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After fifty years in the radio business, Johnny Reeves relaxes in a modern control room at WCTT.

By Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer

Johnny Reeves marks a half-century in broadcasting today by taking to the air, as he’d done in the past, on WCTT AM from 8 to 10 a.m.

A reception for him is set from 8  a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the WCTT station on Adams Road.

It was on May 1, 1960 when Reeves began a career that has kept him in the hearts and minds of Tri-County radio listeners and customers.

He started with on-the-air work along with his sales work for which he was actually hired.

He was hired by manager Art Grunwald, who a year later went to WSON in Henderson and was eventually the Kentucky Broadcasters Association president.

Loren Hooker took over as general manager.

“He was a fine news man. He did the 8 o’clock  news many, many years and I thought probably he was the most listened-to reporter in eastern Kentucky,” Reeves said.

For the past 10 or 12 years, Reeves has done nothing but sales, but early in his career he had a pretty good following in his music choices.

Fifty years ago he started with popular music, “Maybe top 40 or something like that,” he said.

“Over the years I would maybe switch over to another format, maybe country music, so it was a back and forth thing.

“What kept me off the street quite a bit was that there were a few people in the area who liked to listen to me,” he explained.

He did a show in the late 1960s called Kaleidoscope.

“I mixed music up with some good pops, some big bands, which I always loved. And there were people over the years that would tell me it was the best show I ever had,” he said. “I felt very complimented by those words because I really enjoyed doing it.”

But after that he remained in sales.

A couple of other announcers on the station stand out in his memory.

One of those was David Scott, who he described as “one of the finest people you’ll meet.

“He worked for the station for quite a long time and, I guess, got a calling to one of the churches in south Corbin. He was a full-time announcer and we really missed David when he was gone because he had a following.”

Then there was Don Sutton. “He was really good.”

Sutton, now a lawyer in Williamsburg, “was an excellent radio man.”

WCTT (the CTT stands for “Corbin Times-Tribune”) got a license initially through the newspaper and went on the air in 1947.

In the late 1960s, WCTT got an FM station license and installed an automated music system.

But Reeves stuck with the AM station with the WCTT call sign.

“FM has really taken over as far as listenership now. We (Eubanks Broadcasting) are lucky to have two FM stations and it has really helped us. We can give you a choice,” he said.

Eubanks Broadcasting acquired WKDP, both AM and FM, in the late 1980s and the WCTT AM and FM stations in the mid 1990s.

Johnny Reeves’ family, including his four brothers and a sister, moved in 1941 to a Rockholds farm on KY 26, from Black Star in Harlan County.

The 11-year-old Johnny was the youngest. One brother survives in Arkansas.

He completed school at Rockholds High and in 1951 joined the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He was assigned to Japan and worked in the base photo laboratory. He was out in 1955.

He completed his college work at Cumberland College, then a junior college, at the end of the first semester of his second year in 1957.

A trip to Dayton, Ohio, looking for a good job, was sort of fruitless, even though he did find a factory job for a few weeks.

So he came back to Cumberland for May graduation.

His next calling took him to the University of Kentucky, where he studied radio arts at the school’s station, then WBKY. Then he came to Corbin and the rest is history.

Carl Keith Greene, who has a history working for local radio stations as well, can be reached at cgreene@thetimestribune.com

 

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