The silence was broken on March 29, 1946 — just minutes before 7 a.m. — when radio station WMVG in Milledgeville went on the air.
Don Frost did the station sign on. Bill Bullington did five minutes of news at the top of the hour. Next came live talent: a group of local singers followed by a 15-minute segment from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and then the Novelty Quints. Bill Bloodworth hosted the Coffee Pot Parade from 8:15 until 9:15. Listeners could win movie tickets and records.
And so it went until sign off at 11 p.m. on the first day at WMVG and has continued for 75 years: music, news, sports and information wrapped around mostly local advertising.
The commercials on that first day included Lawrence's Flowers, Elliot's Service, Joiner's Market, Butts Drug Store and Chandler Stores.
We know all of this thanks to the nostalgia of Bill Moody. He was not there on that first day in 1946, but he joined the station two years later as a 13-year-old eighth-grader at GMC. Moody, now 86, continued working at the station through high school.
Several years after the station's debut, Moody said program manager Mike Landy — who later became station owner — was throwing out some of the older daily program logs. Moody asked to have the first day as a keepsake, and it had been in a filing cabinet at his Monticello, Fla., home until recently.
Moody also had other mementoes, including hand-written notes from a Union-Recorder reporter on what happened at the frequency and equipment tests the day before the debut and the prayer of dedication for the fledging radio station given by the rector of St. Stephens Episcopal Church. The notes also indicated that Jere Moore, who was the first owner of WMVG as well as being Union Recorder editor and publisher, gave a speech.
Moody wanted the current owner of WMVG to have the items, so he sent them to his brother, Milledgeville resident Richard Moody, who gave them to WMVG announcers Scott MacLeod and Randy Beasley. They planned to pass them along to the Oconee Radio Group head K.J. Allen.
WMVG (104.5 FM and 1450 AM) is celebrating its 75th anniversary with on-air slogans (WMVG, your hometown station for 75 years) and special ad packages for local clients. ("Congratulations to WMVG on its diamond anniversary," says Dana Leary of Edward Jones.)
CLAIM TO FAME
As a GMC student, Bill Moody didn't have far to go to get to the WMVG studio on the second floor of the Old Capitol Building. One of his first jobs, though, was to help set up equipment at Milledgeville churches for Sunday-morning broadcasts. At 13, he had to call a cab to get to work.
But the job he remembers most is pulling shifts at the WMVG transmission building at the end of Jefferson Street on the banks of Fishing Creek. He'd show up at 3 p.m. and stay there until 11 when the station signed off. Somebody had to be at the building to make meter readings every 30 minutes.
During most of the time he was at the transmission building, he didn't have to say anything. The programming was pre-recorded, so all he had to do was roll things at the right time and put the commercials in. A lot of the programming in the evenings was supplied by the U.S. Armed Forces.
"The Air Force, Army and Navy had their own programming branches," Moody said.
It was, after all, just a few years after the end of World War II. Being a GMC student was as close to actually being in the military "as you could possibly imagine. If mom and dad wanted me to go with them to visit relatives in Union Point, Ga., I'd have to get special written leave from the commandant," Moody said.
But there were times, of course, when an Armed Forces program didn't come in, or something ran short, so Moody would get his own 15-minute segment to close out the night. He had backup albums — maybe Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby — to use in emergencies. Or he could magically become Wolfman Jack and talk on-air himself — mainly to the then all-girl student body at GSCW.
"I became known as that good-looking kid on the air from 10:45 until 11," Moody said, laughing. "All those girls … and I was the guy on the radio."
After he left WMVG and high school at GMC, he went to college and became an engineer at Texas Instruments when they were big into U.S. Defense Department work.
"I can't tell you what I did," he said with a smile, adding something about it still being classified.
He later got back into some commercial broadcasting at radio stations in Georgia.
"I used to tell people that anybody can talk on the radio, but not everybody can fix it," Moody said.
Moody still takes tremendous pride in his work and that of his colleagues at WMVG 70 years ago. He mentioned talented broadcasters and engineers such as Frost, Bloodworth, Harry Hunter, Joe Boone, George Echols and Robbie Hattaway.
"There was a lot of pride at the station," Moody said, "and we did a lot of programming with local talent. A local policeman had a country music band that would play in the mornings several days a week. They'd come and play in the GMC auditorium."
And there was Bill Moody, still in high school, right in the middle of it all.
The big time as a teenager?
"Oh yeah," he said. "I wouldn't change anything. It was my 10 minutes of fame.”
Reach Millians at firstname.lastname@example.org.