Today June 9, 1932 Hal Raymond was born in Hillsboro, Illinois to Tempa Mae (Gerhart) & Orville "Raymond" Nettleship. The family was living at 953 Jefferson Street. In 1950 when Hal was a senior at Hillsboro High School, his parents urged him to go into radio. And he did, working his senior year at WSMI Litchfield. The station was a mile and a half West of Hillsboro. He had the skills and was interested in music - he played trombone in the high school band - and he had a quick, inventive mind and a mellifluous voice.
In Fall 1950 Hal began at the University of Illinois at Champaign, graduating as a journalism major. On December 2, 1954 Harold Raymond Nettleship was inducted into the Army. He served in Germany with Armed Forces Radio Network during the Korean War. On November 14, 1956 Hal Raymond was discharged from service and after New Year 1957, Hal began as a Deejay on WDZ Decatur, Illinois.
By March 1958 Hal had moved to WEEK Peoria, ILL as Program Director and morning man. But towards the end of the year, the West Coast beckoned. Hal, who was now a cutting edge of Rock 'N' Roll deejay, lit out in early 1959 for West Coast Rock 'N' Roll Radio. On the way to San Diego, He got cold feet and returned to Illinois. Hal needed a radio job and landed one in the Northwest - Portland, Oregon.
On May 1, 1959 Hal Raymond became one of the "Swingin' 91 Deejay's" on a brand new Rock 'N' Roll station called "Kisn Radio." Hal's morning show, 6:00 to 9:00am became the first program ever heard on KISN. Hal Raymond was the very first live voice you heard on "The Mighty 91derful." At the time Hal was living in an apartment at 2536 N.E. Hoyt St.
In July 1959 Hal met Buff, his future wife, when a friend of hers had won a mink stole on KISN, which had been given away on Hal's show. Buff's friend wanted to meet the deejay so she and Buff arranged for a double-date with Hal and a KISN co-worker. The friend didn't want to meet the deejay alone. Apparently Rock 'N' Roll deejay's were not to be trusted with a young woman's virtue. The friend and Hal didn't really hit it off. But Hal and Buff did. "Before the night was over, he asked me out," said Buff, "(The other girl) said OK." In August 1959 Hal & Buff got engaged.
On September 1, 1959 Hal Raymond became KISN Operations Manager. As reported in Billboard Magazine September 21, 1959 "At KISN the Hal Raymond Bird Watchers Society and Friends of the Feather continues its daily morning meetings. The early-morning deejay has advised his audience to be on the lookout for such rare types as the "Continual Grouse," the "Hooded Tire Slasher" and the "Double Breasted Square." So far, the only things sighted have been threatening letters in Raymond's correspondence."
On November 9, 1959 Hal Raymond became KISN Program Director. On November 28, 1959 Hal was the first KISN deejay to broadcast from "Kisn Corner" at 10 N.W. 10th Ave. in Portland. Before this, studios were in Vancouver. On January 29, 1960 Harold "Hal" Raymond Nettleship 27, married 21 year old Harriet M. "Buff" Buffam. By April 1960 Hal was now known on Kisn as "The Morning Mayor" which would become his signature through most of his broadcast career.
As reported in Billboard Magazine October 10, 1960 "KISN's "Morning Mayor" one (Coffeehead) Hal Raymond, now has a special crew out in the AM visiting various Portland business concerns. The mobile staff provides free coffee and doughnuts to get the white collar workers awake for the day's work." On November 4, 1960 the Raymond family welcomed son Kevin Raymond Nettleship when he was born. He later followed his father into broadcasting as "Rick Nettles" on WSBA, WYCR, KXL and others. Kevin died July 7, 2012.
In October 1961 Hal Raymond left KISN for KAYO Seattle to do mornings 6:00 to 9:00am. Then in 1962 the Raymond family welcomed their first daughter Julie M. Nettleship when she was born. In September 1962 Hal Raymond left KAYO to become Program Director of KBOX Dallas, Texas and did afternoon drive on "Wonderful K-Box." "1480 Tiger Radio." "Home of The Good Guys." By July 1963 Hal Raymond had joined WDGY Minneapolis, doing mornings 6:00 to 9:00am on "Wee Gee, The Station With The Happy Difference" and on Saturdays Noon to 3:00pm.
In November 1963 Hal Raymond now WDGY Production Manager became the Program Director. On May 29, 1964 the Raymond family welcomed their second daughter Kari Sue Nettleship when she was born. By August 1964 Hal was now doing mid-mornings on WDGY 9:00am to Noon weekdays and Noon to 3:00pm Saturdays.
On September 25, 1964 Hal Raymond and family had moved back to Portland but this time Hal was on KGW weekday mornings 6:00 to 10:00am, on "The Station With The Happy Difference." On November 14, 1964 Hal added Saturday mornings 6:00 to 10:15am. As reported in Billboard Magazine December 5, 1964 "Hal Raymond's "Wake-Up Service" with calls to listeners whose conversations are taped for airplay."
By April 1966 Hal was teaching radio courses at "Columbia School of Broadcasting" 425 S.W. Washington, room 504. By December 1967 Hal was on KGW mornings 6:00 to 10:00am Monday thru Saturdays. In late July 1968 the axe began falling on KGW air staff. In early August 1968 KGW let Hal go.
