One of the great losses to our community was the loss of WCHK Radio in Canton. The station was housed next to Canton Supply and across from Stacey’s Discount on Marietta Highway.
WCHK can’t be mentioned with remembering Byron Dobbs. Byron was the voice of WCHK for many years and is now at WLJA Radio.
Every Christmas morning my parents would turn on WCHK so we could listen to Byron talk to children on the radio about what Santa had brought them.
He would take callers well into the morning and this practice became a ritual in our home.
We were interested to see if we knew any of the callers. Many times we did as our community was a much smaller place than it is now.
Byron also kept us updated on the latest news and weather. During this time of life we did not have 24-hour news coverage. We had WCHK and Byron Dobbs.
This was most significant when it would snow. As children we listened anxiously to the radio awaiting the decision of whether or not school would be called off.
It was Byron who would bring that news to us and I have many times wondered if that brought him joy.
But the bottom line was this; no one was more plugged in to the goings on in our community than Byron was. He was the voice of our community.
Byron didn’t just give us good news either. He had the task of giving us bad news also.
When someone passed away in our community, we would many times find out from Byron. I can’t remember if it was once or twice a day, but WCHK would bring us the “Deaths in Our Community.”
What this really meant was that Byron would read the obituary on the radio while soft funeral home music played in the background.
I distinctly remember my grandparents listening intently during these announcements and the kids were not to talk until Byron was finished.
This was of course before cell phones and computers so news traveled at a much slower pace.
When the elementary school basketball tournaments were held at Cherokee High School, Byron was there to call every game.
You could sit at home and listen to the names of your friends called as they played. This was a thrill for a 12-year-old.
In my home, every Sunday morning, the radio was turned to WCHK so we could listen to gospel music. Byron was always there playing the favorites of that time.
Every 30-minute segment it seems was sponsored by a different company such as Circle K in Ball Ground.
My father, Bobby “Cotton” Collett didn’t always make it to church with us growing up. But he always made time to listen to Byron and his Sunday morning gospel music radio show.
For whatever reason it was important to him. And because it was important to him, it was important to all of his family. I feel sure that is the reason I have a fondness for gospel music that I have today.
I had the privilege of talking with Marguerite Cline this past week. I say that because anytime you get to talk with Ms. Cline it is a privilege.
She told me that she is writing a book about the history of WCHK. I was thrilled to hear it because WCHK was such a huge part of my life growing up. It was a constant that we so often no longer have.
And Byron Dobbs was not just a voice on the radio like many we hear today. He was family.
If that is hard for you to understand then chances are “You ain’t from around here.”
Byron made a difference in many lives and touched many lives. I feel sure he was considered family by many in our community.
Having this opportunity to write about the past is a complete honor to me. Many times it may be about people that are dead and gone.
But I am happy to have this chance to say these things about Byron Dobbs while he is still alive and well. Thanks Byron!
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.