Roger grew up in East Hillsborough County and graduated from Brandon High School in 1948 with a desire to get into radio. However, that was difficult back then because the Tampa stations were mostly in the downtown area, quite a distance from where he was living at the time. The CBS affiliate, WDAE, was on top of the Tampa Terrace Hotel and WFLA was in the Seminole Furniture building at Grand Central and Hyde Park Avenues.
After graduation, Roger took a job with General Auto, an auto parts store in downtown Tampa. While working there he got to know Jack King, a store customer that came in from time to time who was also a WDAE engineer. One day he mentioned his interest in radio to King and was told to stop by the station and fill out an application. After taking the suggestion, he gave his notice several weeks later to General Auto and started work at WDAE as a control room operator. Today, the closest term fitting that job title would be board operator, or board op. But back then, the job carried more responsibility than the typical board op of today.
Once with the station Roger learned what he was expected to do from Bobby Weeks, who had moved into sales, and Woody Bell, who had transferred to engineering. During his time there, he worked with other WDAE personnel like Ken Skelton, Mark Swingley, Vince Meloy, Sol Fleischman, Chaz Roye, and Ed Walker. One staffer he worked closely with and ran the board for was Van Wilson whose daily live show featured him playing familiar songs on the studio Hammond organ.
By 1953, Roger thought he had gone about as far as he could go at WDAE and turned his interests to television. Since his mother was a good friend of Louie Link, chief engineer at WSUN, she inquired on his behalf if they were expecting any openings in the TV production department. Not long afterwards a letter came offering Roger a job as a “floor man” with the St. Pete station.
Roger stayed with Channel 38 until he was drafted into the Army in October 1954. During his stay in the service, he kept in touch with some of his former WSUN buddies and learned a second TV station had gone on the air in Tampa Bay – WFLA-TV Channel 8. Near the time he was to be discharged in 1956, one of his former co-workers who had migrated to the new station arranged for him to get an interview with George Geiger, head of the station’s production department. The meeting went well and Roger was hired on the spot and told that he would be working under Jack Breit. During his years with WFLA, he moved from the production department into news and served as a news photographer until 1961.
After leaving the broadcast business, Roger became a deputy sheriff and served over ten years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office before leaving to work for General Telephone’s security department in the 70’s. In 1996, he retired from GTE and moved from his home in Valrico to Chautauqua, New York the following year to care for a family member. Today (2008) he’s still there, and says he doesn’t get back to the Sunshine State much except to visit his son and his wife who still live in the Tampa Bay area.
1950 - 1953 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Board Operator)