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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Gainesville June 26, 1974
Sub: Ray Dantzler
Int: Ted Burrows
T: .... YaMknow the dates of employment and all that kind of thing. And uh... -whei
you 4had said something like July iinctoen-ferty-aine to August -nineten-fi.-fty-seven
but uhPwas there a break in there at anytime?
R: Yeah. Yeah there was a break in there....
T: During the Korean War period? /
R: I went back in the service. July of fesanie ,would have been a part-time
T: As a student?
R: Yeah. Yeah. As a continuity writer.
T: Mn hmm. That's right. Yeahlthat's what it said.
R: Leonard Mosby hired me then.
R: He was continuity writer. He hired Larry.... Gunter? A little short red-headed
guy I. Out of uh.... I think one of Paul Jones' writing classes. I'm not sure
T: Mn hmm.
R: tit, li, -rt. yri,,,,' And uh... let's see then I graduated in June of- ift and went
T: Still as a continuity writer?
R: Nnnnno. I think I went full-time as assistant manager if I'm not mistaken.
T: What was the pay scale back around then? Do you remember off hand?
R: Pretty bad. (chuckle)
WRUF 6A -2-
T: Inflation has probably inchccrd T .(chuckle)
R: Gosh it seems to me we got fifty dollars a month part-time. And my first full-
time job in fifty was two -hundred a d tweint-y-fve dollars a month. And uh
when I left in .... I think the end of August in fifty-seven I was making four
and a quarter a month.... and I remember taking a pay cut to go into television
at u channel twelve in Jacksonville.
T: You must of really wanted to get into television pretty badly.
R: I,I did.A And it's uh probably one of the smartest things I ever didI guess. flaughl
T: Well you know radio is seems like it's on the upswing again. There's all kinds
of things happening. But uh.. let's see now. You said you were over at the
old building then when you went on duty.
T: What was it like over there? I'm trying to piece together details on like uh1
the physical facilities. Was it cramped or spacious? Your impressions.
R: Uh, generally it was adequate. We had, let's see as you went in the downstairs
you entered the main door from the....... east .... and walked into a small lobby
uh... in which we had about three desks. Secretarial desk, a traffic gal. Uh....
I.... I don't recall who else was there at the time. On the extreme south end
of that room there's a closet area. Immediately to the right of the main door
as you went in was Major Powell's office uh... in which he and his secretary were
housed. Uh if you went straight through the open door in)you went into the
sound lo k.... through a small hall into the main studio he only studio
we had at that time. Uh in the sound loc off to the south was a control room,
the AM control room.
T: So the board man sat there in the control room?
R: Right and he could see.....
T: The announcer was in the studio then?
WRUF 6A -3-
R: No. The board man and the announcer were one ,f the same.
T: Oh, O.K.
R: In the control room. Uh we had a separate microphone in the control room A
little news desk for the rip and read operation we did. We had the facilities
of the studio for whatever we wanted to use. I recall a huge grand piano that
stayed there for.... until we moved.
T: So that was big enough in case you wanted to bring in a small orchestra for a
live performance or a .... piano player whatever?
R: Oh yeah. Yeah. Toby Dowdy used to bring his uh.... country boys in in the
morning. He used to do an hour and a half two hours and they would do it
live from the studio there and we had a number of gospel groups uhlon Sunday
mornings. Uh... we taped... Professor John eBri. ..."Adaptation of a
Christmas Carol"in there one time.., with a cast of thousands it seemed like.
It really wasn't of course but it was kind of crowded at that point.
T: So that'seems to have become a tradition. Uh Lester Hale started doing it
I guess not long after that and he's continued it every year uh...
R: Well, as I recall Les was doing it then in the public function.
T: Oh but he didn't do it on the radio?
%i/ A "',' w Vx.r,,M, h- a,
R: this was a dramatic adaptation that that uh Prf BeBrif and his old voice
teacher here. He didn't do any of the air work himself.
T: Oh but he actually got people to play the parts?
R; Yeah he wanted to do it and coach them. And uh just fine old gentleman. And
let's see, going back to the physical structure, that was about half of the
downstairs. Between the door to the manager's office and the sound loek
door there was another door to the right, tothe north, and went up about three
stairs as I recall and what used to be the old transmitter room but it had.....before
I got there it had been moved out on the Newberry Road. And :- what was a
WRUF 6A -4-
R: transmitter room was then the record library mostly with huge bins for records
and we had a small continuity desk area over there in which we wrote the copy
and prepare the books for the next day.
