The CGBC in the 1950's

Vice-President Richard M. Nixon dedicates the new Cumberland Gap Historical Park in 1959. WMIK was there to cover the event.

Preface To The Individual Links At The Bottom Of This Page

During the 1950ís, the Cumberland Gap Broadcasting Company gave many young employees the opportunity to further their education at Lincoln Memorial University while they worked. Several of those former employees helped me in my efforts to accurately record and authenticate the history of WMIK. Without their help the information you see on the following pages would at best be incomplete and at worst inaccurate.

The man who encouraged many of those employees to attend LMU was Maurice K. Henry. The information you will read concerning Mr. Henry gives only a very brief overview of this manís remarkable life. His accomplishments in Middlesboro continue even today in the areas of progressive education in the Middlesboro Independent School District. He lobbied for many years for road improvement in and around Middlesboro, including the Cumberland Gap Tunnel Project. One of the most outstanding newspapers in America was nurtured by Mr. Henry. The Middlesboro Daily News continues with the tradition of excellence Mr. Henry insisted on. Finally, WMIK in Middlesboro remains an integral part of the area.

Through several phone calls, letters, and a copy of Mr. Henryís autobiography entitled " My Life As A 20th Century Traveler," I have learned much more about this southern gentlemen. Now in his eighties, he continues to be active as he begins his travels into a new century. I personally want to thank him for his continued assistance and kindness.

One of those men of the fifties is my friend, neighbor, and radio mentor; John Cawood. John is ill today and everything written about him is from my point of view. After a long life of work and service to our area, much more could have been said, and probably should have been about John. A measure of a manís life is what memories he instills in others. Johnís work will speak for itself because of his giving nature for many, many years. I only wish we could sit down together while he critiqued every page and through his once flawless memory would give insight as only he could.

One LMU student went on to make a name for himself in the international realm of nuclear energy. Dr. Talmadge England has perhaps accomplished more in his chosen field than anyone else who ever worked at WMIK. Dr. England was always one of those that the older folks at WMIK spoke of when I worked there as a teenager.

Today, it seems that many educators and sociologists insist that oneís family background determines the final outcome of oneís life. This is certainly not the case with Dr. England. It is fascinating to read his biography and resume for they seem to clash head on. After many phone calls and email messages, I have found not a single hint of vanity in this man. His story should be told to every high school class in America today. His life proves that hard work and perseverance will eventually bring success no matter what your present situation. It has been an honor to correspond with Dr. England.

Several years ago, John Cawood and I were listening to some old tapes we were going to use for a special radio program saluting his Crusaders Quartet. The tapes were live recordings of broadcasts made during the early 1950ís. On one of those tapes I heard the smoothest, most professional sounding voice I have ever heard. John told me the voice was that of Lee Wilder. All I could say was wow! During the last few months, I have spoken to Leeís daughters who live in Memphis. One has written a heartfelt biography of her dad who passed away back in 1987. A fantastic voice was stilled forever.

This summer I met two former employees of WMIK. One was Bronell Reedy who now lives with his wife near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Bronell is another of those LMU graduates from the fifties. After a nearly three hour visit with he and his wife, I found them both to be wonderful people. Though Bronell did not choose to remain in radio, he became very successful in the construction industry. Look for life story in the future.

I want to tell you about someone else I met this summer. Even though I had never seen him, I knew someday I would get an opportunity to. My chance finally came at Gaffney, South Carolina inside his impressive office building at Limestone College. Even though we had spoken on the telephone many times and had exchanged dozens of email messages, meeting Bill Baker was undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments in my radio career. I had heard so much about him. He is another one of those radio legends.

Bill is the kind of guy one could sit down and talk to for hours without ever getting tired. He has such a smooth voice and he has so much to say about historical things. In fact, with the exception of John and Edith Cawood's scrapbook, most of the photographs and background information concerning WMIK during the fifties came from Bill's private collection.

Bill's ideas and sense of history helped the following pages to come to life. He has a lot more to say. I'll keep you informed!

Bud Canamar

Flooding was always a problem around the studios and the tower on 25E. Both photographs were taken during the flood of 1951.

View from the WMIK (WCPM) tower taken by Tal England.

Here's Little Mic (pronounced Mike) and her driver, Harold Page. Little Mic was the promotion vehicle for the station. Notice the frequency at 1490 KC, and "It's Mutual" painted on the side.

Bronell Reedy and Lee Wilder watch a Chess game at LMU.

WMIK had a remote studio in Pineville, Kentucky.

Bill Baker supplied this great photograph of Middlesboro during the fifties. Like WMIK, it was growing steadily.

Smokers Club

This is the original Kiddie Kapers photograph; Bill, Lee and John.

Follow the links below to get the stories of those who helped make WMIK a regional radio station success during the 1950's and beyond.

Maurice K. Henry

John Cawood

John Cawood

Bill Baker

Talmadge England

Lee Wilder

Ron Mendler

Dick Carey

Joe Clark, HBSS WMIK Preacher Photos

WMIK's Cumberland Valley Barn Dance

WMIK Program Logs from the 1950's

1958 Ten Year Anniversary Brochure

LBS: The Liberty Broadcasting System: 1950-1952

AUDIO FROM THE 1950'S

Milton Estes and His Musical Millers were heard regularly on WMIK. Milton was the father of WMIK's Denny Estes and a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The song below is a shortened version of Happy Birthday Polka from 1950.

You may have seen the name Jimmie Ballard in the early logs of WMIK. Jimmy had a show on WMIK at the very start. Below is a shortened version of Birthday Cake Boogie with Jimmy and the Dixie Drifters from around 1950.

Happy Birthday Polka with Milton Estes and his Musical Millers

Birthday Cake Boogie with Jimmy Ballard and the Dixie Drifters

Ullman Weather Jingle from the 1950's

Lee Wilder's 1952 WMIK Station ID and Time

Lee Wilder's 1952 Cumberland Gap Broadcasting ID

Here's John Cawood's Bulletin Board outro from the 1950's

Lee Wilder's Poetry Corner Audio from 1952.

Gospel Favorites: Part 1

Gospel Favorites: Part 2

Gospel Favorites: Part 3

Brief Audio of Jack McPhearson from the 1950's

Hugh Vancel Auction Audio from the 1950's

This site was written and is maintained by Chuck Owens, Middlesboro, Kentucky

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Email: ceowens3@earthlink.net