Skip to main content

I'm Free! I'm Free!

I learned early on that the number one rule when reading the news is to 'proofread' it before you go live with it. It prevents a lot of unnecessary embarrassment that sometimes does not fade from the listeners' memory as quick as you would like. Trust me on that one. When reading a trading post item one day, Sid Scott misread the word 'trombone' when he said that someone had a used 'tombstone' for sale. Back when the news was fed into the station via a teletype machine, my dad one day called Fidel Castro, 'Fiddle' Castro. He once said, a "Presbyterian was run over," when what he really meant to say was pedestrian. Yes, those are funny, but no so funny if you're the guy who read them.

Ray Mullinix, had a bad habit of coming into the station at the very last second, grabbing the local news clipboard, and without any proofreading, would open the mic and commence to reading scripts on the air! Now, most of the time, he could pull that off, but there was one day he didn't.

Donnie Ray Johnson had called from WKYR to ask if I had any local news he could 'borrow,' so I told him I would send over whatever I had. Now, Donnie Ray and I were always up for a good laugh, so when I hung up the phone, I sat down at the computer and wrote a 'very' ficticious story, and then faxed it, along with the other 'real stories,' except I wrote, "THIS IS A JOKE!" on top of the fake story, because I knew about Ray's habit of last minute news reading. Donnie Ray had a good laugh out of my fake story. He then laid all of the hard copy I sent, including the fake one, on the clipboard and left the station. Big mistake.

Sure enough, as usual, Ray came flying into the station just in time to grab the clipboard, sit down in front of the mic and read the following:
"This just in.....a prisoner escaped from the Clinton County Jail today by digging a tunnel from inside his cell. The man dug and dug and dug until finally he was free of the confines of his imprisonment. When he came up above ground, he was in the middle of the playground area at a day care center, and when he realized he was no longer within the confines of the prison, he began shouting, "I'M FREE! I'M FREE! A little girl climbed off a nearby swing set, ran up to the prisoner and yelled, "I'M FOUR!"
He was almost at the end of the fake story, when he realized it was not real. Donnie Ray had just pulled into his family's store when he heard Ray reading it on the air. The more Ray read, the hard Donnie Ray laughed until he was just plum hysterical. Some guy walking thru the parking lot actually stopped and was staring at him. When he called me, he was having such spell that at first I thought Ray had died. Then, I finally realized what had happened. At first, I hated that it had happened, because Ray was sick at the time, and I hated that part, but on the other hand, it was funny to get one over on Ray, even if it was 'allegedly' by accident.


  1. I remember that one randy it was a side splitter (about the trombone). You might have not had the radio on at the time but, back when the fellow that was over pronounced his name MA-KNOCKIN-BAYGIN. Elmer Goodman called him" many kin begin" . Ray and i laughed till tears came in our eyes

  2. The trombone story has always been one of my favorites. I remember stopping by the station and Donnie Ray trying to tell me the "I'm free" story. He was laughing so hard he could only tell it in short segments. I can just hear Ray telling that "news" story now...I sure do miss him!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Tornado at Beaty Swamps

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 10, 1933, Beatty Swamps, TN ( also known as Bethsaida), a small rural community located in Overton County, Tennessee, approximately 6.7 miles from Livingston, was struck by an F4 tornado that completely devastated the community. The funnel, anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, destroyed every home in the community, and killed or injured virtually every single resident. Much of the area was swept clean of debris. This is the second deadliest tornado ever to strike Middle Tennessee.

There have been tornadoes that have gained greater notoriety, such as the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, but never has a tornado affected a community as completely as the one that struck Beatty Swamps.

According to the National Weather Service, it had been a humid evening in the rural Cumberland Plateau community. In nearby Allardt, the temperature that Tuesday afternoon had climaxed at 82 degrees, a warmer-than-normal reading for early May. …

Ode To A Mule

James Arness died today. Gunsmoke was every one's favorite TV show back when I was a kid. For years, at my house, we watched every single episode that came on the TV. There's isn't any need to explain the show because I am sure that most of you have seen an episode of Gunsmoke at one time or another.

When I heard that Mr. Arness has passed away, I went online, because I wanted to read some quotes from the TV show - more specifically, I wanted to read some dialogue between Festus, played by singer Ken Curtis (Sons of the Pioneers), and the rest of the cast. Festus had a way of speaking, but he always spoke the truth and what he said always made sense, well in a Festus-sort-of way, I guess.

So, I went online to do that, and well, one click led to another click, and then another and another, and before I knew it, I found myself on YouTube, and that's when I heard, for the first time in many years, this beautiful story that I want to share with you.

If you paid close atte…

Long Live The Goat Man

(This photo was made in the 1950's as the Goat Man passed through my town)
Charles McCartney was born on July 6, 1901. In 1915, at age 14, he ran away from his family's Iowa farm. He eventually wound up in New York, and was soon married to a Spanish knife-thrower. When she got pregnant they tried to make it as farmers, but bad weather and the Great Depression wiped them out. About the same time, he experienced a religious awakening. A man on a mission, he hitched up his team of goats to a wagon and took to the open road with his wife and son. His wife made goatskin clothes for him and his son to wear as a gimmick during their travels, but she quickly grew tired of the road and returned to Iowa, taking their son with her.

Charles McCartney looked like a goat. He smelled like one, too because he rarely took a bath. You take a fellow who looks like a goat, travels around with goats, eats with goats, lies down among goats and smells like a goat and it won't be long before peop…