Wayne Cannon seeks recognition for broadcasters

Wayne Cannon RT

Wayne Cannon, left, with Roland Twigg of WJDY-AM in Salisbury. “RT” is regarded as one of the great disc jockeys in Delmarva history.

Longtime radio personality Wayne Cannon, whose familiar voice has been heard on the airwaves nearly 40 years, has dialed up an idea.

He wants to starts a hall of fame to honor area broadcasters and record local on-air history.

“It’s something we need in this area. Broadcasting was always something I wanted to do, from the time I was in high school. I have had a great career and I’m still having a great career. I just wanted to come up with something to remember the great broadcasters, before everybody forgot about these people who were pioneers,” said Cannon, from his West Ocean City home.

The Delmarva Radio and Television Broadcasting Hall of Fame would “acknowledge the men and women of radio and television who have informed us, educated us, and entertained us through the years on Delmarva,” and include owners and those in management, engineering and sales, Cannon said.

Wayne Cannon Mug“I was always told if you don’t  know the history of your business or your profession,  you don’t know your profession. I was growing up around these wonderful men and women who have not only entertained folks on the air but also the management, owners, engineers and sales. I just thought it was  time,” he said.

He’d like to see the late John B. Greenberger among the first recognized, because when WBOC-TV debuted on July 15, 1954, it was Greenberger’s voice viewers heard, then and for the next 35 years.

“He was the Walter Cronkite of this area. He was the first guy we watched on WBOC,” Cannon said.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, on WJDY, 1470 on the dial, Johnny Williams and Roland Twigg, known as R.T., were popular disc jockeys.

Cannon called Twigg, “phenomenal.”

“He had neat sayings. RT had all the sayings and he was huge. He would be part of the first inductees,” he said.

WICO Radio’s CR Hook, the first voice of the Delmarva Shorebirds, would be remembered, as well as WICO’s Bill Phillips, host of the then-popular Party Line.

One of the founders of Salisbury University’s radio station, WSSC, was Richard Holloway. Mike Seidel, now on The Weather Channel, and Cannon’s wife, Christie, also worked there.

Others he mentioned are Ralph Pennewell, Little Georgie Hack, Lanny Layton, Johnny Rahe, Tom Maguire, weather ladies Nancy Pigman and Claire Beach, Don Messick who started his career at WBOC at 15 and went on to be the voice of Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters,  Dick Ireland, Jerry Skislak, Jim King,  J. Dawson Clark who worked at WBOC’s Pocomoke City radio station for about 20 years and hosted Teen Town Record Club, Herb and Faye Scott who founded Great Scott Broadcasting,  Ed Marzoa and Bob Smith.

On WDVM, later WDMV, Eddie Matherly hosted Momma’s Country Youngin’. Choppy Layton was on the team, as were Jack Gillen and Tom Marr, now at WCBM Baltimore.

Offering a historical overview, Cannon said WSMD Radio was the first Eastern Shore station signed on during the summer of 1928. The office was on the seventh floor of the old Wicomico Hotel at East Main and North Division streets, where One Plaza East is now.

It was operated by cousins Charles and Alfred Truitt, who were also in the newspaper business.

“They published the Salisbury Times, or it could have been, at that time, the Evening Times, Salisbury’s daily newspaper,” Cannon said, remembering their most popular program was Saturday Night Jamboree. It aired from midnight to 2 a.m.

“It featured vaudeville from the Arcade Theater in downtown Salisbury. Because there were only 10 or so radio stations in the country on at that time of the morning, WSMD could be heard in California, Canada and all over the east coast. Letters would come in from all over the country. Radio was new,” Cannon said.

Interestingly, actor Gary Cooper and actress Faye Wray, who were in St. Michaels filming The First Kiss, were guests on WSMD. Cannon said Charles Truitt reported Wray was a little nervous because it was her first radio interview.

“She would become King Kong’s love interest in 1933,” Cannon said.

WSMD closed about a year and a half after going on the air, due to lack of advertising.

The first successful radio station on the Eastern Shore was 960 WBOC, which signed on in 1940 and is the fourth oldest in Maryland. The call letters are no longer WBOC.

 “It’s not going to happen overnight. We have to find some seed money.

“It has to be based in Salisbury. I’d like to see it based at the Nabb Center at SU, because it’s all about history,” said Cannon, who is searching for a logo designer.

“We would have a plaque with the person’s picture on it and a little bit about what he or she did in broadcasting. And we would have a ceremony,” Cannon said.

“And most importantly, we have to do it with class.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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