CHAPMANVILLE — This year’s Lions Club of Logan Officer’s Installation Dinner was a bit different. For one thing, longtime Lions Club stalwart Odis Ratcliff was missed by everyone involved, having passed away earlier this winter after so many decades of community service to Logan County and a host of different organizations that he was made a Hometown Hero by one local network news affiliate.
For the other, the special guest speaker was a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Logan the friendly rivals of the Lions Club.
Dave Allen, formerly of WVOW commented upon that as well as his past in radio at WVOW as well as what he is doing now and in the future in terms of his consulting firm.
“I was a guest speaker 13 years ago and it will probably be 13 years before you invite me back,” the affable Allen quipped.
“If you have not heard Dave on the radio, you are probably dead,” Lion Ken Nunley quipped.
“But as John Turner will attest you can probably still vote,” Allen quipped back.
When Nunley discussed how long Allen had been on the radio, the good natured guest joked back, “Ken, if you want to talk about age, I will inform them that you was the waiter at the last supper!”
Allen pointed out that even though he officially retired from WVOW radio in Logan that he still does some work with them including live remote broadcasts.
“I just came from one and did not have time to change,” Allen said. “And of course for the first time in years Glen Ables is wearing dress pants instead of shorts.”
Allen said time has a way of getting away from you when you hit middle age.
“Do you realize the OJ Simpson case was 20 years ago?” Allen asked. “Apparently when he fled in the white Bronco his plan was to come to West Virginia because nobody would look for a Heisman Trophy Winner in Morgantown.”
Allen began doing the morning radio broadcasts at WVOW in 1993 and pointed out 20 of his 26 years in radio were spent at the local station. Allen spoke about how WVOW is different than most commercial stations and has a unique personality all of its own.
“Like our show trading post,” he said. “Or Logan County E-Bay as we call it.” Over the years Trading Post has had people call in and offer to sell or buy anything under the sun. On almost a daily basis somebody has goats for sale, for example. “We once had a guy who called in and said he needed a car and a gun,” Allen said. “I am guessing he might have had dealings later with Trooper Glen Ables and Judge Roger Perry.”
Allen recalled radio personalities like the late Bill Becker who is still remembered for his live broadcast during two of Logan County’s biggest disasters — the Holden Mine Fire and the Buffalo Creek Flood. Allen noted that at one point Becker began challenging the state’s elected officials by calling them out over the flood response when he felt not enough was being done.
Help arrived. “That was the power of radio in those days,” Allen said.
Another favorite story of his was the rapid rise to stardom of local singer Landau Murphy. Allen noted that after Landau (as he is known to everybody in Logan) had hit the big time he wanted to do an interview with WVOW… which meant that the station had to resort to some chicanery to sneak him in past crowds of fans.
“That is as close as I ever got in my generation to experiencing something like the Beatles,” Allen said, adding that fortunately for Murphy he can now get out and about in Logan County without hordes of screaming fans. “He is accepted here as just one of us,” he explained.
Allen left WVOW on good terms and noted that he still has a fondness in his heart for the small town station because it still understands the value of local coverage.
“Try to get an announcement for the West Logan Church of God or the local ball game on some big city station owned by a chain,” he said. “A lot of small towns do not have their own radio stations so treasure it.”
Allen also discussed the local civic club scene and characters like the late Buddy Ammar who once challenged him by asking “what are you going to do with your life.”
Allen discussed his newest endeavor a consulting firm he heads up himself. Allen noted that in addition to working with local political candidates, and Marshall University on projects he has also worked on local events in the region.
While Allen is best known for his sense of humor he became serious when discussing coal. He noted that he also works with the Friends of Coal organization and had some strong words for the anti-coal movement in Washington that has cost hundreds of miners in West Virginia and Kentucky their jobs and has had a negative effect on rural Appalachian communities.
“It is a shame what has gone on in Washington in recent years,” Allen said of President Barack Obama’s vowed intention of putting coal out of business. Allen pointed out that while West Virginia and Kentucky have had to shut down mines and send workers home other states got treated differently — states where Obama came out on top during the last election.
“The rules for coal mining are not the same here as they are in Illinois,” he noted pointing to mining permits in states that went for his opposition being revoked by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.
Allen confirmed to one attendee at the party that the “Lum and Abner” program also has gone from WVOW. A relic from the Golden Age of Radio the show was forgotten everyplace else on earth but at WVOW which still played it decades after the performers involved had perished.
“If Plum and Awful is gone, I can tune in to WVOW again,” the guest said.