By Cory L. Higgs
Richard Rogers has been a fixture at WHEO for 34 of the 42 years he has spent in broadcast, delivering the news and hosting the morning show.
But on Dec. 31, Rogers took off his headset for the last time, and retired from the station that has been on the airwaves in and around Patrick County since the 1960s.
His retirement marks the end of an era for many who tune into the station.
Rogers said he never really saw himself in broadcast as a youngster, and only found interest in it after he started listing to the Top 40 Hits that his passion for radio started to grow.
He recalled being a young man in high school when the station was first opened. After hearing some of his favorite hits on the radio, he was hooked and shortly after began working part-time at the then-AM radio station.
However, his long career in radio could have potentially never come to fruition.
Rogers explained that about 22-years ago, health issues related to his heart brought his plans to a grinding halt. Through what Rogers calls a miracle, he received a heart transplant. It “renewed my life,” he said.
After his miracle, Rogers continued working in broadcast, and nostalgically reminisced over the years gone by.
With such a long career in radio broadcast, Rogers had the opportunity to host an array of programs and shows. Feeling inspired by his faith, he created his own program segment, which he referred to as the ‘Devotion Program.’ In this segment, he showcased his Christian faith and shared devotionals with his faithful listeners.
Rogers said he doesn’t have an exact way to measure his audience on any given day, but estimated that listenership was in the thousands.
When asked what he would miss most when leaving the station, Rogers said, “I’ve enjoyed many years of working with my co-workers, but most of all I’ll miss my listeners. Radio has given me a feel about what Patrick County is all about. It helps you connect with the people,” he said.
Throughout his lengthy broadcast career, Rogers said he has heard everything, from top hits to commentary segments. Having listened to just about every song imaginable, he says he doesn’t have a genre that he dedicated as his favorite; but loves all music.
However, one song in particular always brought a smile to his face when behind the control panel. “Upon further reflection, I would have to say that the beloved hymn “How Great Thou Art” is my all-time favorite. The song eloquently captures the essence of Biblical truth, glorifying a gracious, all-powerful God,” he said.
He said the most memorable part of his time with WHEO was being a public servant. He said the greatest joy was, in a sense, being part of the family of his listeners.
“It has been a wonderful privilege and blessing to have served and been a part of the daily lives of countless individuals and families (multiple generations of many of these families) who listened to my morning radio show over the years,” Rogers said. “I sought to inform, inspire, and encourage listeners at the start of each new day. I sincerely appreciate all of my faithful listeners and thank them from the depths of my heart. Most of all, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve my friends and neighbors in this community and beyond for more than four decades.”
He expressed a deep sense of gratitude to those who have devotedly supported him through the years.
“May God bless each and every one of you as He has blessed me with the opportunity to serve you and our close-knit community,” he said.
Rogers jokingly said he also felt like a celebrity when he walked the streets of Patrick County, saying he felt like he was a companion that spanned generations for the people of the county. He also recalled the most memorable moments of his career – such as meeting governors and politicians as well as artists and celebrities.
So, what’s next for Patrick County’s “broadcast celebrity?”
“I’ve gotten up so early for so long; I’m going to catch up on sleep, and fight the sleep deprivation,” Rogers said, and chuckled.
On a serious note, Rogers said he is going to be praying for God to open some new doors for him and continue to lead him through his journey.
Rogers also has some words of advice for Steven Walker, who has taken the helm with Rogers’ departure.
“I want to tell him to just be yourself. He is a fine young announcer, and he will do well if he stays true to himself,” Rogers said.
Tune into WHEO at 92.7 FM/1270 AM or listen online at wheoradio.com.