2012 Legacy Inductee
Jim Popwell, Sr.
1932 - 2003
Jim Popwell, Sr. was born in Clanton, Alabama on June 23, 1932. He worked for as a delivery boy for a local drug store. The druggist also owned the local radio station, WKLF. One day after hearing a commercial for the drug store on the station, young Jim quipped that he could do a better job than "that guy". The druggist sent Jim to see Paul Reid, program director of the station. Reid hired Jim and taught him radio. After graduating from high school, Jim enrolled at the University of Alabama and kept working at WKLF. Having gotten married expecting his first child, Jim dropped out of college and took a job selling appliances door to door in Birmingham. He worked part time at WTNB. In the summer of 1952, Paul Reid, his old mentor, called Jim and asked him to join him in Hawkinsville, Georgia to become program director of a new AM under construction. Jim accepted the job at WCEH, which stood for Cochran, Eastman, Hawkinsville. When he accepted the job, he told Reid he would only stay for a year. He never left. Jim eventually bought WCEH. Popwell was always on the watch for new technology, and along with his son applied computer technology to day to day radio operations at WCEH. He brought cable television to south central Georgia. He then bought stations in Cordele (WQXZ), Statesboro (WPMX), and Millen (WHKN). He built a new station in Cuthbert (WMRZ). In 2001, Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer, and sold all of his stations. Big Jim was one of a kind and despite his growl, had a heart as big as Georgia. He anonymously donated to charities and helped those in need in Pulaski County right up until his death, Christmas eve, 2003.
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© Georgia Radio Hall Of Fame Corporation, 2012