Thank you Michelle Heron

October 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

I hear it every day.  “You news media people are too liberal,” or “too conservative,” or “too negative,” “too sensational,” “dishonest,” misleading,” and many others.  We’re hiding the truth, we’re telling too much, we’re stirring the pot, we’re missing the real story….we’re just plain evil.

I’m used to it by now.  We’re human, we make mistakes, and despite our best efforts, I’m not 100% proud of our output each day.  Unlike my younger days, when there were three networks, a couple of wire services and a few weekly news magazines, today’s news media is crowded with names like Huffington, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, Inside Edition, Fox News, MSNBC, TMZ and the rest.  Some are trustworthy, others not so much. Some people even get their news from Facebook posts, which is really frightening.

So, like it or not, those of us who work in news are lumped in the same barrel with folks who aren’t good journalists, and in some cases not very good people.  That’s why I’m not surprised when I contact someone about doing a story, and their immediate response is, “Are you going to make us look bad?”

That’s why I’m sharing a brief story that was written by Michelle Heron, a young reporter who has worked the night shift at WRCB for about a year now.  Monday, she was sent to interview officials in Meigs County about a mold problem in the courthouse.  Register of Deeds Janie Stiner agreed to be interviewed, and the story ran Monday night on the late news.  That’s all in a day’s work.  But for those of you who think news reporters are heartless and uncaring, please red Michelle’s account of what happened before the interview.  I work with some good people, even if they are part of that “evil media” you hear about all the time. Michelle will take it from here:

Michelle Heron

Michelle Heron

Some people just touch your heart.  I met this woman today on a story. She had about an hour of notice that I was coming.  Within minutes of meeting her, I knew she was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.  She was extremely nervous about being interviewed, which is normal.  She didn’t know what to expect: the types of questions, and she didn’t want to look bad on TV.

She said, “People are going to think I look dumb with this pink streak in my hair.” While I thought it was a little odd for someone of her age to have pink hair, I quickly told her she had nothing to worry about, as I was adjusting the camera.  It was at that moment, she opened up.

Janie Stiner

Janie Stiner

“It’s October,” she said. “I’m doing this for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I’m fighting breast cancer.”  Suddenly, the settings on my camera were no longer important.  I couldn’t believe she was worried about what others would think, with all of the other things she’s facing.

The more I listened to her story, I heard what she wasn’t saying: the struggles, the fears and the pain that come with the diagnosis.

I hope this woman and the thousands of others facing the same battle never feel embarrassed for what they are going through. Rock that pink hair, Janie.  Never be embarrassed about your fight.

Best touchdown of the week: Logan Pickett of Heritage High!

October 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm

loganpickett2This is an easy one!  Kudos to the Heritage Generals of Catoosa County and the state’s top-ranked Cartersville Hurricanes.  Friday night at Heritage, with Cartersville leading 42-0 near the end of the game, a beautiful thing happened.  Logan Pickett scored the Generals’ first and only touchdown of the night. Look at that photo.  Certainly, the Heritage kids are happy.  But do you see # 4 for Cartersville, running back Tiamon Pennyman?  He had a great night, but it looks like his happiest moment was watching Logan score for Heritage!

Heritage Coach EK Slaughter told me, “Logan IS HHS. He is a selfless servant that helps football, basketball, and tennis. He loves our students and ALWAYS has a smile on his face! He never misses a day and never asks for anything in return. He is a great example for our young men on how to have a great attitude and love others around you. He is GREAT!” Logan was brought into the program by former coach Tim James, and Slaughter says, “We’re blessed to have him.”

18-year-old Logan is autistic, and serves as a Generals team manager (football and basketball), making sure the players get plenty of water.  From the reactions I’ve seen on Facebook, he is certainly Heritage’s most beloved student.  On the sidelines, he loves to get fans fired up, saying, “I like to act a little wild.” Friends describe him as a huge Tennessee Vols fan.  He loves Peyton Manning, and Peyton’s current team, the Denver Broncos.


loganpickettHis mother Danielle wrote this on the team’s page:  “For those of you who don’t know who this is, you are missing out! This is HHS Footballs biggest fan and tonight he is a player….. #7 Logan Pickett. He scored our only touchdown of the night against Cartersville. He is an amazing young man with the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. He is a senior this year and tonight he was a captain for our football team, but he will forever be captain of our hearts. We love you Logan Pickett.”