By December 1968 Hal Raymond had joined KEX. On October 19, 1970 KEX began an ad campaign: "Laugh til your knob falls off. Listen to Hal Raymond, 2-6pm. KEX Radio 1190." You could even send for a poster. By May 1973 Hal was on KEX 8:00 to 10:00pm weeknights. Not the hours Hal was used to and a very short shift. Something had to give.
On July 4, 1973 Hal Raymond began mornings on WSBA 910 AM in York, Pennsylvania. "I thought that was pretty funny." Hal commenting about his starting date. He was once again known as "The Morning Mayor." A friend had told him WSBA had an opening for a morning man so he left KEX. Hal made a splash at WSBA where he would make his home for the next 22 years.
He had his gags, the product of his quick and inventive mind. The Susquehanna Underwater Bridge. Hal had a variety of characters on WSBA such as: Essie McVey, Louie the Garbageman, Ralph the Janitor and Tyler Crump. His humor was always light and never mean. He drove in a demolition derby once and organized a kazoo band for the York City's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. A generation in York County grew up listening to Hal's show.
Jim Horn, WSBA Operations Manager said in 1998: "Raymond held down the pivotal morning slot longer than any other personality in WSBA's 50-plus years of history. And Raymond was a big reason for WSBA's success through the 1970s and '80s. "He was a superheavyweight," Horn said. "And Hal is also one of the genuinely nice people in this business."
By October 1974 Hal Raymond was WSBA, Public Service Director. Then in 1988 WSBA overhauled its format and brought back Ralph Lockwood to work mornings, Raymond played the good soldier and worked off the air. On November 30, 1992 a new WSBA lineup began with Hal Raymond on evenings 8:00 to midnight. "Raymond, a 19-year veteran of WSBA known for his "bad" jokes, will be the host of a show featuring interviews with newsmakers and local personalities, humor features and listener call-in segments."
On January 31, 1995 it was called "Another End of an Era: Today Hal Raymond of WSBA ends over 22 years at the station. Raymond was the morning personality at WSBA for 15 years. While Raymond is leaving WSBA, he isn't leaving radio. "I can't give you the details yet," said Raymond, "but you'll be hearing my voice."
On February 7, 1995 it was announced: "Radio personality Hal Raymond left WSBA on Friday, and by Monday [Feb 6, 1995], Raymond had already found a new place on the dial. Now presiding over the "Maple Donuts Coffee Club", early morning show on WOYK-AM (1350). This show can be heard every weekday morning from 5 to 10 a.m." WOYK was a Country Music station and Hal learned to appreciate Country.
October 20, 1998 York Headline: "RADIO IRON MAN HAL RAYMOND FINALLY CALLS IT QUITS. For nearly a generation, the voice of Hal Raymond helped start the day for thousands of York countians. Hal was a legendary figure in local radio. As the morning drive-time personality for WSBA, Hal's relaxed humor and professionalism helped WSBA stay at or near the top of local radio ratings from his arrival in 1973 to his departure 15 years later.
After today's show, Hal is retiring from WOYK and radio broadcasting after 48 years. Now he has to figure out what to do with himself. "I really don't have any definite plans," said Raymond, who is 66 years old. "Hopefully, I'll do some traveling. I'll have to talk to some people who've already retired and find out what they do."
In September 2003 Hal had some pain in his left shoulder. He wasn't sure what it was and went to the doctor. While the doctor was examining his arm, he noticed that the pad of fat between Hal's left thumb and forefinger was gone. That's not a good sign. That's a symptom of ALS. ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called "Lou Gehrig disease." Hal had some other symptoms - his balance was off - and a neurologist diagnosed him.
By October 2004 "As the disease progressed, Hal began using a wheelchair to get around, but he never complained or lost his dignity -- or his desire to be active," Buff said. Eventually, as the nerves between his brain and his muscles degenerated, he became unable to move. He lost his voice. That was the toughest part. His voice was his living, his signature, his identity. But throughout it all, Hal never lost his inner peace, his wife said. Toward the end, he couldn't even blink to communicate. He could barely nod his head. He didn't want to be kept alive by machines. He had a living will and, before things got too bad, he made sure Buff knew his wishes. When it was time to go, he wanted to go.
On the evening of August 8, 2005 Hal Raymond passed away in his home at age 73 in York. On August 13, 2005 a memorial service was held 11am at Yorkshire United Methodist Church, 125 Edgewood Rd., with visitation beginning at 10am. Hal was a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. For more than 30 years, Hal Raymond had served as host or emcee at countless community events and organizations. He was also dedicated to helping fellow recovering alcoholics. He had been sober the past 38 years.
"Hal was Mr. Everyday - goes to work, boss yells at him, can't get a break. All the tribulations an everyday guy went through," said co-worker and friend Jim Horn. "He was either the hero or the butt of the joke." "He was an absolutely hilarious theater of the mind - stunts jokes and pranks," Horn said. "Hal had a remarkable gift for writing comedy that people would belly-laugh out loud to."
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this radio biography more complete.
References: 440: Satisfaction, Billboard magazine, Broadcasting magazine, The Gettysburg Times, Hanover Evening Sun, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, The Oregonian, Radio Annual, York Daily Record, The York Dispatch.