T: O.K. You say this is still downstairs, right?
R: This was still downstairs, yeah. Uh off the north, I'm sorry offthe south....
west corner of that room was a small FM studio which also overlooked the main
studio from the north. The AM room overlooks from the east.
T: And that FM was reasonably new too wasn't it at the time?
R: It... had just been put in operation about the time I got there. I think it
was less than a year old in uh... in forty-nine. I don't recall the exact date.
T: Yeah, I'm gonna have to check into that. I think they put it in about the time
they put up the new tower out there west of town. I think they roughly
R: That could well be. Yeah hat was as I say, before my time and I don't recall
the exact dates on it. But on the south side of that main old transmitter
room the flight of stairs going into an upstairs area in whichuh.... we subs. /i,
uhju at that day we had uh the accounting function, the two people, oh I
guess they were both part-time. Uh sales office. One man sales office. And
I forgot what was in the third room.
T: That's O.K. Somebody else will know. (chuckle)
R: Alright. The main room you went into I forget the accounting'-buldirrg, the extreme
south end, the sales was back to the east, but I do not remember unless it was
an announcer hang-out or something like that which it may have been.
T: YdAknow that could've been because I)I hear some of theAfolks who worked there
then. Uh Bob Leach, I think Bob Smith, um... some of the other guys who were
around then said it was it was almost like a social club over there. Even the
guys who weren't on duty would go over and hang around. They'd play cards
Did you.. was that the kind of atmosphere there was at the time?
WRUF 6A -5-
R: I think it was, yeah. II don't think as assistant manager I was supposed to
know about much of that card playing thing.
T: At least the announcers did. (chuckle)
R: Yeah I'm sure the announcers did and there was a comraderthere I'm sure that
uh that lasted for many years even up in the new studios here. Uh...
T: Was there a place that was referred to as the guard room or something to that
effect where one or more of the announcerS/ould actually sleep or live? I'm
told that there was. Now there is upstairs but I'm trying to figure out how
far back that goes. Upstairs, at least it used to be. Theyguy who signed on
early in the morning, the guy who signed off late at night had first call on
living there because of the convenience.
R: That's awfully familiar but I... yeah I'm inclined to think there was and this
would have been a little room off of that.... old transmitter area. I would
have been to the.... east of the transmitter room and to the north of the manager's
office was the entrance from that old transmitter room.
T: Maybe it wasn't used all the time. Maybe it was used uh.... for an emergency?
R: I think maybe that's true. I think it also housed some janitorial supplies and
a few other odds and ends. laugh) And I believe there was a cot in there
as I recall. And uh Bob would know. He used to sign on more than anyone else
T: Yeah. See I'm I may ask a lot of different people some of the same questions to
,kin/ compare memories.
"R Certainly. WEN /cc;-, o 6.C^"
T: Uh what are your recollections of Major Powell. He seems to have been a2quite a
R: Uh yes, I would concur in that a hundred per cent. Uh... as far as I'm concerned
I guess he was my patron aeee because he gave me opportunities which I probably
WRUF 6A -6-
R: would not have had otherwise and I'm certainly indebted to him and I had the
opportunity to travel with him on a couple of occasions to um Florida Association
of Broadcasters meetings and uh.... as a result of that he was very close
friends with Dr. Tigert.... and on one of those occasionsA I think it was in
Miami, Miami Beach, I've forgotten when, I had the opportunity to uh)to meet
and talk to Dr. Tigert on a more social level than most of us students didwith
the university. At that point he was Professorp Iy.. President" 'i- ilLUL,
I guess. He was /o jrry here at the university as such. And he was k1a-r. very
VI' dynamic individual and I was very much impressed with him. 4ehn Powell was uh....
was not as dynamic as Dr. Tigert, let's put it that way, but he was a very
forceful individual. He had very definite ideas about broadcasting. He had
been in it uh.... immediately after World War I. He flew with uh Eddie Ric enbacer
in the ;A: t as you recall, and uh he and Ric enbacer remained
friends up until Powell's death. Very close friends. Uh.... he conceived the
idea of using the university radio station as a training ground for announcers and
I suppose his greatest -4 quote unquote were Red Barber.
