Dave "Hutch" Hutcheson
WKLO's final morning man.
We're delighted to post his remembrances of
WKLO and KJ-100, received on August 3, 2005.
When I arrived at WKLO, I realized I was stepping into the long shadows of some of
radio's biggest talent in the WAKY-WKLO "radio wars." That battle was as loud
and fun and as well-publicized in the trades as the WLS-WCFL wars, and
Louisville stations were filled with guys who had worked in LA and
Chicago. In fact, when I was doing mornings, I replaced a guy who
returned to WJR
in Detroit; WAKY's PD Mike McVay was brought in from 10Q in Los
Angeles; Gary Burbank (WHAS) and Bob Moody (WAKY) came from CKLW
in Detroit, and Bill Bailey had done mornings at WLS. WKLO and
WAKY were among the few stations in America where Elvis and the Beatles
would "come by."
Milton Berle and Hutch
late '70s, the handwriting was on the wall -- and it said "FM
Encroachment." Our choices were to go Full Service (WHAS was already
there) or move WKLO's spirit, energy and attitude to FM [KJ-100] and
keep Big Radio alive in Louisville. That's what we did.
Hutch and Melissa Manchester (1978)
KJ-100 bought a Rolls Royce and took
contest winners places in the "Rockin' Rolls." We gave away money saying
we were, "lighting our cigars with hundred dollar bills!" Most of the
great 'KLO staff made the transition, so the "new" station sounded
familiar to Louisville. Just a little more hot sauce.
Artie Johnson and Hutch doing the telethon
Our Production Director (the Best!) was
Rip Rinehart, who already had us sounding like FM on AM. What a
talent. And as smooth a midday guy as you'll ever hear. Like Bob
Dearborn at 'CFL.
When I got to town from Nashville, I was nervous about meeting a wild
legend like Bill Bailey. I mentioned it to my newsguy, Woody Stiles,
and he said "Hell, I used to work with him. He's a nice guy. A cowboy.
We'll go see him today after we all get off. He goes for refreshment at
the same bar at 10 every morning! And he turned out to be as wonderful,
down-to-earth and friendly as you can imagine.
Hutch with all-night DJ Jill Lawrence
I'm glad the Louisville radio community is
still going out of its way show Bill Bailey respect. He deserves it. Ask
about Hutch and he'll get a warm feeling in his heart and say "Who the
heck is he?"
Interestingly, Bill later returned to
us and the WKLO frequency when C.C. Matthews and Chuck Finney
created a new type of station: a country station programmed like a
top-40 station. We stole Bailey from WAKY and he put "Country 11" on the
map in one book doing mornings!
L-R: Unknown, Curly Neal, Hutch
Bill was one
of many genuinely gracious radio people I had the privilege of knowing. Our WKLO PD, Gary Major, was
wonderful to work for. And C.C. Matthews, his sucessor, was another
real human being. (I later did mornings for C.C. at WZPL in Indianapolis
and WGCL in Cleveland.) C.C.'s successor, Bobby Hatfield (who
previously worked at WAKY) came in from the WIFE/WNDE battles in
Indianapolis and added some new colors to the party. All of us still
stay in touch.
Gary Burbank (later at WHAS, now WLW) was
another star who was a regular guy. We'd laugh about how the best way to
wake up at 4am was to ride our motorcycles to work on a cold morning. He
was pulled over several times: he would do vocal exercises (no helmet) riding down
the road and scared residents, who would then call the cops.
The WKLO Control Room
A final word for all of us: Everyone
who worked at WKLO and WAKY in the '70s knew newsman Woody Stiles. He
was an individualist, even by our standards. He had an airplane with the
passenger door taken off so he could take up parachute jumpers. On
Saturdays, we'd either do that (he taught me how to jump) and I'd ride
sitting on the floor dangling my feet out the door. Woody also towed
banners, and one Saturday he dropped in low to grab one and his engine
failed. He had a choice of saving himself by going straight ahead and
hitting some houses (which would have killed people on the ground) or
turning the plane, which he knew would cause a stall and a crash at that
airspeed. He saved the people on the ground and lost his life in the
process. God bless you, Charles Woodson Stiles. Someday you and I and
the Duke of Louisville will fly again.
Hutch in 2005
Hutch also did mornings in
Cincinnati, San Antonio and Greensboro (NC). In 1998, Radio Ink magazine
named him "One of the Top 50 Programmers in America." After 10 years of
12-hour days as morning guy and VP of Operations at WAKG/WBTM Danville,
VA, he now consults the stations and does mornings on Full-Service
with daily appearances on WAKG's morning show. And he now flies solo.