Back in the day when you walked into Charlie Wright’s small home office in Canton you immediately noticed the two walls filled with plaques, certificates and citations – testimony to Charlie’s 60 years in broadcasting, and to a career filled with accomplishments. This latest award was presented to him on June 14th at IBA2007 as Charlie was only the third receipient of the IBA Lifetime Achievement Award. Charlie accepted the award at what would become his last personal appearance at an IBA event.
Charlie Wright, his wife Ruth and daughter Pat arrived in Canton, IL in 1954 when Charlie took the helm of WBYS-AM, a 250-watt radio station that, according to Charlie, was not in such good shape. The station had gone through six managers in several years and was losing money. Harold Windsor, whose family owned the Canton Daily Ledger, interviewed Charlie for the manager job, liked what he saw, and arranged for Charlie to work toward an ownership interest in the station. The Wrights moved to Canton from Charles City, IA where Charlie managed KCHA Radio. Little did he know that within a short six or seven years he would own 49% of WBYS which quickly became a successful voice of the community, while Charlie became a pillar of the community at the same time. He put WBYS-FM on the air in 1968, and he became full owner of the stations in 1972.
Charlie Wright became fascinated with radio as he grew up in Oregon during the Depression. The family didn’t have a radio, so when Charlie got his first job in a lumber yard while in high school he used his first pay check to buy one. “I used to spend Saturday nights listening and asked, ‘How do they do it? How do they get a program from New York to Portland,’ he said (2007).” A visit to a local radio station and Charlie was hooked. After a stint in the Navy during World War II as a radar man, Charlie was on his way. He has served the Canton community and the Illinois broadcasting community in just about every conceivable way. And in doing so he has helped pave the way for generations to come. (taken from Transmitter article by Ken Keller).
Broadcasting lost a dear friend in January 2012 upon the death of Charlie Wright at the age of 92.