From Gillis-Gilliland Titus: “There are no words to describe the abundance of emotions going through our hearts as we watch our #7 run that touchdown!!! Logan you brought the house down, not a dry eye I don’t think! You are such an inspiration to all those who are blessed to know you, you’ve touched so many lives!”

Michael Lea summed it up well:  “Sometimes football games are more than just games. Sometimes the scoreboard does not tell the story. Sometimes what appears to be a defeat is in fact still a great victory. That is what you see here… a unified gain void of rivalry and contention but rich in sportsmanship and love. Love not for winning a game but for the triumph of the human spirit and giving to another. Way to go Heritage Generals… Way to go Cartersville Canes… Way to go Logan Pickett!

Next time you go to a Heritage football or basketball game, be sure to cheer for the Generals, but especially for Logan Pickett.  He’s the heart and soul of that school, and now he’s added a touchdown to his long list of achievements.  I’m hoping for some big wins by the Vols and Broncos this weekend, in honor of Logan!

Happy 80th to “The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis

September 30, 2015 at 1:33 am
Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, with Elvis Presley at the piano. Sun Records, Dec. 4, 1956

Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, with Elvis Presley at the piano. Sun Records, Dec. 4, 1956

Imagine being a fly on the wall at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 4, 1956.  In the iconic photo above, you see Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.  Elvis had already hit it big that year, while his three friends were still on the way up.  As their legends grew, they would come to be known as “The Million Dollar Quartet,” and there’s even a successful musical that documents the era (it will be in Chattanooga next March).

If anyone had placed bets that day on which of them would still be standing (and performing) in 2015, I doubt anyone would have put their money on Jerry Lee.  Even then, at 21, he was a wild child who lived fast.  Within a few months, he would have the two big hits for which he’s best known: “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.” Mild by today’s standards, they were scandalous in the innocent 1950s.  You’ve seen what Miley Cyrus does on network TV.  In 1957, many stations banned Jerry Lee’s first hit because of words like “Now, let’s get down real low one time now, Shake, baby, shake, All you gotta do, honey, is kinda stand in one spot, Wiggle around just a little bit, that’s when you got it, yeah.”  Nobody would blink an eye these days!

If you were around then, or if you’ve seen the 1989 movie “Great Balls of Fire” with Dennis Quaid, you know the rest.  He married his 13-year-old cousin Myra in 1958 (he was 23 at the time), and that didn’t go over well.  Radio stopped playing his songs, and by the time folks forgot about the marriage scandal, the Beatles had taken over the American music scene, and Jerry Lee’s style of music had faded.  He later switched to country music, and never quit playing the clubs.

His personal life, well chronicled in Rick Bragg’s recent book, “Jerry Lee Lewis, His Own Story” has been controversial to say the least.  Seven wives, six children, and lots of tragedy.  Two of the children died young, and a few of the wives died, let’s say, mysteriously.  I highly recommend Bragg’s book.  I doubt you’ll ever read about anyone who’s had a more interesting life, in a chaotic kind of way.

Here are my two favorite Jerry Lee stories.  One is about the origin of his nickname, “The Killer.”  I always thought it had something to do with style of piano playing.  Nobody ever said he was a piano’s best friend.  As you’ll see in the video below (or the ones linked above), he punished those keys.  But actually, the nickname comes from his school days.  According to Bragg’s book, Jerry Lee showed up for school one fall day, and sat down in the 7th grade classroom.  There was one problem: he had failed 6th grade.  The teacher, a football coach, promptly told him to go to 6th grade.  Jerry Lee refused, and the teacher picked him up.  Jerry Lee grabbed the teachers’ necktie, and pulled hard.  It took two football players to drag him off.  While the teacher gasped for breath, Jerry Lee was delivered to the school office.  There was another boy waiting to be disciplined, but Jerry Lee’s case was more serious.  The principal suspended him for two weeks, saying “Son, we can’t have you killing teachers.”  As he was leaving the school, the other boy said, “See ya later, Killer.”  So now, you know.

