Salisbury radio pioneer Tom Harrell has passed away at 98
Former owner of WSTP and WRDX devoted later life to helping veterans
SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Tom Harrell, the well-known former owner of Salisbury radio stations WSTP and WRDX passed away on Tuesday, according to family friends. Harrell was 98.
“He gave me my first full time job,” said New York radio personality and Salisbury native Helen Little. “After I got the air I’d go into his office and talk radio and life for hours. I owe so much of my success to him. He was a true broadcaster, mentor, kind and generous soul.”
“Tom Harrell was a first class broadcaster and a tremendous credit to the business. His insistence on doing it right is a quality that is sorely missed these days,” Al Spainhour wrote in a social media post.
WSTP signed on New Year’s Eve in 1939 in a studio at what was then the Yadkin Hotel. The station’s call letters actually stood for “Salisbury Time and Post,” since the owners of the Salisbury Post also were part owners of WSTP.
In 1963 Tom Harrell bought WSTP and owned the station for the next forty years. The station was located on Statesville Boulevard until it moved to the WSAT studios in 2014.
Harrell added WSTP-FM, later WRDX 106.5, to simulcast some WSTP programming along with its own format of country music.
Following the sale of WSTP and WRDX, Harrell devoted much of his time to helping veterans in Rowan County. A World War II veteran, Harrell was one of the organizers of the veterans coffee events at Thelma’s restaurant in the West End Plaza.
In 2017 Harrell was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine, the highest civilian honor awarded by the state of North Carolina.
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