(L-R) Bill Gargano and the late Juke Van Oss in 2003 photo.

via Peg McNichol, www.whtc.com

Sixty years ago, Bill Gargano turned on WHTC’s microphone and started talking, inviting listeners to call the station.

His idea of a radio show aimed at letting people get things “off their chest and onto the radio” turned into a show so neighborly, listeners often felt as if they were talking over the backyard fence – back when that was a pretty typical experience in and around Holland.

Gargano arrived in Holland after working in Sault Ste. Marie’s radio station. He arrived in 1952, then left — but returned in 1959, after a stint at a Wisconsin radio station. He carried the idea of the talk show from Wisconsin, where he’d help start just such a program.

Gargano remembers being impressed with Holland’s small-town atmosphere and how clean the city was. He liked the idea of the Wisconsin talk show, but it was a hard sell for his boss, Sandy Meek, who thought it was an oddball idea that wouldn’t fly in Holland.

Still, Meek gave Gargano a week to test the idea.

The phones lit up, and soon, the daily show, which they called Talk of the Town, had a sponsor: Grocer Paul Baker.

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