Five years later and I still can’t believe that we didn’t win an Emmy for this video masterpiece.
Today is National Radio Day. In my life, it means almost as much as my birthday.
I’ve been lucky enough to earn my living doing what I always wanted to do. From the time I was a little kid I just wanted to be on the radio. My dad laughed at Bill Bailey’s jokes. I loved WAKY radio and the lunacy I heard from its deejays.
I was hired at WHAS in 1985 for my sarcastic comedy streak, but the job evolved into conducting news making interviews with the powerful and prominent. Sometimes people become more prominent after appearing on my show.
After some of my WAKY buddies helped me put together an audition tape in 1976, I was hired by Jim Rivers, a Lexington programmer at WKQQ-FM and WBLG-AM. While other college kids were out having fun, I was tending to the automated rock songs on WKQQ from 10 PM until 6 AM on both Friday and Saturday nights. That’s the lowest rung on the ladder.
But I loved it. I was earning minimum wage and couldn’t wait until my next shift so that I could be part of the delivery system of music, promos, and a few parody pieces I started to submit. Eventually WKQQ went to live deejays and I was not selected. Six months in, one of the new hires didn’t work out so I was given a chance.
Happy National Radio Day. I hope your career brings you the soaring joy I still receive from mine some forty years later. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching my TV nonsense. Thanks for being so supportive to my family after all these years. I hope I’ve been of help to you or your organization in some positive way.
— Terry Meiners (@terrymeiners) June 19, 2017
A lot of the folks in the above photo made great impressions on me and helped boost my career. I am forever grateful to all of the wonderful broadcast mates I’ve shared studios with. Each one added to my portfolio of knowledge and devotion to the craft of communication. Thank you all so much.
The most important component of my career has been taking part in the public service miracle called the Crusade for Children. Through all of the challenges of regular workdays, nothing rewards the soul more than helping special needs children and their families. I am eternally grateful for the chance to help in some small way. Onward.
In closing, one final hero must be spotlighted. Paul Harvey was the quintssential American broadcaster. We carried his broadcasts on WHAS for decades. See his story below.
Join us on May 15th at Elk Run for the Ted Throckmorton Crusade for Children golf tournament. Ted was a Crusade volunteer for over 60 years. Now that he has passed, we honor him with his friends to continue the cause of helping special needs children.
Don’t miss my one and only swing at 1:49 in the above video. I was wearing my business suit pants and shoes and literally got out of the car and walked to the tee box. 105 yards, 52 degree wedge into a headwind, ball stops 6 feet short. Birdie.
We’ve upgraded the Crusade music menu this year. Thanks, Teddy Abrams.
Is radio dead? Is TV dead? Nope. But there is a reframing of information flow.
A recent poll lists broadcasting as one of today’s worst career choices. You may be surprised to learn how little most TV and radio people earn. Others predict the end of talk radio following the 2016 elections. No way. Local talk shows allow each city’s residents to weigh in on local issues. The local radio station is the kitchen table where everyone can throw in their two cents or at least eavesdrop on those who do.
I completely love my 40 year broadcast career and have rarely regretted choosing it. I have learned 10 million things by talking with a zillion people on radio and TV. WHAS-TV’s Great Day Live and my WHAS radio show are valuable assets to local groups promoting important newsworthy fundraising efforts and social connectivity.
With today’s ongoing battles to jump the minimum wage to $15 per hour, I thought you might enjoy this 1976 memo that kept me from being laid off only months after I’d started part-time production work at WKQQ/Lexington. (NOTE: the boss had poor math skills. I earned $40 per MONTH, not per week, and that totals $480 annually). Our “full-time” deejays were knocking down $3 per hour or $84 per week if they never took off a day. (federal minimum wage in 1976 was $2.30)
That’s twenty-year-old me at work in the WKQQ studio (1977). Because I wasn’t laid off in 1976 and discouraged about working in media, my broadcast life has been massively successful. Someone gave me a shot and I have worked like a mule to advance over 4 decades. A recent charity roast spotlighted my highs and lows. For many others in broadcasting, it is a tough, low-paying pursuit. Here’s a blog from a meteorologist who started in 1999 for $10/hr after completing college. The love of the game keeps all of us in it regardless of monetary gain. (MORE: Why a $15 minimum wage is not the answer)
Now many of my contemporaries are leaving the business. Just this week, a group of WHAS-TV colleagues are rolling on to new dimensions. Each one of them has been a pillar of WHAS’ success and a vital part of my growth as a broadcaster. My radio company iHeartMedia also just restructured staff placement which left six cherished colleagues in search of new challenges. Each of them added positive value to my life and career. Broadcasting is certainly under siege, but by no means dead.