The other story has been told many times, and it’s attributed to various sources who say it happened in various places.  Jerry Lee’s act was quite energetic, and he always believed he should be the headliner on a multi-act show, because he worked the crowd into a frenzy.  However, some other big names thought they were just as big, so they would insist on closing the shows too.  One night, depending on which story you believe, Chuck Berry, James Brown, or somebody demanded they close the show.  Jerry Lee argued, but eventually gave in.  He agreed to do his show while the superstar headliner waited in the wings.  As usual, Jerry Lee played the piano relentlessly, with both hands, his fists, and his feet.  During his closing number, with the crowd on their feet, he set the piano on fire.  As he walked off the stage amid screams and cheers, he looked at the headliner and said, “Let’s see you follow that, pal!”  Except he didn’t really say “pal.”  Just think of the most  obscene, colorful expletive you can insert in that sentence, and you’ll get the idea.

Happy Birthday, Killer.  You’ve outlived your old Sun Records buddies, and that’s quite a feat.  Click and watch this unappreciated, underplayed Jerry Lee hit.  It’s Jerry Lee’s version of a Ray Charles song that had charted years earlier.  I like both versions, but this one’s largely forgotten.  Here’s a video of his 1969 TV performance, that shows Jerry at his best.  Enjoy!


Don’t believe (or re-post) everything you see on Facebook

September 28, 2015 at 11:04 pm


I see the Facebook “just saw it on Channel 13 Facebook privacy message” hoax is back. Just like the “too good to be true” $200 off” coupons, please don’t believe this stuff. Facebook can be a wonderful thing, but unfortunately, it’s also a breeding ground for false rumors and hoaxes.  Among the many Channel 13s in our great land, this one in Salt Lake City has posted yet again:

“Like last time, the copyright and privacy message is a hoax.

Officials are reminding Facebook users posting a statement will not protect your copyright and privacy rights on the social media site.

According to, “Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their Facebook accounts nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict terms instituted by Facebook simply by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls.”

So what does this mean for you?

No need to copy and paste the privacy statement on Facebook.

It will have no bearing on your privacy.”

Poor Channel 13.  They get the blame for a Facebook hoax someone started years ago, that keeps returning from the dead.

And if that one isn’t enough, this one is popping up on Facebook today:

“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: $5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private”. If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”

Here’s the real story, from Hoax-Slayer:  “Facebook has no plans to start charging users for normal access to the network. In fact, any such plan would likely be an act of financial suicide for the company. And, even if they did have such a plan, they certainly would not impose the absurd and ridiculous condition that users must pass on a silly status message in order to keep a free account.

So, if one of these nonsensical messages comes your way, please do not further clutter the Internet by reposting it. And, do your friend a favor by gently pointing out that he or she has fallen for a hoax.”

I’ll say it again, because it can’t be said enough: “Just because you saw it on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s true.”  You are welcome, and encouraged to share this post.  It just might save someone further embarrassment!

UPDATE JULY 27, 2015

During the past few days, a “$50 off any $55 purchase at Family Dollar Stores” coupon has popped up on Facebook.  Again, let me say that Family Dollar would go out of business in a matter of minutes if they started giving merchandise away.  Here is the statement on their page: “Unfortunately we have been notified that there is a fake Family Dollar coupon making the rounds on social media. Please see below for a sample. This coupon is not real and will not be accepted at any of our stores.”


If you’re on Facebook, you see all kinds of posts: birthdays, baby pics, get-well wishes, proms, pets, and jokes, to name a few.  Facebook is a great place to re-connect with friends, and stay in touch with relatives, often in far away places.  It’s been great for me.  It has helped me sell some books, and it just might be how you discovered my blog.  There is a downside, however.

