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Judy Watters Inducted into Alabama Broadcasters' Hall of Fame

Friday, August 18, 2017

WLRH is thrilled that our very own Judy Watters will be inducted this weekend into The Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. This honor recognizes Alabama broadcasters for their leadership, achievements and contributions to the industry.

Leave your congratulations and kind words for Judy here. We'll be reading some of them on the air!

You can read more about Judy's career in her offical ABA Hall of Fame bio below or check out the ABA website to see some great pictures of Judy throughout her career.

Judy Watters is a rare breed. No one ever has a bad thing to say about her, nor does she have an unkind word for anyone else. Rare, indeed. Equally as rare is how she has for so many years shared her love for the arts through the airwaves of Alabama’s Tennessee Valley region. Her creative spirit combined with her professional dedication make Judy Watters more than deserving of receiving a 2017 ABA Broadcaster Award.

Watters didn’t plan on a broadcasting career; she has a degree in music education, but at a point when teaching wasn’t an option, she took a bold step that changed her life forever. “I had seen some music education television programs on the national level, and I thought perhaps this is something that they would consider here in Huntsville,” explains Watters. “I thought there might be an opening at our local public television station, so I went down and talked to the person in charge.” Nothing was available for her there, but she was encouraged to talk to George Dickerson, a man who was spearheading efforts to bring a brand new public radio station to Huntsville. Dickerson explained they couldn’t hire her because she didn’t have the required license, and as she walked out the door, he probably thought he would never see her again. He was wrong.

“I got the books at the library and spent about seven weeks studying for this test … technical ohms and watts and things like that,” she waves off dismissingly. “We had to go all the way to Atlanta to take the tests, and much to our surprise, I passed all three! So, I came back and presented my certificates to George. I was hired at WLRH, our local public radio station, which had not even gone on the air yet.”

Just as Watters’ broadcasting career was about to begin, it quickly came to a screeching halt when the station ran out of money. Five years later, WLRH, now owned by the Alabama Public Television Commission, rehired Watters, and she’s been there ever since. Currently she hosts “Morning Blend”, a classical music program, and she produces “Sundial Writers Corner”, another morning program that features regional writers.

“I know she’s extremely proud of ‘Sundial,’ something she started with her husband, Harry, with whom she hosted a radio show,” says the station’s general manager, Brett Tannehill. “It has fostered the culture of storytelling in the Tennessee Valley for decades.” “In her forty years as a broadcaster, her depth of knowledge and ability to provide historical context allows the public to better connect past to present in the world of music,” he continues. “She has provided a voice to segments of our non-profit community that otherwise would have little or no representation. This includes local symphonies, orchestras, classical music events and our community’s dozens of performing arts groups. She also consistently displays a high degree of creativity and has the ability to engage an audience in a way few others can. People love Judy.”

It hardly seems possible that Watters, preparing for the next day’s show with a variety of CDs, a boom box, a pen and a legal pad scattered across her kitchen table, is at an age that finds many fifteen or more years into retirement. “You know, I was not a young person when I went into this … I was almost forty,” she laughs. Knowing that she’s been in the business for forty years … well, you do the math, but don’t suggest age has anything to do with enjoying life. “I think it’s a negative view to start off with ‘I’m too old to do this or that,’” Watters says. “I’m very aware that I’m still learning. Never say, ‘I’m too old!’”

Concerning the ABA award, Watters was surprised to learn she was to be recognized. “I was just flabbergasted, and then I wondered … am I getting this because I’m the world’s oldest living DJ?” Watters chuckles. “I really feel just so grateful for this opportunity. Aren’t I lucky? I feel so lucky about this whole thing.”

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