NORMAN RHYNE

 

 

 “Stormin’ Norman” Rhyne got his start in radio at the age of 18, just a short time after he finished high school. Raised by his grandmother in Maryville, TN, his dad was a musician, and he too learned to play guitar at a young age. He sang in church, and competed in class talent shows during his school years.

 

All through childhood, Norman was always interested in how electronic stuff worked. He had torn up his share of 8-track players, walkie-talkies, and CB’s. He collected records by mail order, and from Roy’s Record Shop in Maryville. And he would run speaker wires to all four corners of his room from his stereo to listen, and play with reel-to-reel tapes on the recorder at home that his dad had given him. He was always tearing apart old TV’s, and anything else he could find to experiment with.

 

His first radio job was at WBLC-AM in Lenoir City. Norman was hired as a part-time board operator who knew nothing about the radio business. He stumbled into the job because he was singing with a small local Gospel band that bought some radio time for a thirty-minute broadcast on WBLC.

 

Announcer Brian Williams told him that the station managers at the time, Bob McKeehan and Earl Lauderdale, needed some part-time help, and asked him one Sunday afternoon when his group was in the studio, and Norman was in the control room, if he was interested in learning about radio and working in a radio station. The thought of this fascinated Norman, so he thought he’d give it a try. He came and talked to the managers, the next week, and was hired.

 

“I remember the first time I turned on the microphone, nothing came out. I was paralyzed.” he said. “The station had all the commercials and other audio on cassettes with 3, 2, 1, cues at the beginning, and that’s where I learned to do primitive radio, with the tapes and turntables. I learned to “slip-cue” a record before I ever knew of that term, or what it meant. I was always told by the boss that I was doing a good job, and they couldn’t believe that I caught on to things so fast!”

 

Norman left WBLC, as it was being sold to another owner. He went to WRKQ-AM in Madisonville, TN for a short time and worked there, and was later hired at WGAP-AM in Maryville by Sam Truan, who was the Program Director at that time. There he met and worked alongside local radio legends like Carl Wells, Glenn Morton, and Bob Bell.

 

“I was working at WGAP when WGAP-FM signed the brand new station on the air. I remember running the board one Friday night for the high school game that Glenn Morton was calling, and there was all new equipment in the FM control room, in the studio across from the courthouse in Maryville. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing, but I missed a cue to a commercial break and there was some dead air, and when the commercial finally started to play, it started up really slow, because I had just jammed the tape cart into the machine and pressed the play button. The station manager, Harry Plumlee, came into the control room yelling, and really let me have it! On Monday morning, I was called in to his office, and fired. I really wanted to stay at WGAP, I was a few months shy of being there a year, but it wasn’t meant to be, I suppose.”

 

He went from there to WHJM-AM in Knoxville, the call letters of the legendary Harry J. Morgan.

 

“I was especially intrigued by his deep voice that was just ‘made for radio.’ I only worked there a few weeks. The next job I got was at WKXV-AM on Middlebrook Pike, a religious broadcaster. I was on-the-air playing Gospel music, and running the console for the preachers’ broadcasts. While I was at WKXV, I started singing and touring the area with a singing group called ‘Cross Connection’ that is still in ministry today. I left the group because I had gone to WLIL and was working on Sundays, when the group needed me most.

 

“I’m trying hard to remember the exact details of how I ended up meeting Arthur Wilkerson and Glenn McNish, and coming to WLIL. I think it was around late September or October of 1990. I had left WKXV, and I was looking for another radio job because I just had ‘the radio bug’ and didn’t want to really do anything else, even though I had worked other ‘regular’ jobs, so I went to the studio to meet WLIL.”

 

Money, or the lack of it, was not an object to Norman, who gladly worked many hours on the radio being paid minimum wage, and was happy, until reality set in on him one day.

 

 “I left radio completely, and went to work as a delivery driver in 1996. “I had kids, and needed more money than small-town radio was paying. I never really understood in my mind why I never went to try for the big-market radio jobs. Maybe I thought I wasn’t good enough to get hired.” I came back once to do some part-time work for Glenn after BP bought WLIL, and I always considered WLIL my home.”

 

And yet there was more airtime on radio’s future for Norman.

 

“WKZX-FM was Country in 2004, and I was hired by Cherokee Media as Music Director of their No-Rules Country format, but the sale of the station didn’t complete, and I was out of radio again until 2007 when Mr. Fowler bought WLIL.”

 

“Glenn needed some part-time help during the ownership transition. Little did I know then, that it would carry me to my current position of WLIL Operations Manager and host of the Trading Post. I am very happy now with WLIL, and I haven’t even thought of going anywhere else to work. And I look foreword to many more successful years here at the Legendary AM 730.”

 

You can reach Norman at (865) 986-7536, or norman@wlilcountry.com

 

 

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