Unfortunately, those same scammers who once ripped you off in person, or by mail, can now do it online.  Facebook gives them a golden opportunity.  They can hack into your account, take over your identity, and even trick you into giving up personal information.  They can adopt fake identities, and hide behind anonymity as they say and do cruel things.

Right now there is a viral post on Facebook that I wish would go away.  Those who spread them have good intentions, but they lead nowhere.  The coupon, promises you $100 off any purchase of $120 or more at Publix.  Let’s stop right here, and think about it for a moment.  How long would Publix stay in business if everyone on Facebook marched in there today, made a $120 purchase, and paid for it with a twenty-dollar bill?

Here is the statement from Publix that they have posted repeatedly on their own Facebook page:  “There is a fraudulent Publix coupon circulating on social media that states “$100 off your purchase of $120 or more”.  This is not supported by Publix and this coupon is not valid at any of our locations. We recommend not participating in the promotion or providing your personal information. Thank you for your patience as we investigate this situation.”

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”  Words to live by.

Hopefully, these false postings will soon disappear from social media.  Only to be replaced by something just as bad, or worse.  I’ll add my own piece of advice: “Just because you saw it on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s true.” You’re welcome to share this story.  But please don’t share fake coupons on Facebook.


Robert Starnes: “Fat Man to Iron Man”

September 27, 2015 at 3:44 am


For many years, I’ve known a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Officer named Robert Starnes.  It’s a good thing I keep up with him on Facebook, or I wouldn’t know him if he walked into my living room.  I used to see Robert when he weighed 425 pounds.  Those days are gone.  He is a lean, mean Ironman machine, preparing to compete in the big event on Sunday in Chattanooga.  This is the result of a pledge he made to his daughter Jessie, who died on March 19, 2008 at the age of 9, the victim of a sudden brain aneurysm.  Shortly before her death, she told him she wished he would lose some weight and get healthy.  Seven years have passed, and almost 200 pounds are gone. Let him tell the story:

“Sunday, I will finally honor a promise I made to my 9 year old deceased daughter, Jessie Anna to get healthy just before her death in 2008. It’s been 7 years in the making!!! But, I now feel that Daddy has finally arrived! Special thanks to my daughter, Jennifer Lynn Starnes,  my son, Josh and my mom, Jackie for putting up with me & my Ironman training, over the past 11 months! I am So thankful for everyone who has supported & encouraged me on this journey.

To the many Ironman athletes and those in training for Ironman! I am truly humbled by you for  continually lifting me up along this journey! I love and appreciate each and everyone of you! I will be racing for Emily’s Power For a Cure Ironman Team, Tennessee Donor Services & all fallen law enforcement officers, who have died in the line of duty.

As always, MY RACE, MY PACE!”

Robert, you are a hero to me.  In your personal life, as well as your professional life, you strive to turn negatives into positives.  As you’ve said, Jessie was an organ donor, and others live today because of her.  I’m thankful you’re an articulate spokesman for that cause, and and proud that you have continued to support her school, Wallace A. Smith Elementary.  You’ve said many times that you’re still a work in progress, as are we all.  But unlike too many of us, you have made a commitment to yourself, your family and your community.  A commitment that has required great determination and more than a little sacrifice.  Thank you for being a friend, a role model and an inspiration.  You’re not just an Ironman.  You’re a good man.


Welcome back, Alabama!

September 25, 2015 at 11:07 pm

I’ve written my thoughts about the Alabama band below.  First, here’s a video I’ve posted of a song from their new album “Southern Drawl,” called “I Wanna Be There.”  According to Randy Owen, it almost didn’t make the album.  In fact, it was the last song to be chosen, and is the last song on the CD.  I think it may be their best song since “Angels Among Us.”  If you’ve ever been a parent or a child, and that should include everybody, this one’s for you.  Fair warning: your eyes may get a little misty.

Can it really be 35 years since some good ol’ boys from Fort Payne took the country music world by storm? In 1980, country music was at a weird intersection. Longtime stars like Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and George Jones were competing with the more youthful sounds of the Urban Cowboy era. Mickey Gilley and Kenny Rogers were topping the charts, with George Strait and Lee Greenwood on the way.

