Ed Carter: Former WJSO-AM / WJHL-TV Personality Shared Prized Memories
My favorite television announcer at WJHL over the years was Ed Carter. He later moved to WIS television in Columbia, SC. Within two years, Tennessee Eastman Company relocated me to Columbia where I found, to my surprise and delight, Ed on local TV again.
This past year, I desired to do an article about Ed but could not locate him. Fortunately, two former WJSO radio personalities, Don Dale and Ray Stockard, provided me with his e-mail address. Ray sent Ed a copy of my last April’s WJSO feature story that appeared in the Johnson City Press. Ed was delighted to correspond with me and willingly provided answers to a questionnaire that I sent him.
Recalling his first meeting with Ed, Don said that he had just been hired by the radio station and reported to work early one Sunday morning. Before he came on the air, he developed laryngitis and couldn't speak a word. At 5 a.m., he rushed to the residence of Hugh Metheny, another station announcer, to wake him up and ask him to come to the station. He was a heavy sleeper and Don nearly woke the entire neighborhood by banging on his door. Finally, he responded and returned with Don to the station.
The next weekend Don worked with Eddie Carter, as he was known then, to “baby-sit” with the new hiree in case he had any problems. Don noted how patient Ed was with him, even after Don started playing the hit tune, "Baby It's You" by the Shirelles who sounded like an all-bass singing group. It seems that Don had inadvertently put a 45-rpm record on the turntable and played it at 33.3-rpm speed.
Listed below are 12 selected questions and answers that Ed graciously provided for the interview:
1. Did you attend any schools in Johnson City or surrounding area? “Yes, I attended ETSU majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. A job offer in Columbia, SC interrupted my studies and I did not graduate.”
2. What was the first radio station that you worked? “WETS at ETSU. My first commercial job was at WHCC in Waynesville, NC.”
3. How many radio stations employed you in the Johnson City area? “Only WJSO.”
4. What years were you at WJSO? “Actually, I worked there twice. The first time was 1960 to 1961. I left to take a job at a station in Charleston, WV but returned to WJSO in early 1963 after a stint at WIL radio in St. Louis.”
5. Who were some of the people you worked with at WJSO? “Ray Stockard, Norm Davis, Don Dale, Charlie Knox, Toby Pennington and Bill Harris.”
6. During what years did you work at WJHL? “I joined the staff there in 1964 or 65 and left in the summer of 1972 to take a job as the 11 p.m. anchor at WIS-TV in Columbia. SC. Later, I worked at a station in Charleston but soon returned to WIS.”
7. Who were some of your co-workers at WJHL? “Bob Lewis, Don Bagwell, Don Garland and Pat Sweeney.”
8. Which medium did you enjoy the most, radio or television? “Radio was the most fun because it was a freer medium that left more room for creativity. However, television was more satisfying because it gave me opportunity to deal with serious issues and, while the work was more restrictive than my work in radio, it was more fulfilling.”
9. Had you not gone into radio and television, what career would you likely have pursued? “Probably a custom car builder.”
10. Can you recall any funny stories about your time on WJSO radio? “Toby Pennington and I did a two-man show for awhile. We did a lot of comedy bits and one day we did a bit on a southern sheriff. Unfortunately, when we did it, a heated sheriff's race was underway in the county. Our general manager did not see the humor in it and rushed into the control room asking if that was on the air. When we said that it was, he just turned and walked out of the control room shaking his head.
“Toby and I also did a most creative endeavor that featured a running soap opera with Grandma Gurtlegluts. We also utilized a time machine with sound effects that allowed us to perform comedy spots based on actual historical events.”
“Another vivid memory concerned my working the Sunday morning shift. Reverend Tommy Oler was a local preacher who delivered a live weekly sermon over the radio. I remember turning the mike volume all the way down and he still pegged the needle as he preached and leaped three feet in the air to make his point. I recall it was the station's policy to collect the broadcast fee before putting any preacher on the air.”
11. Can you recall any funny stories about your time on WJHL. “Bob Lewis was a terrific mimic and once at a gathering of newsroom employees and their families, Bob imitated each of us. I was heavily into bodybuilding at the time so when Bob became me, he displayed a pompous character who walked around with his lats (latissimus dorsi) spread all the time. It was hilarious. I had no idea how ridiculous I looked until I saw Bob's impression.”
12. What are you the most proud of concerning your broadcasting years? “First, I worked very hard at keeping my opinions out of the news and presenting an unbiased newscast. I think by and large I succeeded. And second, I always saw my job as taking complex issues and presenting them in an understandable way without over-simplifying them. I recall the day after one aired, an official I had interviewed told me that a colleague of his had said that watching the documentary was the first time he understood the issue. I’ve always taken a lot of satisfaction from that.”
Ed asked me to tell his WJHL and WJSO fans “hello” for him; he thoroughly enjoyed serving them. I wish to thank Ed, Don and Ray for making this article possible.