2016 Founders and Directors Award Recipients
The Hurst Brothers
Frank Julian Byron
Mitchell County, Georgia is home to one of the most efficient irrigate agricultural systems in the world. A myriad of crops and products such as peanuts, pecans, pine trees, poultry, cotton, cattle, and vegetables are grown in the county’s fertile fields. It’s only natural Mitchell county gave birth to one of Georgia’s most successful radio families, the Hurst Brothers: Byron, Frank and Julian. In the late 40’s. Bill Woodall had just put WGRA on the air in Cairo, less than fifty miles from the Hurst brother’s Byron’s home town of Camilla. He gave Byron, a recent journalism graduate from the University of Georgia, a job at the station. After a few years, Byron got the idea to build his own radio station and asked Woodall for advice on a good place to do so. Woodall suggested either Dalton or LaGrange. Byron chose LaGrange partially because his uncle Ralph Freeman, a successful farmer lived there. Byron got a loan from the bank; his uncle co-signed. A postman from Cairo, Cecile Crews became the third partner in newly formed Chattahoochee Broadcasting. WTRP went on the air in 1953. The original WTRP studio and office were in the Hammett Building on Broome Street in LaGrange. The tower was originally located on the Moody Bridge Road. Eventually they built a modern facility and moved the tower to a new locating on New Franklin Road on the North side of town. Soon Byron bought Mr. Crew’s shares. Meanwhile, Frank graduated from UGA then went into the Army and served in Korea. Julian got a track scholarship to FSU.
As soon as Frank returned from Korea he joined Byron at WTRP, selling advertising and announcing. Julian did the same when he graduated from FSU. The Hurst Brothers were partners. Byron was General Manager, Frank was Business Manager, and Julian was Program Director. The stations engineer was Ray Relihan who also signed the station on each morning and played some country music. Ray called himself the “Park Avenue Hillbilly”. Martha Anderson did traffic, bookkeeping, and occasionally was heard on commercials. The format was a variety of country, MOR, Top 40, and R&B with specialty shows like “The Hive of Jive” a request program targeting black listeners. The station used LaGrange College students as part time announcers. GRHoF President John Long was a student and hosted the Top 20 on 620 on Saturday morning. Other students included John White as news director (he later became a top official with Coca Cola) and Mark Johnson who is a successful Mentalist and Psychic Entertainer.
In the mid 60’s, cable television was the hot topic and Jack Williams, President of the GAB suggested the Hurst Brothers get a franchise for LaGrange. They approached 2011 Legacy Inductee Ed Mullinax to join them; they won their bid for serving the city and began building the system in 1966. They went on to build systems in Newnan, Thomaston, Manchester, and Warm Springs.
In the early 70’s The Hurst Brothers sold WTRP to concentrate on the cable franchises. Frank Hurst passed away in 2004. Byron died in 2010.
Julian lives in LaGrange.
Original studio location was the Hammett Building at 301 Broome Street in LaGrange
Then came the new ultra modern building on New Franklin Road
John F Kennedy made a campaign stop in LaGrange on October 10, 1960. WTRP broadcast his remarks
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