Thursday, September 20, 2001

Matlock created magazine on radio

Smooth storyteller won top ratings here

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        To a generation of Cincinnatians, the words “Magazine of the Air” evoked one name: Stan Matlock.

        Mr. Matlock, the city's top-rated morning radio personality in the 1950s and 1960s, died Sunday at his home in Melbourne, Fla. He was 78.

        His WKRC-AM morning show was crammed with informational bits and stories on a variety of topics, and woven into the day's news, weather, sports and music.

        “He was the best storyteller I ever knew. There was never a boring moment in our home,” said Louise Matlock, his widow.

        The Withrow High School graduate, who moved here from Akron at age 6, loved reading and finding new stories he could tell on the air.

        “He loved writing. I think he considered himself first a writer, then a broadcaster. And he loved doing the research,” Mrs. Matlock said.

        Mr. Matlock began his broadcasting career in 1945 as a part-time newswriter for WCKY-AM, while a student at the University of Cincinnati. He was hired in 1948 by the old WKRC-FM (now WKRQ-FM), and switched to WKRC-AM a year later. He launched the “Magazine of the Air” in 1952.

        “He was so dominant in the 1960s that he had a 50 share (50 percent of all listeners). He just owned this market,” recalled John Soller Sr., former WKRC-AM general manager. “He set the standard for excellence in radio here.”

        He retired from WKRC-AM in 1975, then returned to the morning airwaves a year later on the old WLQA-FM (now WRRM-FM). At the time, he boasted that he had more than 30,000 “Magazine of the Air” scripts on file.

        He drew on some of those stories when he returned to WKRC-AM on weekend mornings in 1993 — from his home in Florida — after Jacor Communications (now Clear Channel) took over the station from Taft Broadcasting.

        His stories have been broadcast on Xavier University's WVXU-FM (91.7) since 1998. He recorded more than 800 “Matlock Magazine” features for the station, which airs them during weekend When Swing Was King and Music Shelf shows.

        The Matlocks have lived in Florida since 1983. He had been in failing health the past year.

        “He fought cancer three times. He had so many illnesses,” Mrs. Matlock said. “I kept calling him my Energizer Bunny, because he kept coming back. He had such courage.”

        Survivors include his daughter, Anne Byars of Austin, Texas.

        No funeral is planned. Mrs. Matlock said she is organizing “two gatherings of friends to celebrate his life,” one on Oct. 1 in Melbourne, and another at a Cincinnati area residence on Oct. 27.

        She suggested that his friends and fans make contributions to the Red Cross, or one of the many funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

        “He was so patriotic, and so devastated by the attacks, tell people to send contributions to one of the disaster funds. He wouldn't want flowers or anything like that,” she said.


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