They were both hilarious in the March 2016 charity roast featuring the best of the best in Louisville broadcasters. Each member of that roast cast is a high earner in broadcasting (and the lawyer and UofL department head are also well-paid).
Lots of people enter the broadcasting game but only a few are lucky enough to make a decent living. It’s a tough business that demands a love of the game with a secondary eye on monetary reward.
Local broadcasting will continue to deliver local information, and more importantly, local compassion.
A 2009 blog post I wrote for a site compiling info on Lexington radio stations:
Terry Meiners, Lexington radio personality from 1977 thru 1980.
I was originally hired in 1976 to monitor the automation on the weekend overnight shifts. Eventually, WKQQ-FM “Double Q” went live and I was given a chance to go on the air when one of the original hires did not work out.
I am enclosing a photo of me (posted above) in the tiny WKQQ control room not long after it went live in early 1977. I am also enclosing a memo (also posted above) written by then program director Dick Hungate that laid out his proposed budget for taking the station from automation to live.
Notice that he saves my job because I am a part-time college student who makes minimum wage. Hungate’s actual calculation of my annual earnings is incorrect, but it still shows how cheaply a station could be run in that era.
WKQQ, which used the positioning phrase “Stereo Album Rock” at the time I was there, was a great launch pad for me. I started out doing late night, then evenings, then the morning show, then afternoon drive before tiring of it.
I learned to use sound effects to make it seem as though I was cutting the station’s grass while the music played. I would tell the audience that the boss was making all of us do multiple jobs so that we just didn’t sit around and actually “listen to that garbage we play on our station.” So I’d use a sound effect of a starting lawnmower, then seque into “Stairway to Heaven” and as the song ended, I would fade up the sound of the lawnmower winding down. Then I would breathlessly backsell the record, make a snide comment about the cheap boss, and go to break.
My career was just taking off.
Alas, I hit a pay ceiling in 1980 and was told “that’s all there is.” I opted to go to Indianapolis and help my brother run a grocery store for about 3 months. I was miserable and missed being in broadcasting. Oddly enough, I didn’t miss being on the air, just being around the industry.
I called Louisa Henson at WLRS-FM in Louisville and begged for a job. As luck would have it, the promotions director job was available and I took it. My only request was that I not have to do airshifts any longer because I felt they led to a professional dead end.
Naturally, when one of the WLRS deejays would call in drunk, I was summoned to fill in for them. Then I was persuaded to take the afternoon drive slot in 1981. Not long thereafter, Dan Burgess left to go to WHAS Radio and left a vacancy for a co-host of the morning show with a kind but soured-on-life jaded hippie named Ron Clay.
We formed the “Morning Sickness” show and it became a montrous hit for WLRS. It wasn’t long before arch rival WQMF came calling in December 1982. After a brief negotiation which jumped our salaries from $25,000 to $32,000, we jumped ship.
WLRS filed a lawsuit claiming “verbal agreements” were in place to extend work contracts for both announcers. The lawsuit was mostly dismissed by the judge, thus, Ron Clay and Terry Meiners were allowed to switch to WQMF with the stipulation that there’d be no transfer of the exact sketches or any other intellectual property from the WLRS show to WQMF.
It was the only time the word “intellectual” was ever used in conjunction with the careers of Ron Clay and/or Terry Meiners.
The judge also demanded that the duo not transfer the show’s name, so the new WQMF show was called “The Show With No Name.” The new show commenced in January 1983 and was a dominant player in Louisville radio until Terry Meiners left to take the afternoon drive slot at WHAS Radio in June 1985.
A six month non-competition clause with WQMF kept Terry off of the new station until “The Terry Meiners Show” debuted on December 2, 1985.
The 62nd annual WHAS Crusade for Children brought in $5.6 million for special needs children throughout Kentucky and Indiana.
More than half of the funds are raised through firefighter roadblocks, a tradition started in the 1950s. To date, more than $165 million has been raised to buy equipment and to fund programs to assist special needs children.
The weekend radio/TV broadcast is hosted by iHeartMedia’s WHAS Radio and Gannett’s WHAS-11 television, Crusade partners since the fundraiser’s launch in 1954.
The Crusade for Children thrives on family support. It is an honor to work with my son Max, a director at WHAS-11, on every Crusade. This telethon improves lives and that is a joyous experience best shared with family.
