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WOKE Radio 1340
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|This site was created by and is managed by Charleston radio archivist John Quincy. A special thank you to Wally Momeier, Jeff Flowers, Jackson Douglas, Chris Holman, John Busbee, Richard Erickson, Robert James and Gil Kirkman for their contributions of WOKE audio and images.|
WOKE was a radio station like no other in Charleston -- perhaps in the state of South Carolina. Owned and managed by the late Harry C. Weaver, WOKE injected its airwaves with an unusual variety of "good music", sports, paid religion, frequent, extended weather reports, and generous doses of dead air. Listening to WOKE was like going back in time. Even in the early 1990s, WOKE sounded like it hadn't changed since the early 1960s, complete with corny-as-heck jingles and stilted-sounding announcers.
Retired newspaper editor and Charleston radio buff J. Douglas Donehue said this about WOKE's GM and owner: "He went under the names of Harry Weaver, Buck Clayton and Tennessee Weaver. He wanted people to think he actually had three different announcers, even though they all sounded the same. Harry had the lowest overhead in the market."
Who can forget Harry Weaver's editorials with their Les Nessman-style intros and closes? How about the Saturday afternoon sports scoreboards? The Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Sunday afternoon? And what about that Will Kit commercial?
WOKE is no more. The station was sold to Charleston advertising agency owner (and former WOKE employee) Gil Kirkman in November of 1994. The format changed to all-sports and the call letters became WQSC. The aging equipment and studios were abandoned, and several years later WOKE's vast record library was auctioned off. The Sam Rittenburg Boulevard building that housed WOKE's studios and offices since 1976 was completely remodeled and became a State Farm Insurance office in 1999. Harry C. Weaver passed away in 2001. (Read his obituary.) But WOKE is fondly remembered here.
|Today the WOKE call letters belong to a religious-formatted FM station licensed to Garrison, Kentucky. When you consider the amount of religious programming that WOKE in Charleston carried, as well as Mr. Weaver's strong faith in God, I bet Harry would be happy about where his beloved call letters landed.|
WOKE Excerpt from "Charleston On The Air:
Then there was Harry Weaver, also know as "Buck Clayton" and "Tennessee" Weaver, owner of
WHAN (which later became WOKE and remained WOKE until Weaver sold the station in the mid-1990s). Weaver, who bought WHAN from J.B. Fuqua of Augusta, was the only station owner in Charleston who was also an on-air personality. He took over the morning show on his station from Jeff Warner, whose real name was Elmo Litchfield. Weaver is well remembered for his poetry readings, which he did each evening on WOKE just before the station signed off the air.
Ned Webb recalls with delight the way Weaver handled the calls that came in to Scoreboard Show. "You could only heard one side of the calls," said Web. "You could not hear the caller who wanted a score. Weaver would say: 'Hello, Wonderful WOKE Football Scoreboard. Who? Oh, yes Michigan. Let's see now. Yes. Here it is. They won 24-12.' He wouldn't say which team Michigan was playing. I once heard him say 'Hello. Wonderful WOKE Football Scoreboard. Yes. Okay. New Mexico State. Let's see now. Okay, we have a partial score on our Wonderful WOKE Football Scoreboard. New Mexico State 18. Thanks for calling."
In the WOKE promo, which describes the station as Charleston's number two radio station, Evans paused ever so slightly and then said "We must be number two. All of the others say they are number one." Of all the station promos with the possible exception of WCSC's "1390 since 1930," Weaver's claim that WOKE was number two stands out this day as one of the most original and effective radio promos in the history Charleston radio.
WOKE also doggedly stuck to its heavy schedule of sports, broadcasting play-by-play accounts of University of South Carolina and Clemson football and basketball games. The station even picked up network feeds of games played by the University of Alabama, Tennessee and Notre Dame. The audience for these games was extremely limited.
WOKE had the longest running telephone scoreboard show of any in Charleston. It was on the air each Saturday afternoon during football season for more than 30 years. Harry Weaver, the station owner, was the host of the show, of which he was immensely proud.
Note: J. Douglas Donehue passed away October 11, 2006. He was a true friend of Charleston radio.
"My first job when I got out of the Navy in 1970 was working weekends and nights at WOKE. I endured the Saturday afternoon football scoreboard as the board operator while Harry Weaver and Jeff Warner read the scores and bantered with each other. Sunday afternoon and evenings were filled with local church preachers, musicians, and other religious programming. (Harry was a long-time member of First Baptist Church and a deacon at that historic church).
"The hardest job I had was trying to sell air time - our Arbitron ratings were not the best in the market so selling air time was next to impossible, especially trying to get new accounts.
"With its sale, it was truly the passing of an era. I've never met anyone like Harry Weaver either before or after (though I suspect there are always a few like him out there in the hinterlands somewhere).
"I left the station in 1972, just before I graduated from Baptist College (now Charleston Southern University). Fond memories of some great years in Charleston." - Rev. Bob Gillchrest
John Bledsoe Checks In
"I am enjoying immensely the WHAN/WOKE
page and the photos. I was familiar with the station from its beginning.
