Wayne Alley a fixture on WGBR
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 3, 2004 2:01 AM
Wayne Alley may be the morning show host on WGBR radio, but for him it's all about being one of the family.
"I don't try to be a radio personality," he says. "I would rather be more a part of the community. People know 'good ole Wayne.'"
His voice has been heard on Goldsboro radio for nearly two decades. And yet he admits he never really had aspirations of getting into broadcasting.
"I may have wanted to get into some sort of entertainment," he said. "But it was a job; it was income. I needed to have an income."
He grew up in Greensboro, working a series of jobs that included construction, consumer finance, and being a traveling salesman. When he wound up living in Goldsboro in need of work, he responded to an ad from a radio station. The rest, as they say, is now his history.
He was at that station for 10 months before moving to WGBR in the mid-1980's. He was hired to assist Bill Justice, news director at the time. When the midday announcer left, Alley took over.
At one point, he left the company to work in a job in computers. That lasted only two years, though, when radio beckoned and he returned in 1998 as morning announcer.
"It seems like it was just last year that I started doing this," he says. "I have found it such a comfortable fit."
Many consider being a radio announcer a glamorous job. Alley says it is anything but.
"It can be hard work," he says. His show is broadcast weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. He typically arrives at the station around 3:30 a.m. and works between 10 and 12 hours a day.
He takes a lot of pride in what he does, adhering to several standards for his daily show. The bottom line, he says, is to present a program he would want to listen to.
"I don't try to go over the top or do anything I'm not comfortable doing," he said. "I want to do things above board and clean because I know there's a lot of kids listening as well.
"I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I may pick on my own family, but there's no need to get mean. I don't believe in mean radio."
Mostly, he sticks to the tried and true. He is aware that most of his listeners are on a mission, to get ready to start their day.
"People are most interested in getting ready to go to work or to school," he said. "They want the news, the weather. I try to make it move quickly."
He says he leaves the bad news to the news staff.
"I try to bring a bit of freshness," he said. "Make it short, make it funny and move on to something else.
"My job is to help them get their day going. It's that simple."
In a business where there is a lot of ego, Alley said he believes there is more talent in being considerate of the listener than in being arrogant.
"I have the utmost respect for all my listeners," he said, "because it is their choice to listen to this radio station."
In addition to offering his audience up-to-date information about weather and storm advisories, he has interviewed major sports figures, movie and TV stars, and authors from around the world. He says he enjoys bringing a variety of thoughts and ideas to the residents of Wayne County.
"People don't know enough," he said. "There's always room to learn more and I try to learn as much as I can about anything."
His show is also interspersed with calls from listeners as well as interviews with community members and a smattering of trivia questions. One of the most popular features is the daily announcement of local birthdays
He credits his audience with keeping him sharp.
"I don't pretend to be somebody that I'm not because listeners are very smart," he said.
He says he has a lot of freedom in what he does each morning, giving credit to Tony Denton, general manager at the station.
"I'm very fortunate," he said. "Tony has pretty much trusted me with the program."
It was also a boost to come into a station steeped in tradition.
"This station has been on the air since 1939," Alley said. "There was a pattern, a routine."
He called WGBR a cornerstone of the broadcast community in Wayne County, one built on trust and doing the right thing.
"I came in, sat down in the chair and carried on in the tradition, thanks to people like Vassie Balkcum and Karl Kassle," he said.
Denton said Alley's name can be added to that list.
"He's a big part of Goldsboro and WGBR," Denton said. "It's that personal touch and in today's world of electronic media, he's a source for what's going on in Goldsboro.
"Wayne and (news director) Thomas Vick do that."
Radio is depicted as "theatre of the mind," Denton said, and Alley does a good job of making people think and use their imaginations. He is also a reliable voice.
"Wayne is very into the weather, tracking storms," he said. "People really trust him."
Alley is often called upon to host community events and serve as emcee. He also gets to lend his voice to causes he believes in during his show, including United Way, scouting programs, and the Mental Health Association, on whose board he serves.
"People listen to us to learn things about what's going on in the community," he says. "I have a great job and I enjoy doing it.
"It's something new every day. I never know what's going to happen."
He attributes his ability to sit before a microphone and talk for a living to his mother, who passed away last year.
"I think it was just good genes," he said. "My mother was very calm about things in a time of crisis....She was my dear friend and I miss her."
Many listeners became familiar with Alley's mother, whom he included on the program occasionally.
Wife Joanie, to whom he has been married for 24 years, has also been there through a lot of the highs and lows over the years.
Alley turns 56 later this month. He says he is "just getting started."
"I can't say that I will be doing this when I'm 90," he says, "because older people just don't stay on the air.
"I feel like I will be doing other things, but I'm not in a particular hurry to change what I'm doing."
Until the day comes when Alley's voice is not broadcast on the airwaves, he says he will continue to enjoy talking with people and caring about what they have to say.
"I'm just me," he says. "Just a guy that has a job at a radio station.
"I have lived in towns much bigger and much smaller. This is just right."
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