Wayne Corey

Wayne Corey began in radio news at WAHL, the predecessor of WBCH, in Hastings, Michigan in 1958. He moved to WSJM in St. Joseph, Michigan in 1963. He was at WERX in Wyoming, Michigan from 1966-1972. As news director at WISM in Madison, Wisconsin from 1972 to 1979, he was known as Wayne Wallace.

Wayne Corey

I was really paying attention to a lot of different radio formats back in the 1950s and remember the Rock & Roll revolution that brought "news every hour, on the hour" to Top 40 stations. I believe chains such as McClendon and Bartell (based in Wisconsin, of course) were among the operators who brought news to those young hooligans listening to the devil's music.

When WLS converted from the Prairie Farmer Station to Channel 89 they inherited the license renewal obligations that ABC had pledged to the FCC. At the time (March, 1960) those obligations were taken very seriously. Hence, WLS was full of news and public affairs bits and had a news block from 6pm-7:15pm each evening, leading into Jim Taylor's "shortest show in radio" from 7:15pm to 9pm. WLS took their format from sister station WABC, of course.

I first did radio in 1958, began working permanently in October, 1959 and first did news fulltime in June, 1961. At WBCH we became very excited when we purchased two Ampex portable reel-to-reel recorders. They were the state of the art of the time and came looking like a small Samsonite suitcase. The cover came off and they were set up side-by-side in the control room. I took one of them out to tape football games and occasionally set it up at a city council meeting. The things we taped were rebroadcast in really long segments. No thought was being given to the shorter "actuality" although it was on the horizon. By 1963 stations were referring to their "electronic newsroom" and running shorter cuts on newscasts, most of them recorded over the telephone.

When I auditioned at WSJM in November, 1963 I had already heard shorter news clips and knew exactly what I wanted to do if I got the chance. WSJM was still reel-to-reel in 1964 but our competition, WHFB, was changing to cartridges. WSJM's pioneering (in that market) use of actualities forced WHFB to change their approach. They had been jointly owned by the two local newspapers and were mostly content to read the newspaper copy that "came flying over the river" at 11am every day.


By 1966 almost any station of any size had changed over to cartridges. Interestingly, I had never seen the Sony portable cassette recorded that we knew and loved until I came to WISM in March, 1972. Those recorders were already the rage here. WISM was far ahead of other Midwest Family stations.

To me, the single greatest innovation in radio news was the small reel-to-reel recorder and the ability to take it on location. Everything else evolved from that quite dramatic change in the way radio did things. In the 1950s many small town stations in the Midwest had their own news director who was quite a well-known personality. He might not cover much local news but he was always good at reading the obituaries and hanging around the cop shop. I remember distinctly that coverage of community controversy was discouraged.