In light of the recent death of Louisville radio and television personality Wayne Perkey, to honor his memory, here is an interview with him by contributing editor Lucy M. Pritchett that ran in the December 2018 issue of Today’s Transitions. Lucy recalls that she and Wayne met at a local coffee shop for the interview and sat chatting at a table in the courtyard. “Wayne proved to be an engaging storyteller and shared countless stories and experiences of his WHAS morning radio days and years as host of Crusade for Children telethon,” Lucy says. “He was certainly a steadfast presence in many Louisville lives and we as a community were fortunate to share in his energy and enthusiasm.”
For 30 years, many Louisvillians woke to the voice of Wayne Perkey, host of WHAS Radio’s “Morning Team.” He also served as host of the WHAS Crusade for Children for 20 years. Wayne retired from radio in 1999 and now works as a realtor at WR Realtors while also making personal speaking appearances. He is a member of the National Speakers Association.
How did you get started in radio?
While attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a friend suggested we audition for the campus radio station. I got the job. It wasn’t until a few years later that I really considered radio as a career for myself.
What were your plans?
I thought I’d be a lawyer. My uncle was a judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force, and he lived all over the world. I thought that was very glamorous.
What trait contributed to your success?
I’m a stream-of-consciousness kind of person. I take info in and keep it moving. I think that lends itself to radio.
Favorite family story?
My dad met my mom where she was working at the corner drug store in Clinton, Tennessee. They started dating and eventually eloped. They went up to Jellico, Tennessee, got married, but didn’t tell their families. Someone saw my mother get off the bus when they returned and told her father, and the secret was out.
What is a skill every man should have?
Learn to balance your checkbook.
Advice to a younger you?
Get your college degree.
I TRY TO PAY ATTENTION AND LISTEN TO PEOPLE I RESPECT AND WHOSE OPINIONS I VALUE.”
Trait you would change in yourself?
I wish I were more prompt and punctual.
How do you jump-start your day?
With the Courier-Journal (print) and a cup of coffee.
How did you survive in the entertainment industry?
I got really lucky. I was never a specialist, always a generalist. For a few years I worked as a rock and roll DJ, but at 26 decided I couldn’t do that forever. I took a job in Mobile, Alabama, where I was a radio personality and did the news and weather. I moved to Louisville when there were only three radio stations in the market. WHAS was looking to start a morning show, and I was hired for that. We created its format of news and information.
How do you stay relevant?
I try to pay attention and listen to people I respect and whose opinions I value.
After my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, I came home for the summer to Lake City, Tennessee, and went to work for the city sanitation department as a garbage man. I lasted two weeks.
How do you know when to walk away?
When you don’t fit where you are anymore.
How do you keep your spirits up?
I’m naturally an optimistic guy. I expect things to work out, and I’m surprised if they don’t.
By Lucy M. Pritchett / Photo by Melissa Donald
P.S. Read about Lee Burchfield, a lifetime spent in the stacks.
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