The charts were dominated by solo acts, with the exception of the Statler Brothers and Oak Ridge Boys, established groups that had been around for decades.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere came an “overnight success” that was actually years in the making. Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry were literally country cousins who had played the bars and clubs for years under the name Wild country.

Throughout the 1970s the cousins, backed by various drummers, took all sorts of odd jobs to help keep their musical dreams alive. At nights and on weekends, they would back up big-name artists who came through the area, and eventually relocated to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where they played a club called The Bowery. There, they played nightly for tips, performing whatever was hot on top-40 and country radio at the time. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Merle Haggard, you name it, they played it.

They put out a few records on small labels, but nothing clicked. Finally they took in Mark Herndon, a drummer with a rock background, and found some success with a single called “I Wanna Come Over.” It wasn’t a huge hit, but it got the attention of an RCA Records executive in Nashville.

He saw them perform live at a “New Faces” concert, where they shared the stage with another up-and-coming artist named Reba McEntyre. In April 1980, RCA offered them a contract. Folks, when the label that sold millions of Elvis records offers you a deal, you should probably sign the dotted line. The Alabama boys did, and the rest is in the Country Music Hall of Fame history books.

The numbers are staggering. Starting with “Tennessee River,” the group scored 21 consecutive number-one hits, an unprecedented winning streak. There was one great song after another: “My Home’s In Alabama.” “Feels So Right.” “Love in the First Degree.” My personal favorite, “Old Flame.” Eventually the number-one streak was snapped, but the band played on. No problem, they topped the chart 21 more times. Not bad for a bunch of cotton-picking country boys!

Soon, they were racking up every major industry award, and selling out big arenas. I have a story about that. I was working at KZ-106 in Chattanooga at the time, serving as music director and morning deejay. We played rock music. Journey, the Police, Bruce Springsteen, those people. We left the country music to another station in town.

Alabama, circa 1980

Alabama, circa 1980

One day, Alabama announced a concert at the UTC Arena, then shiny and new, with a capacity of 11,000 seats. Tickets went on sale one morning at 10:00. This was pre-internet, so there were two ways to buy. You could order by phone, or stand in line at the box office. By 10:15, the phone lines were jammed, and folks were standing in line for two blocks. Soon, that show was sold out, and when the group found out, they said, “We’ll do two shows that day,” and of course soon both shows were sold out.

Using all our collective brain power, my radio colleagues and I said, “Maybe, just maybe we should go out there and see who’s buying all these tickets.” When we did, we saw something we hadn’t seen before at a country music event. These were not the middle-aged folks who stood in line to buy Conway and Loretta tickets. These were young people, our audience. Alabama, with their longish hair and upbeat songs, were opening country music up to a whole new audience. My rock station started playing Alabama songs. Nobody complained.

After about 20 years, the hits stopped coming quite so frequently, as younger, newer artists captured the radio spotlight. Randy and the boys stepped aside for a while to raise their kids and work on solo projects. Now and then, they’d reunite for a charity show, or to record an album with younger artists who cited them as strong influences. Randy, in particular, adopted St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, raising untold millions for them with his music, and his personal appeals.

Recently, the group (minus Herndon who parted on less-than-friendly terms) decided to record a new album, “Southern Drawl.” It’s their first original studio album in fifteen years, and it includes some terrific songs. Here’s wishing Alabama the best, as I thank them for all they’ve given back to their community. More than any big stars ever, they truly never forgot where they came from.

Teddy, Jeff and Randy today

Teddy, Jeff and Randy today


Uptown Funk and your favorite dance movies!

September 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Here it is, the dance video I’ve been waiting for someone to do:  They’ve put about a hundred of your favorite movie scenes to the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson hit “Uptown Funk.”  It was the worth the wait.  It features some of the great dancers of all time, PLUS Leslie Nielsen, Napoleon Dynamite, Will Ferrell, Austin Powers, Robin Williams….the list goes on and on.  It’s really fun.

If you just recently got this song out of your head, get ready, it’s coming back.  Don’t believe me? Just watch!

