Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We Made him NUMBER ONE


In the Spring of 1954 the radio stations in Charlotte had a contest to see which station had the most popular DJ. The winner would be determined by which DJ's listeners contributed the most money to the March of Dimes campaign.

A couple of weeks prior to the contest Genial Gene had been kind enough to appear at the big Key Club talent show of that year and provide some real professional entertainment. The show was very successful. It raised $1000 for the club....to go to charity.

The vote was taken and the charity of choice was......the March of Dimes. It was bequethed to them is the form of VOTES for Genial Gene.
Charles Kuralt wrote a column about "The Genial One" in the Charlotte News in November of 1956:
By Charles Kuralt

“I was a stammerer for 27 years.”
It sounds like a speech course testimonial, but it’s only the personal declaration of Genial Gene, he of the radio couplets and the glib tongue.
“Yep,” he says, “I stammered worse than anybody you ever heard for 27 years. I used to evade speaking in public, and I’ll tell you how I did something about it. I forced myself. I was teaching in the county and I was too poor to buy any literature for the youngsters, so I wrote little poems and plays. The English language has so many synonymous words that when I couldn’t say one I’d just switch to another one. I had to learn words that way. I learned an awful lot of words, just so I’d have one ready when I hit one I couldn’t say. That’s the way I became a literary man.”
His public, which tunes in WGIV at 6 and 11am and 1,2, and 3pm Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday, gets an earful of literature.
Genial Gene (whose last name is Potts, by the way) talks in rhyme.
“I just make it up as I go along,” he says. “After learning all those words to quit stammering, rhymes are easy. Sometimes it’s hard NOT to talk in rhymes.”
Genial Gene won top disk jockey laurels in the city a couple of years ago, after 1,000 votes from Central High School pushed him over the top. This week, he’s celebrating his eighth year on the air.
“I belong to the public,” Genial Gene explains. “I’ve m.c.’d at all the swanky clubs around here and things like that. But I try to stay on the giving end, keeping others happy.”
On the “giving end,” he’s on the TB Association board, works with the March of Dimes, the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, United Appeal, Elks, AME Zion Church, and more civic committees than you can wave a microphone at.
“I don’t have sense enough to say no.” Genial Gene finishes work on his Christmas committee” and sprays that Yule geniality over the air.
It goes like that all the time.
A press release from New York the other day described the Carolinas Carrousel as “a big holiday celebration known as “Genial Gene Day.”
The press agent was a little over-enthusiastic.
But give the old stammerer a few more years.