Carl Lamm, 92, America’s longest continuous radio broadcaster with 72 years on the air, will retire March 31. Mr. Lamm, who was born in Spring Hope, owns and operates WTSB AM 1090, FM 105.5 in Selma-Smithfield, will sign off the air after his last show on Friday, March 29. WTSB will sign off the air on Sunday, March 31.
“Broadcasting has been my calling, it’s been a passion to entertain people. I’ve had a great time over the past 72 years – but it’s time to call it quits,” said Mr. Lamm, a member of the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame. “There are many memories for sure, I was working during Hurricane Hazel at WCKB in Dunn when the wind blew the weathervane off the building and also a barn roof next to the station got lifted up and thrown into a field.”
“The sports memories are special too,” said Mr. Lamm, a longtime associate with New York Yankee greats Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. In 1971, The Raleigh Hot Stove League named Carl Lamm the N.C. Sports Broadcaster of the Year noting his more than 500 interviews with Major League Baseball players and other sports figures.
“I dedicated myself, my family and my career to serve the community, to work to make Johnston County a better place to live, to work, to raise a family,” said Mr. Lamm. “I’ve been proud of the work I have done over the years.”
“Oh, I’ve seen a lot of change – tobacco for instance was ‘King’ of the county for decades. I enjoyed serving as the sales supervisor for the Smithfield Tobacco Market for seven years.”
Some of Mr. Lamm’s other accolades are News and Observer Tar Heel of the Week, a feature on WRAL Tar Heel Traveler, Smithfield-Selma Chamber Distinguished Citizen of the Year, Johnston County Living Legend Award and a broadcaster recognition by Our State Magazine.
The country and southern gospel entertainment industries often called on Mr. Lamm as a broadcasting leader. Cash Box Magazine named him as one of the nation’s top country music DJs and his Top 10 most requested records often appeared in the weekly industry magazine. Mr. Lamm was a frequent guest at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., which was broadcast weekly on powerhouse station WSM AM-650.
Throughout his career, Mr. Lamm worked mainly in Johnston County to uplift individual citizens. He formerly served as president of the Smithfield Rotary Club. He established the Rotary Radio Day in 1972 and raised more than $350,000 for local charities. In 2003, Mr. Lamm established the Carl and Margie Lamm Scholarship. This is awarded annually to a student at Johnston Community College. Mr. Lamm is a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary and a recipient of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor – The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Mr. Lamm has been a fierce advocate for Johnston County’s public schools, working with Superintendent Evander S. Simpson to create a weekly radio show featuring students and educators in our public schools across the county.
Mr. Lamm taught a Sunday School class for more than 50 years.
“My faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ, has been the driving force throughout my life,” he said. “I have tried to live a life based on my faith and commitment to serving the Lord.”
Mr. Lamm began his broadcasting career at WCEC in Rocky Mount in 1947. He worked at WCKB in Dunn for almost 10 years before becoming part-owner and operator of WMPM in Smithfield in 1958. He and son, Mickey, purchased WTSB 1090 AM in 2007.
Mr. Lamm is a veteran of the United States Naval Reserves. He was married to Marjorie for 63 years before her death in 2015. He is the father of three children, Travis, Lynda and Mickey, a grandfather of eight, and great-grandfather of seven. He resides in Four Oaks.
In 2009 he authored a book about his life and long career with the help of Doris Cannon. It is entitled “Sixty-Three Years on the Air, My Life and Times.”
“It’s time to slow down a little. I’ve worked my whole life. It’s time for some time for myself. It’s been an honor to be a part of the lives of so many fine people in Johnston County,” he said. “You have let me come and be a part of your day, to be with your family. I hope I have been able to touch you in a very caring and special way – helping you smile and be more informed. It’s been wonderful, and I am truly grateful to my advertisers and sponsors who have allowed me to work for the past 72 years. It would not have happened without their love and support.”
— WTSB News