Longtime Myrtle Beach area radio personality dies

October 15, 2012 

Bill Norman gave more than a voice for North Myrtle Beach, on and off the radio.

The owner of Norman Communications’ WNMB-AM 900 and co-owner of WVCO-FM 94.9 “The Surf” died during the weekend, and fellow broadcasters and residents spoke of how he always went beyond his call of duty in everything he did.

Matt Sedota, general manager of Fidelity Broadcasting’s easy listening station simulcast on WEZV-FM 105.9 in Myrtle Beach and WGTN-FM 100.7 in Georgetown, said Fidelity sold WNMB to Norman in 2001.

“Bill was one of those guys who don’t exist anymore,” Sedota said. “He was Mr. Local Radio.”

Sedota said Norman multitasked in all phases of operating a radio station, as a host, producer of commercials, operator of remote broadcasts, and by attending North Myrtle Beach City Council meetings.

“They don’t make them like him anymore,” Sedota said, bringing up how corporate ownership has changed the radio field.

“He brought a whole different perspective to North Myrtle Beach. … He lived it and breathed it every day. … I think he loved every minute of it, being there and doing it, and making it happen.”

Patrick Dowling, spokesman for North Myrtle Beach, said city officials “worked very closely” with Norman in the past several years, under contracts for WNMI-FM 98.7, the city’s 24-hour information station and talk shows every Wednesday.

“He certainly went beyond what was expected,” Dowling said. “He was always involved and caring about the community. … He left some big shoes to fill, on the radio and out and about in the community, and as a friend. He was concerned about everything that took place in the city.”

Dowling also saluted Norman for “a lot of behind-the-scenes” good deeds that went unknown by the public.

Mikey Hough, who owns Water Dog Promotions in North Myrtle Beach, which produces the city’s annual Mayfest on Main, called Norman wonderful and kind. She said she and her late husband, Skipper Hough, first worked with Norman at the start of the last decade and with the Mayfests beginning in 2006.

“He was just willing to do more than he was expected to do,” Hough said. “When you paid him for advertising, you didn’t have to worry about it not being done right, and he always showed up and supported every event.

“He was, what I would say, an intimate friend without being intimate,” she said.

Diane DeVaughn Stokes, a longtime Myrtle Beach-area TV and radio personality, praised Norman for being “such a community supporter.”

“Just ask anyone in North Myrtle Beach,” Stokes said, “and they’ll tell you that his microphone was always open to nonprofits who needed extra publicity. He could have been in a much larger market, but he proudly called the Grand Strand home.

“He was an old-time radio guy who believed in the way radio was done in years gone by, not automated and canned, like so many stations today.”

Ted Bell, whose show on WVCO airs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, said he first met Norman more than 20 years ago, starting at a station Norman operated in Albemarle, N.C., and they stayed in touch through the years, after Bell moved to work “in the mountains.”

“When I came back to the beach in 2003, he accepted me,” Bell said, impressed by “what he said was gospel. One time, he told me, when I was getting ready to leave Albemarle, ‘You know you have a lifetime contract here if you want to come back.’”

Bell also worked for WNMB middays in 2011, when WVCO went off the air, then returned after the Norman-Worley partnership “brought back ‘The Surf.’”

“He will be missed, and he is missed,” Bell said, noting Norman lost his life too young, in his early 60s. “He was a good communicator … and a good human being.”

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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