100% of the $5.6 million raised for the WHAS Crusade for Children is being distributed to local agencies, hospitals, and schools. Thank you, Kentuckiana. Here’s the distribution list:
Adair County Board of Education $30,000.00
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. $10,000.00
Americana Community Center, Inc. $8,500.00
Anchorage Independent District $26,880.00
Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. $16,000.00
Archdiocese of Louisville $48,000.00
Asbury University/Learning Library $11,629.55
Asbury University/Scholarships $22,500.00
Baptist Health Foundation Greater Louisville, Inc. $85,000.00
Bardstown Independent Schools $33,000.00
Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center $4,000.00
Bellarmine University/Assessment Clinic $9,500.00
Bellarmine University/Scholarships $10,000.00
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana, Inc. $7,000.00
Bingham Child Guidance Clinic, Inc. $60,305.00
Bluegrass Center for Autism $25,000.00
Boys & Girls Club, Inc. $40,000.00
Boys & Girls Haven/Equine Program $22,600.00
Boys & Girls Haven/Medical Care Team $45,000.00
Boys & Girls Haven/Therapeutic Residential Program $30,000.00
Breckinridge County Board of Education $45,000.00
Bullitt County Board of Education $43,000.00
Burgin Independent Schools $2,000.00
Camp TESSA, Inc. $10,000.00
Campbellsville Board of Education $20,000.00
Capital City Prep $20,000.00
Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital $8,842.00
CASA of South Central Kentucky, Inc. $10,000.00
CASA of the Bluegrass, Inc. $6,000.00
CASA of the River Region $6,000.00
CASA program for Bullitt County, Inc. $12,000.00
Casey County Schools $3,000.00
Caverna Independent School District $7,000.00
Central Ky. Education Cooperative $26,000.00
Cerebral Palsy K.I.D.S. Center $25,000.00
Child Development Centers of the Bluegrass $6,000.00
Christian Academy of Louisville, Inc. $6,250.00
Christian Appalachian Project, Inc. $1,900.00
Clark County Special Education Coop $25,000.00
Clark Memorial Hospital Foundation $34,800.00
Cloverport Independent School District $68,000.00
Communities in Schools of Clark County $13,500.00
Community Action of Southern Indiana $16,000.00
Community Action of Southern Kentucky $14,000.00
Cumberland County Board of Education $5,500.00
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation $10,000.00
Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome $3,000.00
Deaf Youth Sports Festival, Inc. $15,000.00
Dorman Preschool Center $27,000.00
Down Syndrome of Louisville/Development Intervention $8,000.00
Down Syndrome of Louisville/Outreach Program $10,000.00
Down Syndrome of Louisville/Speech $5,175.00
Dreams With Wings $12,500.00
Easter Seals West Kentucky, Inc. $7,000.00
Eastern Kentucky University/Disabilities Clinic $3,000.00
Eastern Kentucky University/Hearing & Impairment $10,000.00
Eastern Kentucky University/Scholarships $15,000.00
Elizabethtown Independent Schools $20,000.00
Eminence Independent Schools $35,000.00
Englishton Park Presbyterian Ministries $8,000.00
EnTECH at Spalding $10,000.00
Exceptional Equitation $4,500.00
Family & Children’s Place $40,500.00
Family Ark $12,500.00
Family Enrichment Center $14,000.00
Family Scholar House, Inc. $18,000.00
FEAT of Louisville, Inc. $15,000.00
Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation $11,000.00
Floyd Memorial Foundation $34,413.00
Franklin County Public Schools $26,000.00
Frazier Rehab Institute $25,791.00
Friends of Open Door Youth Services $10,000.00
Friends School, Inc. $15,000.00
Gilda’s Club Louisville $15,000.00
Grayson County Schools $23,230.00
Greater Clark County Schools $19,800.00
Greater Louisville Rowing Foundation $5,412.00
Green County Board of Education $16,500.00
Green Hill Therapy $15,000.00
Green River Regional Educational Cooperative $10,000.00
Hancock County Public Schools $2,000.00
Hardin County Board of Education $45,000.00
Hardin Memorial Hospital $12,086.00
Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative $18,162.91
Harrison County Board of Education $15,000.00
Harrison County Hospital $14,569.53
Hart County Schools $15,000.00
Henderson County School System $18,000.00
Henry County Public Schools $31,000.00
Heuser Hearing & Language Academy $39,000.00
Home of the Innocents $152,000.00
Hosparus/Kourageous Kids $25,000.00
