The mouth of Choctaw County Butler celebrates Henry T.' Day
FAN CLUB WPRN-FM's Henry "Henry T." Tyson, sitting left, broadcasts live at a celebration held for him on the Choctaw County Courthouse square in Butler. Pictured with him are, from left, friend and fan Billy Boykin, WKZB-FM disc jockey Steve O'Connor, Choctaw County E-911 Chairman Franklin Boney, Mark's Music Machine sound technician Mark Roberts, former WPRN radio celebrity Ken Osbourn and Choctaw County Appraiser Jimmy Graham. Photo by Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
March 24, 2001
BUTLER, Ala. With banners and balloons flying all over Butler, a large crowd gathered Friday at the Choctaw County Courthouse square to honor long-time radio celebrity Henry Tyson.
Known throughout the area as "Henry T.," Tyson does the station's morning show and has been a community voice for West Central Alabama and East Central Mississippi for 37 years.
Thornhill and members of this close community came together to organize the "Henry T. Day" celebration. The live-broadcast party was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., but Thornhill said people began arriving at 8:30, bringing homemade food and helping to set up.
Steve O'Connor of Meridian's B93 the Buzz was there to broadcast with Tyson. People Tyson hadn't seen in years including former WPRN disk jockey Ken Osbourn wandered up to the courthouse square and mingled with regular listeners.
Tyson made everyone who didn't back away talk on the air between country songs. All of them shared stories about Henry T. and his commitment to WPRN and his community both on the air and clustered in groups on the lawn.
Tyson said he got into the radio business because "it was better than plowing a mule." He got his engineer's license in January 1966 at Elkins Radio Institute in Atlanta, a "long way from the pea patch in the Griffin Mills community" he calls home.
Tyson said he's had a "license to butcher transmitters" ever since.
One of his most interesting experiences on the air involved a last-minute interview request from a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Butler. Tyson said he agreed to the interview but didn't know who he would be interviewing.
LaRue was doing a promotion for the Baptist church.
Tyson said the other time he was nervous was when he introduced former Alabama Gov. George Corley Wallace on the air. At the time, Wallace was campaigning for his wife, Lurleen, who was elected Alabama's first female governor in 1966.
Tyson said he'd like to get into the consulting end of radio some day, but for now he's enjoying his job on the air.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What people said on the radio:
During a live-broadcast party Friday for WPRN-FM disk jockey Henry Tyson, or "Henry T." as he's known throughout the area, people from the community wandered onto the Choctaw County Courthouse square to visit and share tidbits about their local celebrity. There were judges and attorneys, law enforcement officials, appraisers, truck drivers, business owners and teachers but all agreed Henry T. is the community.
Tommy Campbell, editor
The Choctaw Advocate
Paulette Lafferty, co-owner
Henry T.'s wife