When Chuck Dougherty was hired by WLW-AM in the 1976, he felt he'd come full circle.
Dougherty, who died last month in Florida, grew up in Falmouth, KY, listening to WLW-AM. He enjoyed success as a radio DJ in New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta and Nashville before coming home to the 50,000-watt station.
"That was the station he listened to growing up. He felt that was the pinnacle," said his daughter, Deborah Dietrich of Woodstown, N.J.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 3227 Dixie Highway, Erlanger, KY. He died Jan. 20 in Naples, Fla., at age 93.
"We called him Chucky from Kentucky," said Jim LaBarbara, who worked with him at WLW-AM. "He loved to talk sports, especially Kentucky basketball and the Reds."
WLW-AM was the last stop in his 28-year radio career. After leaving radio in 1981, Dougherty operated the Gingiss Formalwear shop in Florence Mall for about 15 years, Dietrich says.
A World War II veteran, Dougherty flew 26 bombing missions over Japan for the Army Air Corps.
"He'd look at our (WLW-AM) control board in the studio and joke at times, 'This is more complicated than flying a plane,' " LaBarbara said.
After the war, he studied radio journalism at the University of Kentucky, working his way through school as a singer, according to a 2008 story in the Marco Island newspaper. His first radio job was at WBTH-AM in Williamson, WVA, in 1950 for $48 a week. While program director and morning man at Pittsburgh's KQV-AM (1958-60), "he made it Pittsburgh's first Top 40 station," said LaBarbara, who was a Pittsburgh high school student at the time.
"He was a major personality in Philadelphia for years," LaBarbara said. Dougherty worked WPEN-AM and WIP-AM in Philadelphia; WNEW-AM, New York City; WQAM-AM, Miami, Fla; WKDA-AM, Nashville; and WGST-AM Atlanta.
Dietrich, who attended many different schools due to her father's frequent moves, said he would describe himself as "just a glib gypsy."
Dougherty also wrote "Transistor Sister" in 1961 for Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, and recorded several songs under a contract with Roulette Records. He told the Florida newspaper that he "gave" Annette Funicello her first hit, "Tall Paul."
"I had heard this song by some kids and I thought it had a lot of potential, so I called a friend at Buena Vista Records (owned by Disney) and told him that 'Tall Paul" should be a hit.' He called me back later and said they gave it to Annette, and it moved about three-quarters of a million records. But she never knew it was me who suggested the song," he said.
Dougherty lived in Naples for about 14 years, Dietrich said. He is survived by two daughters, Deborah Dietrich of New Jersey and Diane Dougherty of Mesa, Ariz., and a son, Tom Dougherty of West Chester Township.