Two Wiregrass radio icons receive ABA Hall of Fame nod

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Alabama Broadcasters Association is inducting its 2021 class into the Hall of Fame later this year.

Those nominee inductions include two women right here in the Wiregrass. Deborah Pearson and Leigh Simpson, both of WOOF F-M have been chosen as two of the five that will receive the honor in August.

For three decades, Pearson has been one of the voices you’ve heard on the radio. She’s been at WOOF since 1992.

“This is something, a dream of mine since high school,” Pearson said.

Pearson says the honor is still sinking in.

“All I keep thinking about are all the years of hard work that has come to fruition. And are now being rewarded for everything I’ve done over the years,” Pearson said.

Her career includes stints in tv and radio, and through some of the toughest moments of her life..

“I guess the most memorable story would be October 31, 1995. And I received a call that there was a car accident. And we go out just like you guys do. We leave the desk and i travel across highway 84 west. And in a large line of traffic. And I drove on the grass and drove up because I didn’t know what was going on. And when i got on the scene and I look to the side and I recognize my father’s truck. So it was my father in a car accident. And he passed away,” Pearson said.

Leigh Simpson is also being inducted. She became the general manager and president at WOOF F-M until late last year. Her family’s time at WOOF dates back to the 1940’s.

“Leighs family owned an operated WOOF radio there since the am went on the air in I think 1947,” said ABA President Sharon Tinsley.

It’s also a very special year for the ABA event. 2021 marks its’ 75th anniversary.

Tinsley says all of this year’s nominees are well-deserved.

“It’s going to be wonderful. This year, I think this class will be especially memorable because it’s an opportunity to bring everybody back together. We’ll always remember this as it was our 75th annual event. And we’re celebrating a diverse class of nominees in a lot of ways from the kinds of careers that these people have had from the two different parts of the state,” Tinsley said.

The induction will be a shining moment for Pearson and Simpson, and one that makes all of the hard days worth it.

“You know, if you look at the careers, at the length of the careers of our nominees, they have certainly had to prove resiliency over the years. They have undoubtedly had to have their own metamorphosis throughout their careers. Many of them did a variety of things during their careers,” Tinsley.

The ABA annual conference is set for August 13th and 14th in Birmingham. The ABA Broadcaster of the Year will be announced then.

The first ever woman ABA Broadcaster of the Year came from Woof. That was Agnes Simpson in 1987. She passed away in 2012.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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