Hospice of the Bluegrass, Inc. $17,000.00
Indian Summer Camp $12,000.00
Indiana University SE/Lending Library $1,307.70
Indiana University SE/Scholarships $4,800.00
Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS)/Audiology Program $14,000.00
JCPS/Exceptional Child Education (ECE) Assistive Technology Program $60,000.00
JCPS/ECE Autism Program $19,000.00
JCPS/ECE Early Childhood Program $5,692.23
JCPS/ECE Low Incidence Program $20,000.00
JCPS/ECE Materials Resource Center $20,000.00
JCPS/ECE Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy $30,000.00
JCPS/ECE Visually Impaired Program $13,000.00
Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana, Inc. $3,000.00
Kentuckiana Children’s Center $20,000.00
Kentucky Center for the Arts Foundation, Inc. $30,000.00
Kentucky Children’s Hospital $22,500.00
Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation $6,000.00
Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation, Inc. $6,000.00
Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children $3,000.00
Kentucky School for the Deaf $40,000.00
Kosair Children’s Hospital/Cardiac Surgical Instrumentation $74,000.00
Kosair Children’s Hospital/Neurology $119,000.00
Kosair Children’s Hospital/St. Matthews Pediatric Renovations $600,000.00
Kosair Children’s Hospital/Surgery-ENT $61,000.00
Kosair Children’s Hospital/Surgery-Zeiss Eye Microscope $116,000.00
Ky. Center for Special Children Services/Carriage House/Endeavor P $48,000.00
Ky. Center for Special Children Services/Carriage House/Preschool $23,000.00
Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency $2,500.00
LaRue County Public Schools $17,000.00
Learning Disabilities Association of Kentucky $2,250.00
LifeSpring, Inc. $2,270.00
Lighthouse Promise, Inc. $12,000.00
Lincoln Heritage Council, Boy Scouts of America $18,000.00
Louisville Pediatric Therapy Center, Inc. $8,000.00
Marion County Board of Education $13,898.68
Maryhurst, Inc. $34,000.00
Meade County Board of Education $24,000.00
Mercer County Schools $4,000.00
Meredith-Dunn School $19,470.00
Middlesboro Independent Schools $45,000.00
Miracle Dancer Scholarship Foundation, Inc. $4,870.00
Montgomery County School District $40,755.00
Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, Inc. $15,500.00
Muscular Dystrophy Association $14,000.00
Nelson County Schools $38,000.00
New Albany-Floyd County Schools $70,000.00
Newport Independent Schools $15,000.00
Northern Kentucky Children’s Law Center Inc. $12,500.00
Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services $4,800.00
Oldham County Board of Education $28,000.00
Orange County Rehab & Develop Services $23,500.00
Our Lady of Peace $8,000.00
Owen County School District $5,770.00
Owensboro Dance Theatre $5,000.00
Owensboro Health, Inc. $45,000.00
Paris Independent School District $23,000.00
Pathways Youth Shelter $11,000.00
Personal Counseling Service $41,000.00
Pitt Academy $25,000.00
Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries $20,000.00
Puzzle Pieces, Inc. $22,000.00
Rauch, Inc. $17,000.00
Riley Children’s Foundation $10,000.00
Rockcastle Regional Hospital $7,161.88
Russell County Board of Education $30,000.00
Seven Counties Service, Inc. $75,000.00
Shelby County Public Schools $75,000.00
South Central Area Special Education Cooperative $20,000.00
South Central Kentucky Kids on the Block $2,700.00
Southern Hills Counseling Center $12,000.00
Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital $22,000.00
Spalding University/Scholarships $15,000.00
Special Olympics Kentucky, Inc. $14,000.00
Spencer County Public Schools $37,000.00
Spina Bifida Association of Kentucky $16,000.00
St. Francis School $12,000.00
St. Joseph Children’s Home $25,000.00
Summit Academy of Greater Louisville $16,000.00
Sunrise Children’s Services, Inc. $22,000.00
SW Jefferson County School Corp. $10,000.00
Taylor County Board of Education $18,000.00
Telford Community YMCA $10,497.82
The Center for Courageous Kids $18,000.00
The Center for Women and Families, Inc. $10,000.00
The Council on Developmental Disabilities $4,000.00
The de Paul School $23,100.00
The Morton Center $21,000.00
The REATH Center $4,000.00
The Sunshine Center $9,000.00
University of Louisville/Clinical Care $75,000.00
University of Louisville/CMA $4,900.00
University of Louisville/Dentistry $40,000.00
