WEOW Radio http://weow927.com Today's Hit Music Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:49:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 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, 05 Mar 2015 15:45:00 +0000: Man arrested for battery with bat - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    A Big Coppitt Key man who hit another man with a bat was arrested Wednesday afternoon.

    The 43 year old victim told deputies he had been hired to mow the lawn at a residence on Barcelona Drive when the suspect, 62 year old Donald Perry, drove by and saw him. The victim said Perry stopped and began yelling at him about issues between the victim and Perry’s daughter.


    During the confrontation, the victim said Perry pulled a 12 inch long bat out of the waistband of his pants and hit him with it on the back of his head and neck. The victim said he refused to fight and walked away. He said another man with Perry tried to stop Perry as he was hitting the victim.


    Deputy Spencer Curry found Perry a short distance away. The bat was found on the front seat of Perry’s truck. Perry said the property the victim was on belongs to him. He said the victim is not allowed on his properties. He said when he confronted the victim about it, the victim was holding a weed whacker in his hands and he said he felt threatened.


    A check in Sheriff’s Office computers showed no trespass warning against the victim for the property. A tenant on Perry’s property said she hired the victim to mow her lawn.



    Perry was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into jail. 

  • Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:11:00 +0000: Easter on the Animal Farm March 22nd - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Mark your calendar and join the Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, March 22nd for the Annual Easter on the Animal Farm celebration!

    Bring the family and join the fun at the farm; the event is free of charge and offers something for everyone. The Easter Bunny will be there and will be available for photos. A giant Easter egg hunt starts at 1 p.m.  Make sure to bring your own Easter basket. There will also be face painting, arts and crafts and, of course, visits with all the animals at the farm.

     
    Mark your calendars and visit the farm for a special Easter celebration on March 22nd between 1 and 3 p.m.

  • Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:08:00 +0000: Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Looking for a quiet alternative to spring break and seasonal crowds? The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday March 8th, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, Kinkajous, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, a skunk, an opossum, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge, but donations are welcomed because that is how the farm is sustained.
    The farm is located just off of College Road, on Stock Island, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters complex. Groups may schedule special tours at the farm by calling Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300. Visits to the farm are free, and donations are welcome.
  • Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:52:00 +0000: Project Alert for 7th Graders - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    The seventh graders of Treasure Village Montessori from Ms. Kate Hofstetter’s class have completed the 11 week “Project Alert” class.  The class, offered to all seventh graders at county schools, teaches resistance skills when it comes to pressure to smoke, drink alcohol and use drugs. Today’s class ended with a commitment essay to stay drug, tobacco, and alcohol free. Here they are with SRO Deputy Larry O’Neill, who taught the class.

  • Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:31:00 +0000: Cadets learn about crime scenes - Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    SRO Advisor Larry O’Neill set up a “crime scene” last week at Plantation Key School and cadets had the opportunity to fingerprint various objects.
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