WTCS' Alan Gifford Has Passed Away...

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Scott Reppert
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WTCS' Alan Gifford Has Passed Away...

Post by Scott Reppert » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:37 am

Alan Ray Gifford (WTCS, 1986-1987), 50, of Fairmont, passed away Saturday (Feb., 25, 2017) at his home.
Arrangements are incomplete at Carpenter & Ford Funeral Home, Fairmont, WV.

I had the privilege of working with and, if I remember correctly, getting "Giff" hired at WTCS back in 1986 (more on that later). His time at "The 'T'" would probably be as non-descript as any other parttimer that worked there aside from two events. One of which has become legendary. I'll submit the less legendary one first...

The field on the hill behind the WTCS studios had NEVER been mowed EVER in the eight or nine years since I had started there. Well, one day in 1987 the hillside got mowed. Brushhogged. Every bit of vegetation behind the back of the building up to and around the tower GONE. In one day. Whoever was working evenings that night called off and Giff filled in. I get home (no cell phones in those days, remember) and I get a call. It's Alan. All he says is, "What do I do?" and, of course, I come back with, "What are you to do about WHAT?". His reply was: "The MICE". And, never thinking what had happened would have never happened in a million years, asked him, "What mice?". "The ones that are running all around the studio! There's at least three in here right now! What do I do?" I proceeded to tell him we had some traps back in the back room and a couple more back in the engineer's room and that he should try and eliminate as many as he could. At some point in the evening, one even ran across the console while Alan was on the air! The last I heard that night of 'the situation' was when he called back and asked if he should 'keep track'. I was really tired, I was doing mornings and I was going to bed and I said, "Yeah, yeah. Keep track" and hung up the phone. The next morning I go in and hanging on the side of the main studio monitor rack was a sheet of paper with thirteen marks on it. You know: four vertical slashes with a diagonal slash across them to represent five? There were two of those and three single vertical slashes. Representing 13 mice. The noticeable thing about Alan's 'keeping track'? The slashes were in mouse blood. Which, in honor of him, I will probably name my next band...

And now, what Alan Gifford's radio days will always be remembered for (followed by a serious radio question at the end):

Giff began bugging us to hire him for on the air work somewhere around 1982 or 1983. Part time opening after part time opening came and went and Giff never got hired. Technically, we knew he knew everything that needed to be done to keep WTCS rocking and we knew he could do it. We just didn't know what HE would sound like while doing it! Well, it came down to December 1986 and a few days before Christmas Eve. We had brand new, pre-programmed Christmas Eve programming that had just arrived, so the shift was basically going to be start a segment at 6:00pm, do a break at 6:15, do a spot and weather at 6:30, do a break at 6:45 and repeat until midnight. But guess what? NO ONE wanted to work that evening! So I says, "Alan. This is your big chance! If you REALLY want to work on the air, this is your shot. But you HAVE to work Christmas Eve". He reluctantly said he would and showed up that night to do the shift. As I was leaving he reassured me that he could handle it and THEN he asked THE question: "During the breaks tonight, can I track Santa Claus from the North Pole to Fairmont?" Yes, it was a question that I was not ready for. I said, "Okay, look: you can do it at 6:15 and at 6:30. IF I call you after the 6:30 break and tell you to quit doing it, you gotta man up and quit doing it for the rest of the night. Got it?" He said he did, so I went off to Denny Burnworth's house for a Christmas Eve get together. On the way over I heard him start out the 'tracking' at 6:15. Not bad! I also heard the 6:30 break in the car on the way to Denny's. Again, he was doing a good job! I got to Denny's house and called him and said it was okay to continue through the evening, and he did.

At Denny's house, we tuned in a couple of times to see how he was doing and it sounded good...getting Santa down from the North Pole through the Yukon, Canada, Alaska, Minnesota and down through the states toward Fairmont, WV. I left the evening's get together to head home around 11:40pm. I heard Alan do the 11:45 break. He had Santa in Morgantown delivering toys and stuff to all the good little boys and girls. I thought to myself that he had done a really good job and this had gone off way better than I had expected. Alan had not stuttered, stammered, misspoke, stumbled or done anything wrong the whole evening!!! And then, it happened...

It seems in Alan's calculations of exactly where Santa would be each break, he failed to notice the last 15 minutes of the programming was broken down into TWO segments...and that he needed an extra 'Santa Stop'! At 11:52, Alan did the extra break he hadn't planned on, and so his legacy was born: "Well, boys and girls...uh...Santa...Santa is on his way...here...to you...uh...here in Fairmont. Last...uh...time we checked...uh...Santa was in Morgantown. And right now?....uh...Well, kids...uh...Santa Claus is over Osage..."

My serious radio question to follow THAT? I know that, especially back then, small stations were never graced with a ton of equipment or gadgets. But WHY did we never record ourselves more than we did? I have two airchecks of me that have survived (10/87 and one from He's Alive)...that's it. Yes, it is great for me to reminisce about Alan and time we spent working together...but I wish I was able to PLAY you some of those things. The only thing I can come up with is that, at the time, WE NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD END, SO WE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING TO HAVE AN AUDIO DOCUMENT OF IT EVER HAPPENING. It's sad. Because it does end. And yes, we have stories. But there could have been more. Do not take your time in radio (or any of your other time, as well) for granted. Cherish it. There will be a day when it is over. And it's good to have stories.

Pictured below, Alan Gifford is second in from right on front row. Lacy Neff first on left in front row.

I'm telling ya, cherish your time...

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Scott Reppert
Music Director/Program Director/On-Air Personality
WTCS/WFGM/WMQC/WAIJ/WLIC/WRIJ/WKJL/WRWJ/WPCL/WWPN
Media Coordinator: "Believe Right" TV and Shortwave
"For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation"--Luke 2:30

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