I want to share this article from my friend John Henson. He is the Managing Editor for the Harlan Daily Enterprise. John sums up the thoughts of many following the death of “Big Jim” Morgan. I’ll share my own thoughts when I return to the office next week. Jim was my friend and my mentor.
Learning from a broadcasting legend
by JOHN HENSON
His voice was the one generations of Harlan Countians wanted to hear in times of trouble.
There was something so comforting, so knowledgeable and so familiar about it, probably because so many of us grew up hearing Jim Morgan’s smooth and deep baritone on WHLN before we headed to school or work each morning.
In the days from the 1940s to the 1970s, when WHLN was the only local radio station and there were no television stations covering the area on a regular basis, Morgan provided the information the Harlan Countians needed and knew they could trust.
Harlan County lost one of the men who made our area unique when “Big Jim” Morgan, who started his radio career at WHLN in the 1940s and eventually became the station owner, died Friday.
It was my good fortune to begin my career at WHLN in 1985, working with Big Jim and his son, James O. Morgan, who has operated the station for many years and is also an outstanding newsman.
Little did I know at the time how much I still had to learn about journalism after four years at Eastern Kentucky University.
A college education, though necessary in today’s world, paled in comparison to what I learned in a few months from my on-the-job training with the Morgans.
I discovered the first day that I didn’t even know how to pronounce all the letters of the alphabet correctly. As Big Jim explained, “It’s Double U...H...L...N.”
He was, of course, Mr. Morgan to me from the first day I met him until the last time I spoke to him several months ago at Rax as he sat at a table with my dad, David Davies and Luther Blanton. When I worked at the station, he reminded me to call him “Jim” during one of the few times we covered a story together on the air. I did my best, but I was little more than a kid playing radio when compared to the legend I was fortunate enough to have as a teacher.
Most of us sounded that way compared to Big Jim Morgan. We played radio, and he was what radio was supposed to sound like.
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