T: Right. I think Red was also just about the first student to go to work at the
R: Certainly one of the first, yes. Uh... in the late twentiesearly thirties, I've
forgotten exactly when. And he,he loved young people and uh.... he would never
let us get together and -Je- 4 et him a Christmas present and uh although we
violated that one time and all of us almost got canned as a result of it. Uh...
he-he was just a very fine man. interruptedd by phone)
T: ... about Major Powell because along with the history of the station, I've given
some thought to maybe doing ohLi- might amount to a magazine article, kind of
a biography, of him as best I could piece it together. And I know his widow
WRUF 6A -7-
T: is still living in Gainesville.
R: Mm hmm.
T: And I'm sure I eld get some information from her. I'm just beginning the
personal interview part of this thing. I wanted to make sure I got enough background
information so that I could at least ask sensible questions. Um... you say
that the major help you a great deal. Did he seem to take that approach with
with all the men that worked down there or...? I don't wanea-ask in the sense
that he played favor, butbut did he feel this way with everybody?
R: I think so. He had a very uh.... a very personal concern with everybody who
worked down there. And this included some of the full-time people, the
secretaries and girls like that, most of whom were as I recall, wives of
students goinggoing to school here and uh... it was not a question of ya6t
know hire'em, pay'em for whatever they do, and let em go. He was.... concerned
with their personal lives and their problems and financial problems and I
guess we all had them then as we do now. Uh..... he once told me that.... if
he wouldAleave me one piece of advice to lead me through my life it was don't
get too personally involved with people you work for. I didn't really understand
that at the time. I think I have a better idea of what he meant ..... uh when
he said it but unfortunately that's certainly one piece of advice"I can't follow
because I think I... I adopted his philosophy of uh of working with employees,
that they are personal human beings and you can't always set up aAsuper structure
on paper and fit people into the various niches. Sometimes you have to amend
your organization to accommodate certain talents or certain idiosyncrasies and
I think there is a constant evaluation of uh... value quotient of an individual
versus an irritation quotient if you will. And I don't mean that in anyuh.....
WRUF 6A -8-
R: personal remark about anybody in particular. It just is a thing any administrator
constantly goes through I feel. He did it. I didn't really understand it at
the time but I do more now than I ever did then. And I understand the reason for
his advice but he couldn't follow it and I think many people can't. Although
there are very iron-fisted administrators who can and they will probably say
this is one of means or re... reasons for their success is that they... that
everybody is uh... a thing, just one other entity in the corporation.
T: I suppose sooner or later every administrator has to make that decision. Do
you operate the organization as a big happy family sort of thing with everybody
interacting informally or do you keep it X rigidly uh broken down, categorized.
Did he have a set of like hardened fast rules that everybody had to go by? Do
you remember any particularly stringent regulations that he never liked to see
R: Not really. Uh he tended to treat us which.... I uh I admired it at that point,p*i-
I still do admire as relatively intelligent human beings yaqknow it wasn't
a question of uh I hire you and I pay you x number of dollars now here's exactly
what you do one, two, three, four, five. Uh basically you were brought in there
and whatever function you were assumed to have a certain background to qualify
you for consideration then the opportunity was there for you to expand horizontally
or vertically I think in that particular function or'to other functions....within
the radio station, the broadcast station. And he was always very very accessible
to anybody. Uh hardly a day went by that I... he didn't walk through the entire
station up until the time he was hit with some ill heop and couldn't climb the
stairs. But uh prior to that he was up there at least once a day talking to
people, how are things going. He was interested in the job and the individual
WRUF 6A -9-
T: So he didn't just sit in his office all the time, he was out moving around?
R: Right. And he was out selling the station ..... commercially selling the
station,public relations-wise selling the station, he was a spokesman for the
broadcasting industry in this area because when that station came on the air
and when he assumed directorship of it... .. it was the dominant radio station
outside of Jacksonville maybe,and one in Orlando.
T: Mm hmm. Right. PBD down in Orlando.4Y( TA...
R: The whole northcentral and uh WMBR used to be in those days.... uh in Jacksonville.
