The reel of tape arrived via FedEx from an old friend along with a note:
I was cleaning out an old box of memories from my days at WROV and I came across this. It is a recording of your farewell show on "Teen Town" with Fred Frelantz in 1969. It thought you might want to have it.
|Fred Frelantz (left) with broadcasting buddy Jack Fisher in 1984. (Photo courtesy of WROVhistory.com).|
In 1968 and 69, I worked with Fred Frelantz on a Saturday show on WROV radio in Roanoke where students from Roanoke area high schools would help rate new records and discuss the issues of the day. Fred would handle the music and I would pick a current events topic for discussion and serve as moderator.
I had to dig up an old Teac reel-to-reel recorder to listen and the tape was in really bad shape. It was the last show I did with Fred and the kids before leaving Roanoke to take a newpaper job at the Alton Telegraph in Illinois. I couldn’t believe how deep a Southern drawl I had at the time.
Fred didn’t know it at the time but his days at WROV were numbered. Later that year he would be driven out by a new management team who thought him too old for ROV’s teen-aged audience. WROV AM broadcast its last live show in 1998, ending its run with Don McLean’s American Pie (The Day the Music Died). According to WROVhistory.com, the AM station, then part of the Capstar Broadcast Group of Austin, Texas, changed its call letters to WGMN and switched to an all-sports format.
For a while during my four years in Roanoke, Fred and I lived in the same apartment building: the Jefferson Apartments on what is now part of the Carrillion Hospital Property on Jefferson Street across from Elmwood Park. It had the haughty name of "The Jefferson on Jefferson" and had an old elevator with a metal gate.
Fred’s real name was Fredrick David Wilson Mugler III. We became friends, partied together, sometimes dated the same girls and enjoyed the swinging life of Roanoke in the 60s.
I wrote a column and edited a page aimed at younger readers of The Roanoke Times and Fred invited me to join the Teen Town show in 1968. We discussed a number of controversial topics on the show: abortion, the Vietnam war, drugs. Sometimes, listeners got upset. Fred was used to controversy. I was learning to get used to it.
Fred also played with The Vikings, a local folk group that included Tommy Holcomb. When he left ROV, Fred joined Holcomb and John Hartmann at Creative Advertising. Hartmann was a fast-talking con artist who came to town on a motorcycle with his girlfriend on the back and convinced ROV owner Burt Levine to hire him as a marketing director — convincing Levine he had extensive marketing experience. In fact, he had none, and went to the Roanoke Public library to check out every book he could find on marketing and study them before starting the job.
Fred and Hartmann eventually parted ways. Fred remained in Roanoke, doing voice overs on commercials and playing with The Vikings. I saw the group a few times at the Coffee Pot on Brambleton and we would talk about the old days and laugh about some of our more inane antics.
Fred died of smoke inhalation from a fire in his apartment in 1986 when a cigarette he dropped while watching TV started a fire in a chair after he went to be.
Updated 12/05/08 to correct and ad information about the circumstances of Fred’s death. My thanks to Pat Garrett of wrovhistory.com for providing the informatation.