By La Tonya Frelix/The Hattiesburg American
HATTIESBURG – Charlie Holt is well-known for his stories. Ask him about how he got started in radio, and he’ll tell you his plans were to work his way through law school by announcing radio. Being a lawyer became a distant memory when he was bitten by the radio bug.
Holt owns WHSY talk radio in Hattiesburg and celebrated his 90th birthday on July 22. He shows no visible signs of retirement.
“If I sold out, what would I do? I stay busy every day,” he said. “I exercise 25 minutes every morning, watch my diet; I get a lot of rest. I don’t worry about things. I have a real happy, exciting life.”
He goes to the office at 8 a.m. each week day, and his exercise regime includes working out each leg 100 times each, riding a stationary bicycle for 20 minutes while shaving with his electric razor.
“I can’t believe I’m 90 years old. I don’t drink any alcohol. I don’t smoke. I watch my diet,” he said. “I have good friends, and I have a good attitude. My life’s been quite exciting.”
The Birmingham, Ala., native who grew up in Mobile, Ala., said he’s in the process of writing a book titled, “If I Can Do All These Things, You Can Too” to chronicle his travels and many encounters that made him a savvy businessman. His philosophy about life is really simple – he tries to make each day worth something.
“I guess what happened was I’m a dreamer. I dream about what I can make happen tomorrow,” he said. “I can’t worry about what happened yesterday because that’s gone. I can make tomorrow better if I work at it. I try to make good friends and always try to help anyone.”
During his professional career, Holt’s owned and operated 10 radio stations and been involved in many ventures.
His civic and professional affiliations include the Kiwanis Club, American Heart Association and state broadcast organizations. He’s most proud of his time served with the Sales and Marketing International Professional Association. His time as president allowed him to travel all over the U.S. and internationally.
He said his wife, Connie – who died 23 years ago – urged him to be successful. The two never had children, and Holt never remarried but still wears his wedding ring.
“She was a tremendous asset, and she was my mentor,” he said. “Had it not been for her, I would have been a traveling salesman. She helped me and pushed me forward in our business.
Holt has stories to tell from every adventure he’s had. He’s met six presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and has a story to tell about each.
“I spent 50 minutes with Ronald Reagan, and he never mentioned him being president or his career. He just talked about radio,” he said. “I met Bill Clinton, who was then governor of Arkansas. He’s a brilliant man. Lyndon Johnson was vice president when I met him. He had a potty mouth.”
What’s now WHSY was once WBKH, a country gospel station near bankruptcy when he purchased it in 1948.
The station is currently a news talk and sports station that broadcasts Atlanta Braves baseball games and Auburn University football.
Bill Fulgham was a student at Jones County Junior College in 1966 when he thought he’d take a tour of the radio station.
“I didn’t know there was a job there. I was there to find out about the station. It was amazing,” Fulgham said. “That launched me into a career.”
Fulgham said he admires Holt for his approach to business because he’s honest and open.
Holt’s goal is to be able to help others reach their potential by moving up.