Original Staff Member Recalls Early Days of WJLE

April 18, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Original staff member Elaine Rigsby visits WJLE Thursday
Elaine Rigsby, one of the original WJLE Staff members in 1964
Aaron Durham, the first manager of WJLE in 1964
Jim (Bud) Dearman, one of the early staff members at WJLE
Dale Williams, one of the early staff members at WJLE

An original staff member of WJLE paid a visit Thursday to share a few photographs and memories of her time working here when the station went on the air for the first time 50 years ago this month.

Elaine Rigsby worked as a secretary and announcer for WJLE from 1964 to 1966 and then returned in 1968 for a short stint as General Manager. "We signed on the air in April 1964 and I worked here at the time that we signed on the air. Aaron Durham was the General Manager. I was the secretary. I also did a thirty minute or a one hour show and then I helped do the news and things like that," said Rigsby.

At the time it signed on the air, WJLE was an AM station only. The FM station was added in the early 1970's.

Although she had no previous broadcasting experience, Rigsby found the work enjoyable. "I had never been involved with radio. I was working in Nashville at Ralston Purina and I found out they were opening a radio station. I just came out and applied for a secretary's job. He (Durham) said I want you to read a commercial for me. I read it and he called me later and told me I had the job. I really enjoyed it. We all did different things. Aaron sold the ads and we all taped commercials. We did anything we had to do. It was fun. We learned a lot. Mr. Durham was really smart and he had a great voice. His brother Hal was the voice of the Grand Ole Opry," she said. Aaron Durham later became owner and operator of WAKI in McMinnville.

Unlike most radio stations today that program one format, Rigsby said WJLE had block programming featuring a different kind of music with each dee jay show. "We played everything. Mine was easy listening. Tommy Miller (Jet Daddy) played rock. Aaron played all kinds. We had Gospel shows and of course we had the ministers on the air like you do now," she said.

In addition to Durham and Miller, Rigsby said some of the other announcers she worked with were Jim (Bud) Dearman, Dale Williams, Jack Atnip, and Ralph Vaughn.

As she reminisced, Rigsby recalled some happy and not so happy occasions which took place here back in those days. "An interesting thing, Dale Williams was one of the first announcers and he got married on the air in one of the rooms (studios)".

"I also remember When Dr. Vanhoosier passed away, Mr. Durham talked to the family and they agreed there were so many people who would want to come to the funeral that there wouldn't be room for them in the church so they did a LIVE feed of his service on the air".

"One year at a staff Christmas party, they had taken all the goofs we had made on commercials and played them back for laughs," she said.

Today, Rigsby works part time in the law office of Margie Rigsby Miller.

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WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

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