By John J. Duncan Jr.

We are lucky to have a good local radio station like 98.7 WOKI with its all-star roster of outstanding hosts. Its host and co-hosts seem to care about East Tennessee and its people, and they help keep us informed and together as a large community.

Hallerin Hilton Hill is a long-time friend and a man I really admire and respect. At her request, he gave the eulogy at my late wife’s funeral, something for which I will always be grateful.

He treats his callers with kindness and respect and helps guide his programs in a very thoughtful and polite way and keeps things on a high plane. He has the perfect temperament for a talk show host and keeps his cool some times when others might lose it.

Hallerin was my first caller on 9-11 and he had me on his program from my office in Washington, D.C. That led my wife to call one of my staff to tell me to “get out of there!” because there were reports that one of the planes was headed for the Capitol.

Hallerin and his co-host, Chris Marion, who is also a friend of mine, both have a good sense of humor. One afternoon, they asked listeners to call in with jokes. That day became the first and only time I ever called in with a joke.

I remember one day at a stoplight on Henley, I started laughing when Hallerin was telling about his then-young daughter asking why he was putting “girlie” color on his hair.

Phil Williams is another friend, and I have played golf with him a couple of times. Once, I heard him say he was going to play at Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, that weekend. I had played there with a church group many years ago, and there was a sign in the pro shop that said trees are 90% air. I called Phil just after he had gotten off the air and asked him to see if that sign was still there and if it was to tell them that is the lying-est sign in the world.

Phil’s program is different every day and always entertaining. Where else could I get the variety of topics?…from facts about Abraham Lincoln to Stupid News or even the fact that it was National Lemon Meringue Pie Day?

I remember once when he interviewed a six-year-old named Sam and asked him very seriously if he was married, and when the boy said no, Phil asked him if he had any prospects.

Phil is East Tennessee through and through. He is a dedicated Presbyterian and just an all-around good man.

Bob Yarbrough is a cultured, sophisticated man about town, or at least that’s what his introduction says. He and I have in common that we both went to Boys State, although my program was many years earlier.

On Bob’s program, I found out that our area code of 865 stands for VOL. I had never realized that before. I also have gotten to know regulars like Joe of Speedwell and Marilyn from Blount County.

I also appreciated the intelligent, rational way he informed people about Covid and that what some people called misinformation was really a difference of opinion between two or more well-informed people. I have also enjoyed Bob’s programs on the history of Knoxville.

I appreciate WOKI’s national programs, too. I admit I was disappointed when they replaced the Rush Limbaugh program with Dan Bongino, but I was wrong. I now really enjoy Dan’s show, and always learn something important from it.

But I mainly enjoy all the local personalities. When I was in Congress I used 98.7 as one of several ways for me to stay informed about what my constituents were thinking on all the important national and international issues.

In a day when there is so much liberal and even left-wing bias in the media, it is good to have a station like 98.7 that is at times conservative and at other times non-partisan and fair to all viewpoints.

This station stands as a guardian of free speech, and this is especially important in a day when so many of our colleges and universities have become little more than leftist brainwashing factories and often don’t even allow conservatives to speak to classes or at graduation ceremonies.