Dick Plessinger, 1934-2006

Broadcaster; former chairman of Telocator

Richard L. Plessinger Sr.. Richard L. Plessinger Sr.

Richard Lee “Dick” Plessinger Sr. died on Dec. 19, 2006, at Hospice of Hamilton in Hamilton, Ohio. He was 72. He joined RCA in 1979 and became a Fellow in 1985.

Dick was born in Union County, Indiana, and spent most of his life in Hanover Township, north of Hamilton, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He moved to St. George Island, Florida, about 18 years ago. He developed a shopping center at 35 Island Drive in Eastpoint, Florida. He applied for licenses for two new FM broadcast stations and built them himself, locating the studios in the shopping center. The two stations are WOYS-FM 100.5 and WOYC-FM 106.5.

“Don’s lifetime commitment and devotion to wireless communications is unparalleled and has greatly enhanced the safety of Oregon’s citizens and Public Safety employees,” said Superintendent McLain. “His national leadership and passion for the public safety community has had a far reaching impact while ensuring constant improvement of the vital communication life-line on which so many public safety employees depend.”

In early 2006, Dick participated in an FCC auction for a license for a new digital TV station on channel 3 in Apalachicola, Florida. He made an upfront payment of $80,000 in the auction, and he was not the winning bidder. The net provisional winning bid was placed by Word of God Fellowship for $1,366,000.

I didn’t know Dick, although his name was familiar to me when I leafed through RCA’s membership directory some months ago. The reason was because he was a past president of Telocator Network of America, a trade association of radio common carriers (RCCs). I became aware of the trade association in 1983 as a new editor at a radio communications magazine. Dick probably was president for a short time; the job of Telocator president in those days was a volunteer position held by a member. I believe the head of the paid staff was known as the executive director. Dick also served as a member of the association’s board of directors.

After noticing his name in the directory, I tried to telephone Dick to ask him about his Telocator days, but I didn’t reach him. I didn’t know it, but possibly by that time he was concentrating on recovering from bladder cancer. Cancer returned to affect his liver and became more widespread, leading to his death.

Tom Stroup, an RCA member who later was president of Telocator as the head of the paid staff, said: “Dick was one of the pioneers of the industry and worked tirelessly to secure interconnection rights for the carriers. Imagine where the cellular industry would be today if that battle had not been won.”

Biographical information about Dick in RCA’s records is sketchy. Using other sources, I pieced together that he worked as a broadcast engineer and became an entrepreneur in RCC paging and mobile telephone, and in broadcasting.

He presented a technical paper, “Use of 15 kHz Offset Channels for Radio Common Carriers in the 150 MHz Band,” at the 26th Annual Conference of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Group in 1976 in Washington, D.C.

“As a teenager, [Dick] developed a two-way radio system, which he broadcast out of his parents’ home in Oxford. He went on to develop a paging system and ran several businesses that offered car phone service before cellular technology was developed. He worked as an engineer at WMOH-AM (1450) in Hamilton for a number of years before starting a business that serviced two-way radios in Butler County. He developed a paging system in the early 1970s and installed and serviced car phones. [He] owned Kentucky Communications, a paging and mobile phone service provider in Covington, Kentucky; Miami Valley Radio Telephone in Hamilton, Ohio; and Beep Alert in Richmond, Indiana,” Rebecca Goodman wrote in a story for the Enquirer.

Dick sold Kentucky Communications to C.Q. Communications of Fort Meyers, Florida, in 1985. It appears as though he sold Miami Valley Radio Telephone in 1986 to Communications Center in Cincinnati, or merged his company with the other.

In 1984 he bought a broadcast station, WLYK-FM in Milford, Ohio, serving Cincinnati, changing the call letters to WJOJ. The station now is WKFS, known as KissFM.

07.7 WAXZ Today's Best Country

By 1985, he purchased WAXZ-FM 97.7, Georgetown, Ohio, from Jacor Communications. The station serves Cincinnati, but perhaps with a limited signal. He later added WAOL-FM 99.5 to the same location. His company, Plessinger Radio Group, sold the stations for $4.1 million in 2004. The two stations now broadcast the same program on the two frequencies to better cover the city.

WCVG All-Elvis

On April 7, 1987, Dick purchased 500-watt daytime-only WCLU-AM 1320 in Covington, Kentucky, serving Cincinnati, and changed the call letters to WCVG. He moved the station to share space with WJOJ. He improved WCVG by adding a nighttime signal. In a move that made national news, on Aug. 1, 1988, the station became “All-Elvis,” playing only music recorded by Elvis Presley. The station made news again when on Aug. 16, 1989, the 12th anniversary of the singer’s death, WCVG ended the “All-Elvis” program, switching to business news.

WCVG

Dick sold WCVG in July 2006 for $1.9 million. By then the station had moved on from business news to play country music and sports/talk programs for a short while, and had a long run with urban gospel music. The new owner changed the station to regional Mexican programming in the Spanish language, calling it “Radio La Ley.” Interestingly, the gospel music program continued as streaming audio on the wcvg.com website. The wcvg.com website made it look as though WCVG continues to air gospel music. The wcvg.com website later went defunct.

Radio La Ley 1320 AM. ‘La Estacion del la Raza’ — Radio La Ley 1320 AM

The sources I found did not indicate when Dick sold WJOJ or WKFS, but by the time he sold WCVG, that was the only remaining Ohio station he owned.

One of Dick’s sons, Richard L. “Rick” Plessinger Jr., continues in the broadcasting business as the manager of “Oyster Radio” WOYS-FM 100.5 in Apalachicola, Florida, and “Oyster Country” WOCY-FM 106.5 in Eastpoint, Florida. The two stations serve the same Gulf Coast area in the Florida panhandle south of Tallahassee.

Jim Welsh, who writes the Lanark News column for a newspaper, the Times, published in Apalachicola and Carrabelle, told me that he met Dick soon after he relocated to Florida. “He was civic-minded, and he sponsored all of our goings-on around here,” Jim said of Dick. “I think it’s significant that since he founded the radio stations, all but two of the original employees are there. He must have been doing something right.”

Welsh said that Dick drove “a pink jeep with turquoise lettering and the radio station’s oyster with sunglasses on it. He was always there for the jeeping festival and the auction for the fire department. After the news, he would do a county spot and announce all the meetings, and he was always there to help,” Welsh said.

WOCY Oyster. WOCY’s ‘Oyster’

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