History Cherokee opens “Georgia’s Good Neighbor: The Story of WCHK” exhibit

History Cherokee opened its newest temporary exhibit “Georgia’s Good Neighbor: The Story of WCHK” on October 18 in the Byron L. Dobbs Gallery at the Cherokee County History Center. Visitors to the exhibit will learn about the history of WCHK and its impact on Cherokee County. The exhibit also shares WCHK memories from Cherokee County residents who grew up listening to the radio station.

WCHK was the vision of Charles McClure, a native of Cherokee County. On April 11, 1957, citizens of Cherokee and surrounding counties tuned in to 1290 AM on their radio dials to hear the station’s very first broadcast. Starting with a staff of only five – Mike McDougal, Bob Peterson, Laura McGee, Jim Axel, and Byron Dobbs – WCHK quickly grew into a community resource reporting local news, births, deaths, weather, local events, sports, Sunday school lessons, music, and more.

In a 2007 article in the “Cherokee Tribune,” Peggy Moore, McClure’s daughter, said that starting WCHK “was fulfilling a dream…to give the people of his hometown and county access to news, weather, and events in their own community. WCHK was one way of Dad giving back to the community that had embraced him, his mother, father, sister and brother.”

By the early 2000s, the popularity of radio was waning, and people were increasingly turning to other sources for news and entertainment. In early 2007, just a few months shy of its 50th anniversary, WCHK was sold and went off the air.

“WCHK always strove to be a ‘good neighbor’ to its citizens, and I believe we did it pretty well,” Moore concluded.

Now through January 28, 2024, visitors to the Cherokee County History Center can relive the days of radio and “Georgia’s Good Neighbor” through artifacts and memorabilia, pictures, newspaper clippings, and more.

“It’s important to come see how the history of WCHK was a part of the community,” said Randy Gravley, who got his start in radio at WCHK and went on to start Tri-State Communications with the late Byron Dobbs. “The radio station, from April 11, 1957, when it came on the air, really became part of the fabric of this community, and you can see it through this exhibit. You can see how it played a role from the news aspect to the sports aspect, and it just shows the history of not only Cherokee County but media in Cherokee County.”

This special exhibit is free for History Cherokee members and included in general admission for non-members. Learn more about “Georgia’s Good Neighbor: The Story of WCHK” at historycherokee.org.