The photo at the top of your display is a much younger Harry Weaver,
soon after his arrival in Charleston. The announcer in all of the other
pictures is Traynor Ferrillo. The various others in the photos, I
believe, are participants in the many live shows that originated at the
A Letter From A WOKE Announcer
"What a delight it was to find your tribute page to WOKE Radio and Harry Weaver. My name is John Busbee, and I worked as an announcer (Mr. Weaver did not like the moniker "disc jockey") at WOKE from 1979 to 1981 as co-host of "Carolina In The Morning." I think I still hold the distinction of being the youngest morning show host in the country, as I had just turned 15 years old when I began my duties as morning show host.
"Mr. Weaver had undergone heart bypass surgery in 1979, and his doctors had advised him against working the long hours he had been, doing the morning show from 4:55am to 10am, followed by a full business day as station owner/general manager, and then working many local play by play sports broadcasts in the evenings. It was during this time that this 15 year old high school student got the offer of a lifetime!
"Mr. Weaver and his wife Ruth called me in to his office, and asked me if I would be willing to share the morning show duties with Mr. Weaver. Here's how it worked: I would sign on the station at 4:55a, and do the morning show through the 7:00 a.m. news at which time Buck Clayton (Mr. Weaver) would take over. I would then leave for high school, having to be there at 7:45a. Saturday I had the whole show 4:55a-10a, and also came back Saturday evening to work 6pm to sign off. I couldn't believe my good fortune!
"I did this for two years until leaving in August 1981 for college. Longtime evening announcer Dave Bannon replaced me when I left Charleston, and remained as co-host with Mr. Weaver of the morning show until the station was sold in 1994.
"I will be forever grateful to Mr. Weaver and Wally for giving me the experience as a teen that opened many doors for me later in life that otherwise would have been closed.
"After WOKE I was a master control switcher
for CNN Headline News (then CNN2) and WBFS-TV in Miami, and even was a
Director/Technical Director at WATL-TV in Atlanta in the early and
mid-eighties. In 1982 (at the age of 18) I was directing 3 hours of
financial news at WATL a day, and the Atlanta Falcons post game show on
Sundays in 1984-85. My last TV job was with Miami Video and Post in 1986-87
(camera and tape op) shooting commercials. I did the Spanish language Publix
supermarket weekly ads for MVP, but hated it, and went back to radio at WWBF
in Bartow, FL as morning show host/news director from Summer '87 to Summer
'88 which was my last radio gig – and my first and only experience with a
“real” slide pot audio board In May 1988, I got a 'real' job with the NRPC
(Amtrak) and am still there today." - John Busbee, Chicago
July 1981 Charleston News & Courier Article
John Busbee (WOKE announcer 1979-1981) tells us the "secrets" behind how WOKE's music played on the air WOKE:
There were 72 carts [continuous loop tape
cartridges]: 36 yellow 5-minute carts (Numbered 1-36) which were the "Hits
and Gold Records of Today." In actuality, since new music that fit the WOKE
criteria was in short supply by 1981, a lot of it was music of the past
several (1-10) years.
A WOKE Engineer Remembers
"Right after I went to work at Channel 5
I also got a call from Harry Weaver asking if I could do his engineering
work. Being new to the area and not making a lot of money, I was certainly
interested. I did a lot of nighttime announcing shifts and weekend work
for him too. His staff was always short somebody so I worked in very well.
"The whole operation was set up for a Saturday and signoff was arranged for 6:00 p.m. Signoff, remove the old monstrosity, and install the Gates Yard -- simple. Well, just to talk about it, yes. Doing it, though, turned out to be a memorable occasion.
"As the time of signoff arrived, I went to work. Well, the first thing I found out was that the audio racks contained 110 volts AC in certain audio jacks. Already I was nervous, and very cautious about everything now -- I mean really cautious. Well, let's get going. The day was as hot as I had ever seen since being here. Anyway I was by myself. It had to be done -- no second set of eyes or hands -- just me. Needless to say I can't forget that AC in the racks. Oh what the hell -- let's do it.
"I traced as far as I could and finally found what I perceived to be the audio line from the present behemoth monster just waiting to be freed. I reached into the rack with the side cutters to free up the line. At the very precise instance I cut the wires, a SCE&G pole transformer blew all to hell at the back window, showering the place with flying glass. The gigantic flash...the smell...all caused by the side cutters and me. Well, there was nothing else to do. I knew I had blown up half or maybe even more of Market Street.
"For an hour I sat, not knowing who to call, what kind of story to make up. This was to this point one of the lowest points in my life. I had no idea what to do. Finally after almost two hours, here comes a SCE&G expert up the stairs to see if anything was burning. They said they would change out the transformer by 11:00pm. I just locked the door and left.