My weird, wired life

September 17, 2015 at 1:55 am

You know what they say: “It always happens in threes.”  So it was, recently with three of my longtime companions.  I lost my home compact disc (CD) recorder, my home DVD recorder, and my work DVD recorder.  Cause of death?  A combination of outdated parts, and dirty, scratched heads.  Sure, I could send them off to some mysterious repair service to be patched and cleaned, but at what cost?  As every customer service rep is trained to say, occasionally in English, “It would be cheaper to buy a new one.  And I just happen to have a deal for you!”

So, I removed the only parts with any value (the remote control batteries), and thanked my old machines for their service.  To be fair, they had high mileage.  I started recording music on CDs before it became easier to do on a computer, and I’m still in the midst of a decades-long project to convert my old VHS tapes to DVD, many of which you can see on my YouTube channel.

I shopped online for replacement devices, found some good buys, and I’m thrilled with the results.  My new machines work, for now anyway.  That’s the good news.  You know what comes next.


While disconnecting and reconnecting all the wires and cables that go into the receivers, stereos and TV sets, I found myself with a few extras.  Some came boxed with the new machines, and some of the older ones are no longer needed.  As I was throwing the old wires and cables into my big box labeled, “Old Wires and Cables,” I realized I now had more merchandise than Radio Shack.  In fact, Radio Shack is only in business today because I have purchased the same cables repeatedly, since the early 1980s.

As I was digging around behind the TV set, I found a huge plug, tying up two spaces on my already overcrowded receptacle strip. After tracing its cord through a curled, twisted jungle of lookalikes, I learned it was attached to absolutely nothing.  It was just plugged in, with no purpose to serve. I’m sure it had resided there since Ronald Reagan’s first term.  For many years, it had looked important, so I never moved it.  I remembered all the times I needed an extra outlet or two.  Of course, I’m keeping that mystery plug and cord, because surely I own something that needs it.  Something valuable, like an 8-track player.

I’ve kept all those old wires and cables, because they have come in handy on occasion.  My 89-year-old father-in-law lives down the street.  He’s still a proud VCR owner, and he thinks I’m a genius because I know how where all those cables are supposed to go. He will always consider me a genius as long as my repairs are limited to his TV/VCR connections.  If I’m ever called upon to fix his sink or his car, my reputation will be ruined.

My collection ranges from the wildly popular RCA AV cables (good) to the mysterious S-Video (better) to the 21st century HDMI (best).  I have a bunch of those red, green and blue component cables too, although I’ve never used them.  I’ve learned that the off-brand five-dollar cables deliver the same colorful picture that the big-name fifty-dollar ones do.  I have all sorts of male to female extensions,  male to male adapters, female to female couplers, and other scandalous combinations.

I have charging cables for cell phones like Zack used on “Saved By The Bell.” I have those wide-mouth computer cables that Bill Gates phased out about 9 Windows ago.  I have headphone jack adapters from an era in which a “pod” was where a pea resided. If any of these products ever make a comeback, I’m ready.  In fact, if I connected all of my cords, cables and wire, and aimed them toward New York City, they would generate enough static electricity to make Donald Trump’s hair stand on end.

Now that I’ve replaced my dilapidated old machines with smooth-humming new models, what will I do with all of these unnecessary connection cables?  I think my first stop will be the returns counter at Radio Shack.  I figure my collection should be worth about three stores.

My big box of old wires and cables!

My big box of old wires and cables!



RIP Bill McAfee, Chattanooga broadcaster, Tennessee legislator

September 12, 2015 at 10:15 pm
Bill McAfee on Channel 9 in 1964

Bill McAfee on Channel 9 in 1964

I have just learned of the death of Bill McAfee, one of my favorite people.  When I was growing up watching Chattanooga TV, Bill was one of the first faces I saw, and one of the first voices I heard.  What a fine voice he had.  Clear, distinctive, memorable.  He was born to be a broadcaster, but at the age of 45, he took on a new challenge that also suited him well.  He ran for a state legislative seat, winning twelve straight terms.
I first saw him on Channel 9, where he and Gil Norwood basically ran a two-man operation in that station’s early days of news broadcasting.  They were far outmanned by the other two channels, but just like their affiliated ABC network, they eventually became equals.  Gil was news director, and Bill did a little bit of everything else.  He handled the weather forecasting for a while, anchored the 11 p.m. news, and did a terrific job on sports, where he won numerous awards.  For a while, he did double duty on radio, hosting a gospel music program on WDOD-FM before reporting to work at Channel 9 later in the day.
1971 TV Guide ad

