Radio personality Bill Burkett dies at 66
SEVIERVILLE, TN (WRCB)- Longtime radio personality Bill Burkett died Thursday in Sevierville, Tennessee. He was 66.
Burkett, an Ohio native, was a popular voice on several Chattanooga radio stations from 1970 into the 1990s. He was among the first deejays on WGOW-AM (1150) shortly after the station adopted a top-40 rock-and-roll format in 1969. He was among several major-market personalities (a list that includes Cleveland Wheeler, Allen Dennis, Bob "Chickamauga Charlie" Todd, Bill Scott, Bill Miller and Johnny Walker) that formed a 3-station battle for listener supremacy in the early 1970s. The spirited competition between Burkett's WGOW, WFLI and WDXB garnered national attention in Billboard magazine at the time.
Burkett also announced on and programmed stations in Knoxville, Jacksonville, Florida and other cities before returning to Chattanooga in the early 1980s for a stint on WDOD radio. In 1986, he helped establish WLMX (Lite Mix 105), which became a top-3 local station despite a low-power signal. It was there he formed an on-air partnership with Parker Smith. Their morning show became a local favorite, with Burkett playing straight man to the envelope-pushing humor of his younger partner (Smith died in 2010). One of Burkett's last Chattanooga radio assignments was the late-morning time slot on WDEF (Sunny 92.3), following Luther Masingill's show in the 1990s.
For the past several years, he has operated and hosted an afternoon show on Mixx 105.5 (WSEV) in Sevierville, Tennessee. He was diagnosed with cancer early this year, and continued his radio duties until recently.
Tributes from friends and co-workers on Facebook include one from Bill Miller, who describes Burkett as "kind, dignified, and respected by everyone." Danny Howard called him "a treasure." Arrangements will be announced later.