And of course,these people were all members of the radio pioneers. Glen Marshall,
who used to be the manager of WMBR...... and I can't think of the gentleman who used
to manage their Orlando station, but he functioned for a number of years after
I came in contact with the industry and they were all very close so I knew
Walt Tyson in Tampa and uh..... the blanks are coming back. I'm sorry. rhuckle)
T: Right. Well that's why ... yeu. know that's why I want to talk to other people. Now...
R: Let me throw one thing in here which might trigger some other research on you.
During the AS CA P strike, and you'll have to check the dates on that, I honestly
can't remember,but Powell was instrumental in ..... the formation of what
eventually became to be know as BMI Broadcasting Incorporated. And the initial
meeting was held in the Old Whitepouse Hotel right down here in Gainesville.
T: No kidding?
R: Yeah with Powell and Spencer Mitchell out of Tampa and Walt Tyson and uh Glen
Marshall from Jacksonville.... and the gentleman from Orlando who's name completely
escapes me and there were a couple of people out of Miami and I didn't know
T: But this was in the early fifties probably? Is that right?
R: I think so,when we were playing fehn Foster records on the air is about the
WRUF 6A -10-
R: only thing had left and uh... it was set up)originally set up here and uh
eventually became Broadcasting IncpPorating-.
T: Let's see, where's BMI's headquarters now?
R: Chicago I believe.
T: Chicago. Yeah that kind of rings a bell. That's interesting, I'll follow
that one up. Uh I've heard all sorts of things connected with uhMajor
Powell. He must of been a busy man all his life.
R: He was the uh.... the father of little league baseball rii (- -.,.
T: So I understand and something about the flag day code? This June fourteenth
uh where we celebrate
R: I have heard that too but unfortunately I did not know about it at the time the
Major was alive. I never have_
T: I think Jim Camp wrote a newspaper article about that. I'll have to check
with Jim on that but uh...
R: Also Powell uh right after World War I, set up the equivalent of the first
broadcast network which was not a network as we know it today with a bunch of
stations tied together with a telephone line or microwave. It was as I recall
something like seventeen or nineteen stations all reading the same script, per-
forming the same program at exactly the same time on a given day and it had
to do with.-Gds for World War I veterans in conjunction with the American
Legion. He was a very uh..... very devout legionaire as I recall. Very active
in the Legion on many occasions and this... out of this also became the little
T: I'll have to check on that too. It may be that his widow/ might have some uh
more information. Perhaps he left some papers, some memoirs, things like that.
WRUF 6A -11-
R: I would assume so, he was a prolific notetaker. He didn't always save everything.
He used to throw a lot of things away every afternoon I know. He'd go over to his
desk and throw it here. He made notes on just about everything. And one
other incident that I recall discussing with him very briefly, although at the
time his memory was failing on him, it had to do with ..... a hurricane approaching...
the Gulf Coast area and a sri a call from a friend of his down in Tarpon Springs,
that the sponge sweep was going to get hit with this thing if corrective measures
were not taken. And as the way, as the Major recalled it,he had a Greek speaking
friend in the restaurant business here in Gainesville, he'got him on the telephone,
brought him out here and put him on the air because he'd been told by his
friend in Tarpon Springs that these Greek boats always had AM radios and they
always listened to WRUF. So with this friend came on in Greek, warned them of the
hurricane, they apparently got the message and supposedly got to port safely
because of this particular aQcidn-a part of RUF and Major Powell and just
other interested citizens.
T: Hmmm. I wonder when that could have been?
R: Let me check my files when I get home. I have a reason to think I used that
in an article I wrote about him at one point in time.
T: Fine and uh if I could ask you for a further favor, if you happen to have any
of the manuscripts from old articles you may have written, if you'd be kind
enough to lend them to me for awhile or perhaps someone could make a xerox
copy down there um...
R: Be glad to.
T; Um if you don't mind, I wouldn't use the whole things but if, if I could quote
small parts out of them, I mean this is a scholarly project. I've2I'm working
on my master's thesis and that's what this is. Um, and I think uh... it could
WRUF 6A -12-
T: have some value for broadcasters around the state. I know there are a lot of
folks around here who have worked here in the past. I think some of the students
here would profit by knowing exactly how this station developed over the years.
R: I think that's very true. He was a very uhs4tuc/4 o! Rotr; too. And a long
time member of the Gainesville Rotary Club and uh)I'm sure a number of .rtg-o/d
time Rotarians still around can contribute to your information on him.
