WEOW Radio http://weow927.com Today's Hit Music Sat, 29 Nov 2014 01:50:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Bill Becker http://weow927.com/uncategorized/bill-becker/ http://weow927.com/uncategorized/bill-becker/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:06:15 +0000 http://weow927.com/?p=358 Continue Reading]]>  

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By Josie Gulliksen, Florida Keys News Bureau

For 30-some years Bill Becker, news director at Lower Keys–based U.S. 1 Radio 104.1 FM, has provided a soothing, authoritative presence that appeals to Florida Keys listeners. Surprisingly, though his smooth voice and comfortable manner make him a broadcasting natural, working in radio was not his life’s goal.

A native of New York, Becker earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marine biology. Though he wrote for his high school newspaper, he had no radio experience until he came to the Florida Keys and his love of science led him into broadcasting. After graduating in 1971, he accepted a job offer from the Lower Keys’ Newfound Harbor Marine Institute at Sea Camp.

“It was my sole job offer in 1971,” Becker said, “so I drove down with all my belongings in a 1964 Chevy and I worked there for 10 years.”

He taught marine biology to kids and, through outreach programs, became involved in local organizations. He even served as president of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce.

That’s when he caught the attention of David Freeman, a local insurance agent with a broadcasting background who had started a small Key West station called WIIS. Freeman asked Becker to do a 15-minute on-air segment about his work at Sea Camp.

“I would record my segment on cassette with a hand-held tape recorder and mail it to David, who would play it every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m.,” said Becker. “It could barely be heard in Big Pine, but still it gave me the bug for radio — I felt I was creating something positive that people appreciated.”

When U.S. 1 Radio started up in 1980, Becker went to the station and offered to do local news. That was the beginning of his career there. He described radio in those days as a bare-bones affair. The evolution of U.S. 1 started in 1985 when Crain Communications bought the station and invested in new equipment and a new tower. In 2004, Vox Communications bought the station from Crain and continued to expand it.

So committed was U.S. 1 to local news and the community that when Hurricane Georges impacted the Lower Keys in 1998 Becker and his fellow staffers stayed on the air throughout, providing information and comfort to listeners during and after the storm.

Becker credits the station’s incredible team commitment, stellar facilities and sturdy generator (nicknamed Zippy) for making it possible to stay on the air. As well as the only information resource, U.S. 1 was the connecting source between the public, local emergency management personnel and the sheriff’s office.

“Our role in the recovery was problem solving, and the outpouring from the community was very heartwarming,” Becker said. “It was quite an experience to hear people’s voices and know that we were aiding in keeping them calm and giving them information.”

One of his oddest on-air experiences during Georges was receiving a call from his neighbor, who told Becker that half the roof of his home was gone.

“That really hit home for me,” the newsman said. In 1999, U.S. 1 received a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for outstanding coverage during Hurricane Georges.

“Attending the black-tie event to receive the award, and meeting the giants of broadcast news like Walter Cronkite, was a very humbling experience,” said Becker. “To this day, people in the Keys still come up and thank me for what we did and continue to do.”

Later, the station’s efforts were featured in an episode of The Weather Channel’s series “Storm Stories.”

Becker’s work also has led to involvement in other historic moments. He’s done broadcasts in Cuba as part of humanitarian efforts by a local group taking medical supplies and food to the island. And he simulcast live from Key West’s Mallory Square in 1982 when the Florida Keys seceded from the Union and formed the independent Conch Republic.

In addition, he’s co-founder of one of the Lower Keys’ signature events: the annual Underwater Music Festival that spotlights coral reef preservation. Each July, the quirky underwater broadcast draws hundreds of diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, as well as national and international media coverage.

Today, Becker broadcasts the news and hosts U.S. 1’s 90-minute “Morning Magazine” each weekday morning, showcasing local issues and events through commentary and on-air interviews. He’s quick to praise the station’s evening newsman, Ezra Marcus, calling him “a real television and radio pro.”

After nearly 40 years in the island chain, Becker appreciates his tranquil existence on Sugarloaf Key with his wife Bernadette and two daughters and a granddaughter close by.

“I live on a wonderful wooded acre with a pool, a pond and a great garden that I get to tend to year-round,” he said. “I have a great life.”

Posted On: April 13, 2010

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  • Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:41:00 +0000: Two arrested on drug charges - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Two men from the Upper Keys were arrested Tuesday night after a traffic stop revealed the presence of drugs.

    FHP Trooper and K-9 Officer M. Jordan initially stopped the 1998 Mercury sedan for speeding at the 104 mile marker of the highway at 9:40 p.m. Deputy Pedro Garcia backed him up on the traffic stop.


    Two men were in the vehicle. The driver, 21 year old Erdel Yanes of Islamorada and the passenger, 29 year old Jesiah Macshane of Tavernier.


    Subsequent investigations revealed a plastic bag in Macshane’s pocket with Ecstasy pills inside. Macshane also had a plastic bag with Marijuana in his shoe and a large amount of cash in his possession as well. Macshane told Deputy Garcia the pills had been in the center console of the car prior to the traffic stop. He said Yanes told him to put them in his pocket when they were stopped.


    Yanes said the pills belonged to a friend from Homestead who had left them in his car the night before. He said he was on his way to Homestead to return the pills when he was stopped.


    A total of 36 pills, or 11.5 grams of Ecstasy were seized along with 6.5 grams of Marijuana and $4,000 in cash.



    Both men were arrested. They were both charged with trafficking and possession of illegal narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. Macshane was also charged with possession of Marijuana. They were both booked into jail.

  • Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:39:00 +0000: Man steals from church while performing community service - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    A Big Pine Key man was arrested for stealing items from a church while he was serving community service there.


    On November 24th, the pastor of the Vineyard Community Church on Big Pine Key noticed a number of items missing from his church, including computer equipment, an air compressor, Nintendo controllers and two recurve bows. The pastor’s son went to a local pawn shop and found the items at the shop. They called the Sheriff’s Office to report the theft.


    Detective Dave Brummer was assigned to investigate. He found out from the pawn shop the items had been brought in by 22 year old Brian Sheppard. During an interview with the detective, Sheppard admitted he was on probation and working community service at the church between August and October of this year. He said he took the  items from the church and pawned them at Molly’s Pawn and More on Big Pine Key.



    A warrant was obtained for Sheppard and on Wednesday, Sheppard was arrested. He was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and fraud. He was booked into jail.

  • Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:03:00 +0000: Graffiti eradication - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Deputy Nancy Roberts, who is currently in training with Deputy Vicki Fleck, spotted graffiti on the Geiger Key Bridge on Old Boca Chica Road. They  gathered the necessary supplies and painted over the graffiti. Great job keeping our community clean!
  • Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:58:00 +0000: Sheriff’s Office remembers fallen officer - Monroe County Sheriff's Office


    The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is remembering this week an officer who died in the line of duty six years ago, November 26th, 2008.


    Sheriff's Deputy Nick Pham was killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident. Deputy Pham was working traffic patrol for the Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Unit when his patrol car collided with a semi-tractor trailer truck at the 62 mile marker of highway U.S. One at 12:20 p.m.



    Deputy Pham was hired on September 15, 2004. He was initially assigned to road patrol in the upper Keys in Sector 7 – the Key Largo area. In July of 2006, he transferred to the Traffic Enforcement Unit, working traffic enforcement county-wide.

  • Sun, 23 Nov 2014 12:19:00 +0000: Highway cleanup - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    This small but mighty group took care of our adopted stretch of highway from the 88 to the 89 mile marker of U.S. One this week.
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