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"Rockin' Ray"

(Breaking the barrier:  Rockin' Ray hits WBT in 1973!)

Ray Gooding died early Monday May 14th, 2007 at the age of 68 following declining health.  Ray had suffered a stroke and kidney issues during the two years preceding his death.

Known to Charlotte radio audiences for four decades as "Rockin' Ray" his "The Original Sunday Night Hall of Fame" Oldies show aired every Sunday night beginning in 1973 until 1995 on WBT.   He made the show his own and hosted it for so long that few would remember Ray actually had replaced Mike Ivers as the host on that program.   Ray then moved to Magic 96.1 for a long run on Sunday nights with the "Sunday Night Memory Lane" wrapping up in early 2004.  His radio career began in 1960 at WGIV.  He moved to WRPL in 1968 until stepping up to the WBT microphone. 

In 1995 Ray was awarded a "CAMMY" from the Carolina Beach Music Awards at their inaugural event.  Ray was inducted into the "Rock & Roll Oldies Club of the Carolinas Hall of Fame" in 1999.   In 2005 the Beach Music Association International made him the first recipient of the annual "Rockin' Ray Gooding DJ Award" which will forever be named in his honor. 

Ray wasn't just another DJ.  He was a great humanitarian and is remembered for that as much as for his radio work.  Ray was instrumental in raising huge sums of money for local charities including the annual "WBT PENNY PITCH CHARITIES" campaign and was the Public Affairs Director at WBT for a decade.  Also, it is interesting to note that Charlotte was the one and only radio market where Ray worked which is remarkable for a career spanning four decades.  Most DJ's move town to town and state to state over their career.  Ray was unmistakably a Charlotte radio man.

To say Ray was a Charlotte radio legend would be an understatement,  because he was more.  Ray Gooding was also a pioneer breaking the color barrier in white Charlotte radio when he went to WBT.  Countless people working in the south's mainstream broadcast media can point to Ray as a benchmark, a touchstone, a turning point and inspiration.  His voice of reason was heard by people of all races and backgrounds and clearly understood.  He was as much a part of Charlotte's culture and consciousness as the JFG sign or the local charities he worked diligently to support.     

Hardly an Oldies fan in Charlotte doesn't know this phrase Ray often used going into some commercial breaks:    "...Stick... stay... & don't you ever...go away."                    

                 "We who knew him..."

Brother Dave:  "When I moved to Albemarle from Charleston, SC in 1980 listening to Ray on WBT each Sunday night became one of my first new habits along with Whispering Pines BBQ and Cheerwine.  Ray was a real original and so unlike what was going on elsewhere in Charlotte radio.  When I had to work Sunday nights on WABZ-FM I kept a little radio in the control room there so I could hear Ray on WBT in between what I was doing on WABZ.  It sure was a blast getting to work at the same station with him later.  What some people may not know is that Ray was funnier in person than on the air.  I'll never forget sitting at the same table with him and his guest Maurice Williams at one of the Magic Christmas dinner parties where the stories rolled fast and furious.  Shortly after Ray came to Magic 96.1 we had one of our big music shows at the Independence Arena (then called the Cricket Arena.)  Program director Keith Abrams introduced the entire air-staff.  When he introduced Rockin' Ray I seriously thought the roof would cave in from all the noise.  That was probably the most crowd noise I've ever heard anywhere for any jock.  You could have brought Wolfman Jack out there and they wouldn't have cheered any louder.  If ever there was an "official" list of Charlotte radio "Stars" of the 20th century, Rockin' Ray would have to be very near, if not at the very top of that list."

Eggman:  "Someone told me in my early tenure at Magic that, at one time, Ray was trying to market the 'walkerciser' fitness tool...which basically was a stick. It was a running phrase with Flash during the morning show... 'it's a STICK!'  Ray could also be, as just about everyone knew, equal parts rascal and ladies man. He once told me a story of a lady friend of his who he met online. Ray said he asked her what she looked like and she said Diana Ross, so naturally, Ray told her he looked just like Billy Dee Williams. Most of all I remember a guy who always treated everybody with a great deal of respect. I don't care whether you'd been in the business for twenty minutes or twenty years, when Ray gave you a compliment, you had pretty much made it."   

Ron Harper:  "I remember Ray as a ball of energy from Day One. I produced his promos and helped him edit his interviews for his show on Magic. He was always promoting something. Do you remember the walking exercise stick he invented and patented?  Ray was also instrumental for introducing me to Maurice Williams (who was his neighbor, I believe.) Maurice came to Little Rock to appear live and help with the PBS TV fund raising when they showed the Doo Wop show. Charlotte has not only lost a pioneer of rock and roll radio, but a truly great human being."

Racin' Randy:  "True Story. I was in 8th grade at Spaugh Junior High here in Charlotte and Rockin Ray came to my science class for career day. I didn't realize it at the time that he was such a historical figure. He talked about the technical part of radio, the amplitude modulation and the frequency and how it was controlled by the evil FCC etc..... I guess he rubbed off on me because I don't remember wanting to be anything but a DJ after that day at school with  Rockin Ray.   You can imagine how it felt for me to work with him at Magic stating in the late 90's and I got to see him on occasion, although I usually worked Saturday while Ray worked Sunday. God Speed Ray Gooding and Farewell from a friend."

Keith Abrams:  "When we hired Ray, he brought a great vibe to Magic.....an upbeat, have fun on the air and in the halls vibe, that was infectious to us all. He was a special radio talent and, more importantly, a special person. All these years later, I can still here him .....'stick, stay, don't ya go away!". RIP Rockin' Ray. You are greatly missed."

(More Rockin' Ray content later!)

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