T: Mm hmm. What network was uh the station affiliated with then? Was it still
Mutual or had it become NBC?
R: No it was Mutual at that time. It didn't become NBC until uh..... oh I believe
it was in the sixties if I'm not mistaken.
T: Mm hmm. Yeah of course I could check with Ken Small on that. He might have the
paper work on that.
R: This was also one of the first Associated press subscribers in the state I'm
told because of Major Powell's personal friendship with ....... Oliver.... I
weana say Gramling. I'm not sure. One of the first presidents of AP.
T: Mmm. That name kind of rings a bell. I may have read it somewhere but I could
check on that.
R: Hmm. That may be in something I have in my files at home. (chuckle)
T: But now this was in the days before TV really made uh)large scale inroads into
radio programming. U, you didn't program all music I suppose you had u) perhaps
some uh daytime serials, maybe some talk shows.
R: Oh yeah.
T: What was the program....?
R: We had a great number of shows. One side l' on this uh TV-a-d i1rft1
into radio, I recall very specifically a conversation with Major Powell. Shordy
after channel four in Jacksonville went on the air and we were able to get
the signal here in Gainesville and, Couch's radio and television operation, which
may still be in exsitence, you'd have a set in the window down there
WRUF 6A -13-
R: every night and they would have adspeaker outside. Uh you could either go
down and listen to it and watch it or go inside. Obviously, they were trying
to sell TV sets. And a policy question came up as to whether we were going, as cL
radio station, were going to advertise this availability of television on
a Couch's commercial. And uh this was X very early days of television and Major
Powell said, "Ray there is ncC way in the world that we'reegtfa beat it .... so
we might as well join it and make the best of it". And I think this was his
philosophy with communications in general, that don't try and sty- anything,
let's get into and help promote it along...... because we all weitd stand
profit from it. As for programming in those days, uh the Mutual network had
a great.... a goodly number of newscasters, fifteen Wintute newscasts were
very popular e.chtas Brown,steh-s Hardwick, Cecil Brown, Frriek Hardwick,
and I guess the number one guy was Po-r-I- Lewis at seven o'clock every
evening. And in those days it was originally sponsored by University Chevrolet
and at some point their sponsorship ceased, for whatever reason,I recall uh
selling it to First Federal Savings and Loan which is where it stayed until
the time I left. .Daytime programming uh.... Tom Moore for example, The Ladies
Be Seated Program which originated out at Winter Haven citrus exposition on
a number of occasions. fJh... the Breakfast at Brennan's was one of the earlier
programs in the morningThere were quiz shows that came and went. I really
o/ )don't recall what the afternoon programming to any great extent.
T: What about local shows? Did you originate any out of here specifically for the
local audiences? Maybe talk shows or news?
R: We had some local newscasts. We used to do a fifteen minute local.... state
and local newscast in the evening. Uh....
T: Did the station have its own reporters or was this mostly off the wire service?
WRUF 6A -14-
R: It was mostly off the wire services. I recall a guy name Bill Coleman and
I, on different occasions .tried to be a one man local news operation and (chuckle)
it was a great experience for us. I'm not sure that the listener got much
benefit out of it.
T: It's kind of tough to 4madl the whole area singlehandedly.
R: Yeah. We used to work it with the Gainesville Sun frequently. I remember
Bobby Beard down there and he'd say well know we'd work with the Sun and
uh maybe uL quote a few things from them on a local basis and plug the fact
that details were in the Sun because there's no way in the world radio or
television can ever put out the verbage of a newspaper, the detail of any
-'<.,,-3r sr. There was very little local news per se. We did costly
wires and wire service. We originated several programs here and I think
some of them are still uh still going with Ot/is Boggs particularly, -aa-
Gator football preview during football season. And we also originated the
broadcast of all the uh Gator games for a number of years over anywhere
from thirty to fifty station throughout the state. Ot/is called 4em uh) J "/1
S, -,l' tA-crr people were at one time. Bob Smith was one time, Ted Covington,
who still does some of it I think, uh Bob Leach, uh Norm Davis, who subsequently
went on to Jacksonville and is now down in Miami as assistant manager of a
T: Do you happen to know which station?
