DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Interview: 94.9FM Deejay Ted Bell

Posted in Interviews by darielb on March 12, 2009
94.9 The Surf deejay, Ted Bell.

94.9 The Surf deejay, Ted Bell.

Ted Bell is one of the deejays for 94.9The Surf  in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. He’s on the air from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, and then hosts the All Request Beach Music Café from noon until 2 p.m.

Ted, who knew he wanted to  be a radio deejay when he was 11 years old, has been working in radio since about 1962, and when I stopped by to see him at the station a couple of weeks ago, he told me some great stories.

Born in Lynchburg, Va., Ted’s family moved to S.C. when his dad was transferred there for his job at Sunbeam.While still in high school, he began working for WORG in Orangeburg. One Saturday, while he was running the Redskins ball game, in walks Ben E. King. That’s right Ben E. King, who had just released “Stand By Me” the year before.

How cool is that!?

“The station was down off the square, just near the college,” Ted tells me, “We had a lot of drop bys. Gladys Knight & the Pips stopped in to see me, too, during that time. It was a great opportunity for me to talk with some artists I really respected.”

After high school, Ted served two years in Viet Nam, where he was wounded in the  Tet Offensive and received the Purple Heart for his injuries. Soon afterward, Ted found himself in Charleston, S.C. “You know I worked with Billy Smith before I came to the Surf,” Ted goes on to say. “We worked the midday show at WTMA. I was promoted to operations manager at WTMA-FM, and Billy then took over my slot.”

Where else did he work, I wanted to know. “Well, I spent some time in L.A.,” Ted said. “This was the late 70s. I worked at KNOB, an easy listening station actually located out in Anaheim. I met a lot of great people there … Jermaine Jackson and all the brothers … Casey Casem … I got to know the announcers. I met Danny Davis, head of Motown. Heading east again, Ted moved to Albermarle, N.C. in 1980. “At WABZ, which is now owned by Bill Norman [owner of WNMB-AM radio in North Myrtle Beach].I did a lot of interviews for the Saturday Night Music Machine show that ran from 6 p.m. to midnight – Neil Sedaka, who talked a lot about Carole King; Johnny Mathis, who told Ted all about gourmet cooking; Debbie Reynolds; Freddie Cannon; George Burns, around the time of the Wish I Was 18 Again recording. I had his home phone number and called him up. Just like that.

Jim Wilkie, who had a show called Night Train on WWOD, 1390-AM back in Lynchburg, had been my mentor. He was a nice man, always taking time with me. Nowadays, he’s in Norfolk, Va. Anyway, after I left Albermarle and moved to Blowing Rock (WVIO) I had the chance to do a Night Train Remembered sort of syndicated show. I got to interview him.In fact, the show went to Lynchburg. It was a great time.”

Ted, who also handles production for the Surf, is still interviewing some of the great R&B and soul singers. When Ted and I spoke, he was in the process of scheduling Lloyd Price for an interview/guest deejay spot. “Yeah, Lloyd is going to be on the phone with me, acting as a co-deejay. I’m in contact with quite a few people I’ve interviewed over the years.”

Soul singer Barbara Lewis, known for  “My Heart Went Do Dat Da,” “Puppy Love” and “My Mama Told Me” recently called in during Ted’s show. It was her 66th birthday. Ted was able to put her in touch with some Surf listeners located in Hawaii who were also great Barbara Lewis fans. Mel Carter (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”), who was honored in 2007 at the Carolina Beach Music Awards, also stays in close touch with Ted, as does Archie Bell.
When the Coasters and the Platters come to town to perform at the Alabama Theatre, Ted Bell does the opening. He’ll be talking to Little Richard about his upcoming show at the Alabama next fall, too.
Ted Bell has been married to wife, Lynn, for 20 years. One of her favorite musicians is Greg Allman, so when the rocker came to the local House of Blues, Ted interviewed him, too.

“I love what I’m doing. I love mainstream beach music.  I play a lot of popular hits from the 50s and 60s, with beach music mixed in – Willie T, the Four Tops, Ben E. King, the Drifters … On the request show from noon to 1 pm., I go with older requests. People can call in their requests to ted@949thesurf.com or call the request line at 843-445-9494.
“The Grahams [Surf owners Harvey and Celine Graham] have given me a wonderful chance here. I love it,” Ted beams.

It’s contagious. I beam back. How lucky am I to spend so much time talking to folks like Ted Bell?

This piece was published in Beach Newz, a music column in Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, issue March 12 – March 26, 2009, page 24.

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