via Peg McNichol, www.whtc.com
Sixty years ago, Bill Gargano turned on WHTC’s microphone and started talking, inviting listeners to call the station.
His idea of a radio show aimed at letting people get things “off their chest and onto the radio” turned into a show so neighborly, listeners often felt as if they were talking over the backyard fence – back when that was a pretty typical experience in and around Holland.
Gargano arrived in Holland after working in Sault Ste. Marie’s radio station. He arrived in 1952, then left — but returned in 1959, after a stint at a Wisconsin radio station. He carried the idea of the talk show from Wisconsin, where he’d help start just such a program.
Gargano remembers being impressed with Holland’s small-town atmosphere and how clean the city was. He liked the idea of the Wisconsin talk show, but it was a hard sell for his boss, Sandy Meek, who thought it was an oddball idea that wouldn’t fly in Holland.
Still, Meek gave Gargano a week to test the idea.
The phones lit up, and soon, the daily show, which they called Talk of the Town, had a sponsor: Grocer Paul Baker.