1971 TV Guide ad

In 1970, Gil started working behind the scenes, and Bill was teamed with Tom Willette.
Channel 9 came under new management in 1975, with lots of people moving in and out, so Bill switched to Channel 12, where he worked until he entered the political arena.  In addition to his great service in Nashville, he also did some public relations work for a local hospital.
1975 WDEF team, with Bill McAfee seated front right.

1975 WDEF team, with Bill McAfee seated front right.

I saw Bill a few times in recent years, usually at a Red Bank supermarket or pharmacy, and he was always talking to friends.  It seemed like he knew everybody.  He had some health problems in recent years, but he was smiling every time I saw him.  I was honored when his wife Janice asked me to autograph a copy of my Chattanooga Radio and Television book for his 80th birthday in 2011.  I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I sure hope I told him he was one of the greats of local broadcasting, because he most definitely was.
Here is Bill’s obituary, from Chattanooga Funeral Home:
Bill H. McAfee, age 84, of Chattanooga, passed away on Saturday, September 12, 2015.Bill was born to the late Fulton M. McAfee and Lucille P. McAfee. He graduated from Red Bud High School in Gordon County, GA, where he excelled in baseball, both during and after his high school career. He attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Bill served our country in the Georgia National Guard, completing his service as a 1st Lieutenant. He was employed with Lockheed Aircraft in Marietta, GA.

Bill began his public broadcasting career, for which his is best remembered, in 1960, at radio station, WCGA, in Calhoun, GA, with a Southern Gospel recording program called “Supper Time.” He considered this to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in his media career path. Bill then moved to other radio stations, WBHF, Cartersville, GA and WCHK in Canton, GA. In 1963, he moved to Channel 9, WTVC in Chattanooga, as a booth announcer and within the year, he and Gil Norwood began a two-man live newscast. Bill was with Channel 9 for 12 ½ years when he moved to Channel 12, WDEF.

In 1976, Bill was elected in the 27th District for State Representative to the Tennessee General Assembly, where he served for 24 years until his retirement in 2000. He considered one of his greatest accomplishments was extending Highway 27 (Coolidge Highway or Corridor J) from Signal Mountain Road onward to Spring City, Dunlap and moving toward the Kentucky line which took 14 years. The bridge passing over Morrison Springs Road in Red Bank along Highway 27 was dedicated to him on September 21, 2000 for his efforts in extending this road.

Bill was the recipient of many Civic and Tourism-Related Accolades; he received the Knight of the Round Table Award for the Tennessee Tourism Industry in September of 2000. This was the only time this award was given to a person outside the actual tourism industry. He was the Hotel/Motel Tourism Leader of the year, 1999, appointed by the Governor of Tennessee as a Representative for Tennessee on the National Trail of Tears Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Board for Moccasin Bend Hospital, Executive Administrative Assistant with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Bill was a member of Red Bank Baptist Church. He enjoyed going out to eat and spending time with his granddaughter, Caty who is now a senior at Georgia Tech. Bill enjoyed growing roses, fishing, watching baseball especially the Atlanta Braves and spending time with his beloved dog Molly.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Cindy McAfee, and a step-grandson, Ian Majoras.

Bill is survived by his wife, Janice McAfee; granddaughter, Caty Clark McAfee; step-children, Maureen Morrison and husband Jim, Kathleen Collins and husband Tim and Kevin McGregor and wife Jan; 15 step grandchildren and 1 step great grandchild;

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 pm on Monday, September 14, and 1 to 2 pm on Tuesday at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home.

