June has been a busy and lively month for the folks at local AM station 1250 WTMA. Two weeks ago, the station celebrated hitting the 20-year mark in continuous news/talk format, (it switched from an short-lived all-country, mostly satellite-fed format to news/talk on June 1, 1989), and the staff geared up for the remarkable birthday this week.
WTMA received official honors from the local and state levels last week as well when Gov. Mark Sanford and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley simultaneously declared June 15 as "WTMA Day."
On the locally-produced morning show The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd, which airs on weekdays from 6-10 p.m., the host sounded practically giddy with excitement over the last week as he promoted the station's planned anniversary events. In recent days, just back from vacation, Todd chattered over the mics with WTMA producer John Quincy, co-host and news director Fred Storey, commentator Jack Hunter (City Paper's own weekly Southern Avenger columnist), and a slew of on-air callers, and special guests from WTMA colorful past — all of whom shared memories and reminisced with listeners who called in.
As a veteran of the local radio scene going way back before the Morning Buzz days, Quincy is also the station's tireless archivist and website man. The audio clips of old jingles he assembled from interviews are especially amusing and informative at the archive web site wtmamemories.com.
A crowd of longtime listeners, fans who won passes over the air, dedicated station staffers, and current and retired WTMA on-air personalities packed into the elegant Three Lions Pub at Blackbaud Stadium for the Big Talker's birthday bash today (Sat. June 20) from noon to 2 p.m. Todd and Quincy greeted guests at the entrance, while Rocky D (host of the midday of the locally-produced Radio-Free Rocky D show), and other 'TMA characters mingled with guests in the main bar room.
Former announcer Bob "Booby" Nash — one of the stations more popular DJs in the late' 60s and '70s — gave an amusing "invocation," in which he prayed for Rocky D's mental health and welfare and laughed happily about the day's occasion. Dan Moon, another beloved veteran from the 1980s and '90s, gave a spirited speech touching on how strange it seemed to him when the station flipped to a news/talk format in 1989 (he remained as a morning host with WTMA through the Hurricane Hugo years until 2003).
Owned and operated by the national company Citadel Broadcasting, WTMA also features syndicated talk shows hosted by Neal Boortz, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jim Bohannon, and Phil Hendrie, among other weekend specialty shows.
From their earliest days transmitting from the top of the Dock Street Theatre and the years crammed into the small office building on Orange Grove Road in West Ashley to its modern-day headquarters up on Faber Place Drive in North Charleston, WTMA seems confident and ready for another 70.