History Cherokee’s newest exhibit tells the story of WCHK: “Georgia’s Good Neighbor,” the local public radio station serving Cherokee County from 1957 to 2007.
The exhibit opened to the public in the Cherokee County History Center in Canton on Wednesday, October 18. The previous evening, around sixty patrons attended an opening reception. The attendees enjoyed light refreshments from Downtown Kitchen, drinks from Reformation Brewery, and a first look at the exhibit, fittingly held in the Byron L. Dobbs gallery.
Byron Dobbs worked for over sixty-five years in radio broadcasting and serves as the namesake for the gallery. His story, and many others, was featured in illustrating the history of WCHK through large posters on the walls, photographs, and newspaper clips. The gallery commemorated fifty years of the radio station, featuring its news coverage, gospel and country music, local announcements, obituaries, interviews, and more.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
The exhibit was filled with original items, from Sunny 100 Radio shirts to trophies for the station’s many accolades. To keep the exhibit interactive, History Cherokee also installed an original WCHK microphone which guests could broadcast into, and a television where guests could listen to different original audio clips from Georgia’s Good Neighbor.
“Our exhibits manager put out an all-call to the members and on social media for anyone with information, artifacts, or memories of WCHK,” said Lynn Reid, a museum attendant. Testimonials gathered from around the community were on display, recounting sweet memories of listening to the radio.
The reception was a walk down memory lane for some of the attendees; many of the guests either grew up listening to “Georgia’s Good Neighbor” or worked at WCHK, such as Tim Cavender. Tim Cavender, known then by his broadcasting name “Tim Lawson,” attended the event and even gave a sample broadcast into the WCHK microphone on display, just as he would nearly fifty years ago.
While Tim Cavender is best known these days for his “Ho-ho-ho,” his voice was also recognizable as a DJ on WCHK radio for thirteen years.
Heartbeat of the Community
Randy Gravley, CEO of Tri-State Communications and business partner of Byron Dobbs, also attended the event. Portraits of Randy, Tim McClure, and Byron Dobbs are on display above the television, overlooking guests as they explore the gallery.
Other notable attendees include Rick Roberts, the mayor of Ball Ground, and Marguerite T. Cline, author of The Glory Days of WCHK. Her book served as the primary source for most of the information displayed in the exhibit, in addition to accounts from community members. Other contributors to the exhibit were also at the reception, including Mark and Peggy Moore, who donated several of the materials on display.
“If the North Georgia Tribune was the soul of the community, then WCHK radio station was the heartbeat,” wrote Rebecca Johnston, the last station manager of WCHK and a current writer for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine. Her article published in the Cherokee Tribune celebrating WCHK’s fiftieth anniversary was on display in the exhibit. Rebecca shares, “WCHK represents the best of the community radio and leaves behind a heritage of service from the McClure family and from the employees who worked there throughout history.”
The remarkable impact of WCHK still stands true, now celebrated as an instrumental part of Cherokee County’s history. The exhibit is now open to the public and will remain on display through early 2024, for all interested in exploring the legacy of Georgia’s Good Neighbor.
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Makenzie Bird is a Cherokee County resident and intern with Enjoy Cherokee. She is the editor of Cherokee High School’s student newspaper and a communications alumni of the Governor’s Honors Program. In the community, Makenzie is involved with youth leadership opportunities with the school board and the public library system.