University of Louisville/Division of General Pediatrics $14,833.00
University of Louisville/Hematology-Oncology $13,600.00
University of Louisville/Learning Disorders $80,000.00
University of Louisville/Neurology $158,931.70
University of Louisville/Scholarships $25,000.00
University of Louisville/SPARC $6,000.00
University of Louisville/Weisskopf/STAR Autism $140,000.00
University Medical Center $15,400.00
University of Kentucky Research Foundation $5,000.00
Upside Therapeutic Riding, Inc./Horse Calls $2,160.00
Upside Therapeutic Riding, Inc./Scholarships $8,000.00
Uspiritus, Inc. $80,000.00
Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS)/Bloomington $13,000.00
Volunteers of America of Kentucky, Inc. $31,800.00
VSA Kentucky $14,000.00
Washington County Schools $12,000.00
Wendell Foster’s Campus for Disabilities/Kelly Autism $3,000.00
Wendell Foster’s Campus for Disabilities/Western KY Assistive Technology Center $7,632.00
West Clark Community School $22,500.00
West Point Independent Board of Education $30,000.00
West Washington School Corp. $50,000.00
Western Kentucky University/Early Childhood Ctr. $30,000.00
Western Kentucky University/Kelly Autism Program $18,000.00
Western Kentucky University/Scholarships $22,455.00
Wings for a Prayer, Inc. $2,414.00
Woodford County Public Schools $8,000.00
YMCA of Greater Louisville $13,990.00
YMCA of Greater Louisville-Bullitt County Family Branch $6,000.00
YMCA of Greater Louisville-Safe Place Services $10,240.00
100 percent of $160 million = $160 million
In its first 61 years, the Crusade has raised $160 million for children with special needs. One hundred percent of all donations raised Crusade weekend are returned in the form of grants to agencies, hospitals and schools that make life better for children with special needs.
It takes a cast of thousands to stage the annual miracle. From individual donors dropping pocket change into boots at firefighter road blocks to children with lemonade stands to corporations offering payroll deduction, it all comes together each year on the first weekend in June.
To view a complete list of all groups that made donations to the 61st annual Crusade, go to www.WHASCrusade.org.
To honor a pledge:
Tax-deductible contributions can still be mailed in anytime.
WHAS Crusade for Children
520 W. Chestnut St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Donations can also be made securely online on www.WHASCrusade.org.
About the WHAS Crusade for Children
The WHAS Crusade for Children, established by WHAS-TV in 1954, raises money for agencies, hospitals and schools that make life better for children with special needs. In its first 61 years, the Crusade has raised $160 million. Thanks to generous contributions of goods and services, the Crusade returns 100% of all donations to organizations in all 120 Kentucky counties and more than 50 southern Indiana counties. Fire departments raise nearly 60 percent of the money each year by staging road blocks and hosting other events.
Millions of children have been helped by the Crusade since 1954. The WHAS Crusade for Children, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Gifts are tax-deductible as permitted by law.
The staff of 84WHAS Radio recorded A Christmas Carol, including lines from syndicated radio superstar Rush Limbaugh. Milton Metz narrates. Here’s part one:
CAST: Rush Limbaugh (solicitor), Milton Metz (narrator), Wayne Perkey (Ebeneezer Scrooge), Terry Meiners (Bob Cratchit), Van Vance (Jacob Marley’s ghost), Jane Norris (Christmas past ghost), Joe Donovan (Christmas present ghost), Joe Elliot (Christmas Yet to Come ghost), Fred Wiche (nephew Fred), Laura Shirley (Mrs. Cratchit), Ken Schulz (Peter), Mary Jeffries (Belle), Beth Merrill (Martha Cratchit), Frederick Speck (Tiny Tim), Brian Rublein (1st man), John Asher (2nd man), Skip Essick (Joe), Tony Cruise (man), Christopher Holcombe (1st boy), Edward Pratt (2nd boy), and Sara Greiling (3rd boy. — Directed by David Holland — Produced by Scott Goettel — special thanks to Louisville Youth Choir, conducted by Donna Barnett and conducted by Frank Heller. Thanks to WHAS engineers Charlie Strickland, Larry Baysinger, and Harry Sonnheim. All proceeds from sales went to the WHAS Crusade for Children. Thanks to Taylor Drug Stores for distribution. (1994)
Merry Christmas from 84WHAS Radio, Louisville, Kentucky, USA