T: Good, I...
R: Channel ten.
T: I'll uh contact him.
T: See everyone I talk to puts me on to somebody else.
R: I'm sure he'd be glad to help yaC,
WRUF 6A -15-
T: Mmm hmm.
R: Uh..... most of our program originates into our music tr 405y of disc
jockey shows and we all thought we were the world's greatest disc jockeys to
come down o hk in those days.
T: Uh so did I. 6tA S
R: And uh.....
T: Just for the heck of it, let me ask you this before I let you go. I don't
--wanna keep you here too long cause I know you have some other things to do, but
what was.... what can you remember as the most humorous thing, the funniest
thing that ever happened to you while you were working? Or what's the most
humorous event you can remember while you were working here?
(pause) Is there anything that stands out in your mind in particular?
R: Uhhvaguely. Uh.... there were several. That-we had an announcer named Don
Smith...... who used to do the night shift. And Bob Leach can probably
give you some more details on this because he was part of the.... one of
the perpetrators. In fact, he was the major perpetrator on this one. And
what gets into Bob you never know, but he's one of the funniest people I've
ever known and he has the weirdest sense of humor.
T: I've noticed that. And he could talk for weeks at a stretch about the old
R: Right. Yeah. But Don was doing the eleven o'clock news one night, which was
a wire, rip and read wire thing in fifteen minutes, and uhlike many of us,
once we got into it we tended just to read what was there and not really know
what we were saying. And at one point, about ten minutes into the show, Leach
went into the control room, this is when we were down at the old station, the
old building, and put a piece of paper in front of Don in which appeared to
be a bulletin. And Don finished what he was doing, picked up the paper, read
it, put it down, and just went right on without any reaction at all.
WRUF 6A -16-
R: And we'd-we had a Western Union printer out in the officeaJBob had gotten
a piece of wire... wire service copy paper, put it in the printer, and
typed on it "Heres a bulletin from the Associated Press. Fort Sumpter
has just been fired upon. We will stay tuned for later details".
R: Which was 4 0J O- e iW fI And I guess the funniest thing was.....
T: A hundred years too late. (chuckle)
R: that)that Bob Leach was out in the lobby looking through the window and just
broke up because Don didn't do anything. He said... he said he read it just
as written. Another time I recall Don.... not Don but Bob Leach and guy
named Denny Prevatt JW used to be a morning DJ. He'd follow Don on and ....
they would do a.... I guess when Bob came on to take over the DJ chores
Denny went out and got a newscast together and came back and put it on. Gabriel
ewe was a nighttime newscaster on Mutual in those days and at some point Denny
read the newscast and uh inserted a local comment for.... of something. The
content escapes me at the moment. But uh, Leach was sitting at the control
board and as soon as he did that he opened his mike and said on the air, he
said "Thank-you Gabriel heff". And uh Denny broke up. He could not finish
the newscast and so finally they just had to cut the whole thing off and put
a record on. And then they got into a shouting match. And shortly after that
particular newscast they had a fifteen minute news show and then.. .A network
news show and then we had a fifteen minute gospel show. By the time we got
into the gospel show, which was being done with the old transcriptions, seasac
transcriptions as I recall, uh had coffee, announcqEto read a few well
chosen words, and go with the record. And it was a very religious oriented
program and Bob and Denny got into an argument which was..... certainly not
WRUF 6A -17-
R: for broadcast. And they would scream bloody murder at each other and just about
that time the recorded run out and the minute they'd kick the key it was
just dead silence. You had to stop in the middle of the sentence. Then he'd
read these very.... religious oriented words, get it in the music, and then
pick right up as though you had not missed a beat.
T: And then they'd go back to shouting at each other every time they closed the mike
R: Thought this was very strange how they could almost anticipate it and do it,
but I guess having done it so long I guess they could.
T: (chuckle) I'll have to ask Bob about some of these things. Uh one of the things
I'll do of course is check one persons memory against another. That's....
Someone is at the door You want in? Oh I guess it's your office too, I keep
forgetting that. Ray, this is Frank counts, one of our producer-directors. This-
is Ray Dainler from WTVT in Tampa. I wana. tank you. Listen I ought to let
you get out of here. It's uh.... you've got a few more calls to make.
(ends tape )
T: SLTLcr /zi5%32