Banner Staff Writer
One of the great treats in life is listening to the classic, old-time radio programs.
“From out of the past come the hoofbeats of the great horse, Silver,” the announcer would intone at the start of “The Lone Ranger” broadcast.
There is a local radio broadcast that does not come from out of the past like Silver, but does bring back the past in a way that has drawn listeners from around the world.
“Old Town Cleveland” will celebrate five years on WOOP-FM 99.9 next month.
The program is a live, local history talk show which airs on the station from 10 a.m. until noon every Saturday morning, as well as on the Internet at www.woopfm.com.
Hosted by Ron and Debbie Moore, the show has presented guests of every sort during its more than 250 broadcasts totalling 500 hours.
“Prior to this show, I probably had spent less than 10 minutes on the radio in my entire life,” Debbie said. “Ron had participated in several different radio shows over the years, and he came up with the idea.”
She said Ron had a difficult time convincing her that people would want to hear them talk about “where things used to be and local ‘not in the textbook’ history.’”
“I have to admit I was wrong,” Debbie said. “From the first day, people have called in to share their memories of growing up and working in the area.”
The program has its own website — www.oldtowncleveland .com — as well as a Facebook page where it has been “Friended” more than 5,000 times, and has postings of local historical photographs.
Debbie said the first show featured David Swafford and Carolyn Harris talking about the 1960 movie “Wild River” which was filmed in the area.
“We had planned for the shows to be one hour long, but due to the volume of calls on that first show, we expanded to two hours,” she said.
Subject matters have included snake handling, moonshine making, growing gardens, bluegrass music, cemeteries, racing, and quilt making, among other things.
“We have had Pearl Harbor survivors on as well as 99-year-old Claude Ogle sharing his wit and wisdom with our audience,” she said.
Debbie said the program’s audience tends to enjoy “just plain folks talking about the neighborhood they grew up in or visiting Dooley’s Ice Cream Parlor when they were young.”
“Our best guests are always those who just call in and share their own stories,” Debbie said.
She adds the most important thing the program strives to do is encourage people to save their own history.
The program has won critical acclaim winning the “History in Media Award” from the East Tennessee Historical Society for outstanding history promotion and preservation of local history.
The Moores remain active with the program and compiling video documentaries of the area.
Their two completed works, “The History of Caney Creek Village (1912-43)” and “It’s a Dirt Track Life” have both won “Awards of Distinction” from the East Tennessee Historical Society for outstanding local history preservation.
The latter of the two documentaries, and the most recent, will be shown free of charge on Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. in the Walker Valley High School auditorium.
Over 20 drivers from Georgia and Tennessee participated in the filming of the documentary from the “glory days” of stock car racing. Many of the former drivers are expected to attend.
The DVDs will be available for purchase at the showing as well as at Central City Auto Parts on Central Avenue in Cleveland and www.oldtowncleveland.com.
“It’s a Dirt Track Life” will also be shown at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Ga., on Sunday, May 25 at 2 p.m., the Museum Center at Five Points at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 5, and at the East Tennessee Historical Museum in Knoxville on Sunday, June 15, at 2:30 p.m.
But, until then, Ron and Debbie ask: “We will always remember Pearl Harbor, but will we remember Aunt Pearl?”