Radio icon Fred Fox has passed away
LAURINBURG – Although he wasn’t born here, you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger champion for the Scottish county than Fred Fox, said Sandy Callan, WLNC chief information officer.
Fox, a broadcaster known as ‘The Voice of the County of Scotland’, died of a heart attack on Saturday. He was 75 years old.
A memorial service will be held today at 11 a.m. at the Laurinburg Presbyterian Church with military honors.
The Columbia, SC native began his local broadcasting career with WEWO in the 1970s and took over ownership of WLNC in 1989.
Fox might seem abrasive if you didn’t really know him, according to Callan, who started working for the station the year before.
âFred was a person who could make you angry when you first met him, but he was the nicest, most generous, gentle person you would want to meet,â Callan said. âHe expected a lot from us, but we weren’t working as an employee / employer. It was a family and we all cared about this station.
Fox was a hands-on leader, encouraging young employees and part-time workers at the station to always be as professional as possible and seek out local interests.
An example of this is illustrated by Fox’s support for an emerging group.
âA group of kids who were high school buddies wanted to start a group. Fred let them use the back room, âCallan said.
These children were Chris Fore and Jim Quick, two of the original members of the group Coastline. Fox continued to support them and promote the group after it took off.
From his musical knowledge, Callan said Fox could not be puzzled. If someone played the opening of a song, Fox could identify it.
“You could take any record from yesteryear, play an opening note of that song, and it wouldn’t fail.” No one could trip him up. I triedâ¦ everyone has tried, âCallan said.
Fox was also a big promoter of the hometown radio mentality that the station still maintains despite being now under new ownership, Callan said.
Shortly after Callan joined the station in 1988, he began the reporting service. When Fox took over, he supported Callan’s efforts and even went the extra mile to bring news to the locals at crucial times.
Callan recalls that during Hurricane Hugo and two other major storms, residents asked the station to stay on air. The threat of a power outage would hamper this effort, but Fox asked EMS to pull out a generator and WLNC was able to broadcast local emergency response efforts and other local reporting during the storms.
âThe power was off everywhere, but we stayed on the air,â Callan said. “We were actually driving and calling live reports, and at one point we were even the contact between the sheriff’s office and dispatchers.”
Fox has supported the County of Scotland in many other ways, according to Callan and others.
“It is doubtful that anyone was a more vocal and positive advocate for Laurinburg and the County of Scotland than Fred Fox,” Beacham McDougald said on Fox’s Facebook page. âHis passing leaves us with a legacy to remember and ponder. “
Fox was a great supporter of Laurinbourg’s efforts to become a sister city of Oban. He worked with Tom Lawson with Oban FM to connect the two stations so that they could broadcast together at times. WLNC even streamed the signing of the twinning proclamation live.
Fox was also well known for his love of local sports, high school youth leagues and the Scottish high school marching band.
âIt would start with kids and parks and recreation and follow them. If there was an outstanding player in high school, he could tell you everything about that player until high school, âCallan said.
Fox was an announcer for the Fighting Scots football matches.
Jeff Maley said the County of Scotland has lost “an icon”.
âIf you played sports when I was growing up, it covered you with the local radio station WLNC,â Maley said. âIf I had a dollar for every time I heard him say ‘Go Scots’ I wouldn’t have to go to work.
When Fox discovered that the Marching Band’s original Scottish diamond wool socks were in disrepair and could not be mended, he threw a radiothon and stayed on the air until enough money is collected to replace them.
Fox was also a long-time member of the Optimist and Rotary clubs and of the Laurinburg Jaycees, a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce. Fox then joined the chamber and received the 2014 Laurinburg-Scotland County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year award in 2014.
âOur thoughts and prayers are with the family of our longtime friend Fred Fox,â the chamber said in a statement. âFred was Scotland’s biggest county fan and promoter. Fred, we love you and we will miss you.
Fox was a retired Marine and staunch supporter of the military and veterans and a member of the American Legion Post 50. He joined the United States Navy after high school and served as a radar operator on the USS Kitty Hawk. .
“Every year on Nov. 10, he would call the duty officer at Camp Lejeune and find out what they were doing for the Marine Corps ball that day, and he fully supported all of the veterans,” Callan said. .
Fox recently served as Grand Marshal for the 2017 Laurinbourg Christmas Parade.
He was born on November 25, 1942, the son of the late Fredrick Barnes Fox, Sr., and Grace Fox Pillsbury. He received a BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Join Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169