A Celebration of Bill’s life will follow at 2 pm on Tuesday at the funeral home chapel with Dr. Fred Steelman officiating.

Burial will be private in the family cemetery in Calhoun, GA.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Bill’s name to American Heart Association , 519 East 4th Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403 or American Cancer Society , 6221 Shallowford Road, Suite 102, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson.


Spread the word: Don’t leave children in hot cars

September 7, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Update: Sept. 7, 2015:  Nineteen children have died of heat stroke after being left in hot cars in the United States so far in 2015.  There have been 3 such deaths during the past week.  Click here to see the complete list.

Every few days, an adult is arrested for leaving children in a car, on a sweltering summer day.  Some of these incidents have ended in tragedy.  Fortunately, in others, someone got to the children in time, and police were waiting to arrest the person who left them in unbearable heat.

I never thanked my parents for not leaving me in a hot car. Evidently, they were responsible people who valued my life.  I did thank them for various things over the years, but I guess that whole “hot car” thing was something I took for granted. So I will do that publicly, although posthumously now.  Thank you Hoyt and Ruth Carroll, for letting me live.  Sorry I’m late with my gratitude.

I’d say it’s a safe bet that the topic of leaving a child to swelter inside a locked automobile was never covered in their school days.  I’m fortunate, as are you, that most adults have that innate nurturing gene that makes them remove a child from a potentially dangerous environment.

As for myself, I attended school in the days when Driver Education was considered an important class, and the topic of removing a child from a hot car never came up.  I guess our teacher assumed we could figure that out on our own.

It has now become apparent that the skill of removing a child from a blazing-hot auto has not been mastered by all.  For whatever reason, there are those among us who leave our most vulnerable and helpless passengers inside these oven-like tombs.

So how do we combat the problem?  We use signs like this, at the entrance of a store near you:


We have become a nation that finds it necessary to post signs, instructing us to make sure we haven’t left anything important in our car before we run into the store for our Slim Jims, lottery tickets and Red Bull.

Did you have to be educated by highway signs, or store posters about the responsibility of not leaving anyone to die from heat stroke?  When you went to get your hair cut, did the stylist ever say, “Now before we get started, just to be on the safe side, did you leave your babies in the car?”

When these cases go to court, will the perpetrators get a free pass if they tell the judge, “Your honor, I swear on the Bible, I never saw that sign on the Walmart door.  If I had, I would have known not to leave my children in the car.  They need to make that sign bigger, so I will see it next time!”

Or, “Your honor, how am I supposed to read and understand those billboards, and those signs over the freeway?  I’m watching the road, I can’t be reading signs!  And since I didn’t see the sign, how am I supposed to know not to leave my kids in the car?  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on the drivers test.”

When I wrote about this epidemic a few months ago, a local attorney called to chastise me, telling me it had been a long time since my children were little, and that I didn’t understand.  She said, “I’m a great parent, and this happened to me recently.  My child wasn’t hurt, but there are many of us who have a lot going on in our lives, and if we get out of our routine, things can happen.  Maybe parents switch up, one does daycare, and the other goes to work, and we get overwhelmed.”  Thanks for the feedback, but I’m sorry.  I still don’t understand.

It has come to this: there are websites offering “Tips on Keeping Your Kids Safe from Heat Strokes in Cars.” Here are some tips that some people don’t know: Never leave kids alone in a hot car.  Always check the front and back seats of the car before you lock it and leave.  Put your cell phone, or something else you need by the child’s car seat, so you don’t forget to check.”  Read that last sentence again.  Yes, if you put something you NEED by the car seat….maybe you won’t forget your child.

Finally, since necessity is the mother of invention, businesses are promoting devices that signal an alarm when a child is left in a hot car.  These entrepreneurs recognize that common sense is now in short supply.  We can no longer be trusted to have the basic parenting skills necessary to prevent our children from being left alone to suffer and die in the heat.  We need alarms, sirens, motion detectors and flashing lights to remind us that we are parents.  If that’s what it takes to save lives, and prevent babies from suffering, let’s put ‘em in every car.

God help our children.