Thursday, January 7, 2010

WHOP Radio: A Birthday, Broadcasting and Politics

On January 8, 1940 WHOP radio in Hopkinsville opened its door and took to the air waves. This week the station has been celebrating the history, the personalities, & the contributions that have been made to the area for 70 years. This milestone brings to light the legacy of one family that helped pioneer the broadcasting industry & three generations of public service in Western Kentucky.When Ernest Lackey became Mayor of Paducah in 1916, little did he know that three of his seven sons would help pioneer radio and politics in Kentucky.

Three Generations: Six Mayors, State Senator, State School Board Chairman,Kentucky Public Service Commission, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Charitable Gaming.

It all began when Pierce Lackey who had made money in numerous business ventures such as insurance and real estate convinced the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to grant him a license. Then head of the FRC was no other than a man named Herbert Hoover. "Pierce was the guy who started it all", said Henry Lackey. Lackey, who is the nephew of Pierce Lackey, owns WSON in Henderson. Henry told me that Pierce Lackey had the money, the ability, and the personality to succeed. "Pierce was known to enjoy a drink and the race track, he could win ten thousand dollars one day and lose twenty the next weekend."

Pierce Lackey would be granted a license to start WPAD in Paducah in the 1930's making it the 5th oldest station in Kentucky. Pierce would follow in his Father's footsteps and serve as Mayor of Paducah from 1940-1944. After getting WPAD off the ground Pierce would dispatch his brother Hecht Lackey to Hopkinsville to open WHOP in January of 1940. Hecht would soon move on to Henderson to open and operate WSON for Pierce. Ernest "Dutch" Lackey, who was the youngest of the Lackey sons was sent to Hopkinsville to run WHOP.

Besides WPAD, WHOP, &WSON the Lackey brothers would start and purchase more stations in Mayfield, Madisonville, Illinois, and Richmond, Indiana. Hecht and Dutch Lackey would later buy their respective stations from brother Pierce in Hopkinsville and Henderson. Hecht and Dutch would also follow the lead of Pierce by getting involved in politics and public service.

Henry Grider Lackey, son of Hecht Lackey would also serve as Mayor of Henderson and State Senator. Sherry Lackey Jeffers, Daughter of Dutch Lackey would serve as Mayor of Hopkinsville and be appointed to the Public Service Commission by Governor Collins.

The History

-Ernest Lackey: Mayor of Paducah (1916)

-Pierce Lackey: Mayor of Paducah (1940-44)

-Hecht Lackey: Mayor of Henderson (1954-62)
State School Board Chairman

-Dutch Lackey: Mayor of Hopkinsville (1958-65)

-Sherry Jeffers: Mayor of Hopkinsville (1982-86)
Member Public Service Commission
{Daughter of Dutch Lackey}

-Henry G. Lackey: Mayor of Henderson (2003-06)

State Senator (1981-86)(1990-94)
Commissioner-KY Dept. of Charitable Gaming (present)
{Son of Hecht Lackey}

Some Interesting Notes:

Hecht Lackey ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in 1937 finishing 4th. Also lost a bid for the State Senate in 1961.

Henry Lackey notes the really bad names all the Lackey men were stuck with: Pierce, Hecht, Grider, Pruitt, Herndon, Ezell. "Why in the world would you name your son Ezell" said Lackey. Of course they were all family names.

Katherine Peden: Dutch Lackey would name Peden General Manager of WHOP in Hopkinsville in the 1950's. "This was unheard of for a Woman to be GM of a station in Kentucky or else where then", said Mike Chadwell General Manager for WHOP. Note this happened in Hopkinsville not Louisville or Lexington. Peden would go on to help run Ned Breathitt's campaign for Governor, serve as the first woman Commissioner of the Kentucky Dept. of Commerce & serve as the only woman on the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders. The Los Angeles Times in an article regarding Peden stated that she had visited Watts in 1967 after the riots and help the Kerner Commission conclude in their report that the "nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white--separate and unequal."

-Katherine Peden died on January 8, 2006. WHOP went on the air January 8, 1940.

-Hecht Lackey married Rebecca Woodruff of Hopkinsville. Rebecca's sister Helen married Coach McWright for which Paducah Tilghman's football stadium is named. McWright had been the head football coach at Hopkinsville and left legend has it, for more money at Paducah.

-Pierce Lackey after starting WPAD in Puducah added the first FM station in Kentucky in 1946. In the 1970's the call letters were changed to WDDJ. Bristol Broadcasting would purchase the stations in 1996 after several owners. Bill Hagy who has been with Bristol Broadcasting since the 1960's said that he appreciates the history of the Lackey Stations and the contribution to the broadcast industry. Hagy stated." stations must be nurtured and grown."

Henry Lackey is the last of the family to own a station and as we celebrate the birthday of one of the original Lackey stations we pay tribute to their history, their contribution & service to Western Kentucky.

Thanks to Henry Lackey, Mike Chadwell, Bill Hagy.

1 comment:

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