"I had to go back at sign on and hook up wires to the old console. Mr. Buck Clayton thought it was the most hilarious episode he had ever heard." -- Walt Mouring, Charleston
Letters From WOKE Listeners
"This is a good
Website. I lived in Charleston between 1979 and 1981 and I enjoyed WOKE
in the mornings especially.
"I am so thrilled to have found this Website. I grew up on James Island and remember listening to WOKE radio in the mornings when my parents would have it tuned in in the kitchen during the 70s. Seems like there was a jingle with a rooster crowing. And you could always count on Tennessee Weaver broadcasting Georgia Football on Saturdays!
"While at the College of Charleston and late-night cramming for exams, I'd like to take a break and listen to the Sign-Off at night. That seemed to bring me some tranquility in what I then thought was a stressful time in my life. I even taped the WOKE Sign-Off knowing that one day that unique and special radio station would be gone and I wouldn't be able to hear these things. Well, the radio station did go away as all good things must end, and in the hustle and bustle of life I lost my cassette tape of WOKE Radio broadcast recordings.
"It was really moving for me to listen to Mr. Weaver sign off for the last time on your sound clips page. I had never heard that before. It brought a tear to my eye. I never had the honor of meeting him though I feel like he's family.
"It is funny how things like that become important to me as I get older. A man like Harry Weaver is an inspiration to me. He was a Christian that found a career where he had his heart and soul dedicated to it. What a blessed life he had.
"I just want to say a
from-the-heart thank you for this Website that captures the sounds that
I grew fond of while growing up in this special part of America.
"What a wonderful Web site. I so miss Tennessee Weaver and his ramblings about Bigfoot with the animal sounds in the background. The world could do with a bit more corn.
"Are there any cassettes of 'Moon Dreams In Miniature' and the sort of poetry readings that Buck read late at night, you know - 'Dream on, drift on, with moon dreams...' Gosh, if I had only been thinking I'd have recorded the show through the years. It was always topical because it never changed." -- R.T. Shepherd (April 10, 2005)
"Thanks so much for this Website! I grew up in Mount Pleasant and thought I was the only person nutty enough to love WOKE. I now live in Raleigh, NC, and all the stations are canned and boring. I have a dream: With the advent of satellite radio, local stations will go back to being truly local. Wouldn't that be great?" -- Bill DuPre, Raleigh, NC (January 26, 2006)
"We lived in Mt. Pleasant from 1972-1976 when I was in high school. I was a big Buck Clayton fan, and was very happy to come across your Web tribute to WOKE. I was particularly thrilled to hear the jingles, as I have been humming them for the past 30+ years!" -- Paul Anagnostos, Boston, MA (April 15, 2006)
"I have visited your WOKE memorial website. I was raised in Charleston, and I used to listen to WOKE late nights -- especially Moon Dream. At one point, I personally visited the station and spoke with one of the DJs, thinking about the possibility of applying for a position there myself. Well....my life went in a different direction. But I still remember WOKE. It was unique among radio stations. Listening was like taking a trip back in a time machine. You could listen to 1950s-style broadcasting in the 1980s.
"I very much regret that -- years ago -- I did not do back then what I had considered doing at the time, namely: recording all of the Moon Dream episodes while they were still on the air. The DJ that I spoke to in the WOKE studio back in the late '70 or early '80s showed me the full-sized tape reel which contained all of the Moon Dream shows that Mr. Weaver ever did. I wonder if that same reel of tape is still in existence somewhere today? Perhaps someone bought the tape back when the station closed for business. I'd be interested to find out. Hey -- I'd gladly buy that tape reel from them. Mr. Weaver recorded all of the Moon Dream shows sometime back in the late '50s and/or early '60s. Then he just played the same shows over and over again for many years thereafter.
"Thanks again for
running such a great site. The website is an honor to Mr. Weaver's
memory, as well as to the radio station that was his career."
Robert James, NC (October 8, 2006)
"I am very glad to find this site. It has brought some fond memories of my youth in the '70s and early '80s.
"I used to enjoy Radio Mystery Theater at night. I had a multiband radio by my bed and I would have it turned down low so my parents in the next room could not hear. I liked Moon Dreams and sign off too. I also loved Carolina in the Morning. I always got a kick out of Buck Clayton and his Barnyard Menagerie.
"I always wanted to meet Mr. Weaver and tell him how much I enjoyed these programs and the music." -- Stephen Ellis (November 16, 2007)
"We lived in Summerville 1987-1999 and I would listen to Buck Clayton on the way to work in the mornings. Originally from the Houston, TX area, I recognized WOKE as unique and a throwback to an earlier time in radio. That uniqueness is what made WOKE worth listening to.
"Sometime right after Hugo hit the area I dropped by the WOKE studio in response to the 'will kit' pitch that was often played. Mr. Weaver was there and we had a brief discussion about how Hugo had destroyed the transmitter tower. He was clearly upset about the damage, but was nevertheless very courteous to me during the visit.
"There will never be another Wonderful WOKE but thank you for providing this website and taking former listener comments." -- Ernie Battle (June 26, 2010)
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