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Bville’s Jack Wheeler once ruled airwaves in Pittsburgh

By Diana New He’s been around the world and back again from broadcasting in Pittsburg to hang gliding in Costa Rica. Sensational radio personality Jack Wheeler has once again found his home in Barnesville after working as a talk show host at the nation’s first radio station and acquainting himself with some of the nation’s finest celebrities from Frank Sinatra Jr. to Lucy Arnaz and Charles Schultz. Wheeler attended Gordon Military College in Barnesville where his English professor Marion Bush taught him the word ‘˜onomatopoeia’ and the depth of its meaning. Wheeler grasped a new understanding for the word and it helped inspire his career, eventually leading to his undertaking in becoming part of a team of talk show hosts who not only kept listeners well informed but well entertained at Pittsburg’s original hit station KDKA. Wheeler’s show followed Ed and Wendy King’s Party Line as he spoke with callers and celebrities from midnight to 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Later, Wheeler had the opportunity to anchor Wink TV’s Channel 11 in Florida. ’I’ve been in love with broadcasting all my life,’ Wheeler reflected. ‘I was just a man born in south Georgia and I figured if I could talk to big named celebrities, others could as well. It was a good feeling knowing that I could bring celebrities into people’s homes through broadcasting and let others in on these celebrities lives.’ Wheeler met many celebrities and gained their admiration in the process. Lucy Arnaz wrote a thank you note to Wheeler describing him as, ‘One ‘˜heck’uva nice guy and extremely clever.’ Wheeler received similar sentiments and signed pictures from many other celebrities including Sanford and Son’s Redd Foxx, Peanuts’ creator Charles Schultz, Batman’s original Joker Cesar Romero, The Mills Brothers, Frank Sinatra Jr. and more. Frank Sinatra Jr., in particular, had a lasting friendship with Wheeler. Wheeler met Ol’ Blue Eyes’ son early on in Sinatra Jr.’s career and was able to get him on the show at KDKA. After the show, Wheeler and Sinatra Jr. often kept in touch through phone calls and letters. In spring 2011, after Wheeler moved back to his home state, Sinatra Jr. agreed to perform in Barnesville. ’Jr. called me up one day and said he was in Albany on tour,’ Wheeler explained. ‘I asked him if he could stop by Barnesville, and after calling the mayor, we were able to arrange a performance at the Fine Arts Center.’ The performance benefitted the Lamar County Schools Fine Arts Center and attracted a full house. Wheeler described Sinatra Jr. as one of the most sincere people he had ever met and asserted that he would have made his way back to Barnesville if he were still around. Wheeler is proud of his daughter, nurse practioner Susan Walter Evans, and her three sons and two grandsons. Barnesville’s own talk show celebrity loved his career and continues to maintain a strong bond with broadcasting in his retirement. ’There’s something great about talk shows in broadcasting,’ Wheeler said. ‘You can get music and news just about anywhere – but you can’t always get talk radio.’ Wheeler’s career lives on in his sentiments and in the hearts of his show’s listeners and participants, as well as those who have read his story and listen to talk radio today.

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