001, her husband Lloyd Lewis Jr., a member of the Dayton City Commission, died, and she was elected in a special election to fill out the remaining months of his term, defeating Republican Abner Orick.

Harold Wright

Known by many as “Brother James”, Wright was Dayton’s first gospel announcer of color. He would be heard on WING Radio and seen on WHIO-TV. For 23 years, Brother James hosted a gospel music and interview-variety show. He also staged benefit programs and was active in various community events.

Community Service Award

E. George "Babe" Ferguson

E. George “Babe” Ferguson had a passion for aviation and, as a Montgomery County Commissioner, worked to preserve Dayton’s aviation history and worked to get the words “Birthplace Of Aviation” added to Ohio’s license plates. She was truly a friend of the media and a tireless community servant.