Former owner of WKZQ radio, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president dies

04/02/2014 10:51 PM

04/02/2014 10:53 PM

A man some called a legend in the Myrtle Beach broadcast radio community and former president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce died Monday.

Thomas Rogers, 77, was president of the chamber from 1974-1976, said current president and CEO Brad Dean, but likely is better known for his work as owner of WKZQ radio station.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former president, Tom Rogers,” Dean said in a statement Tuesday. “Both he and his wife, Suzette, served as president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and have played a profound role in the chamber’s growth and development. In 2008, Tom was recognized for his vision, business acumen and collaborative nature and presented with the Ashby Ward Pioneer award. We will miss Tom but remain thankful for his many contributions to our community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Suzette, as well as Tom’s family and friends.”

Rogers was involved in a car crash Monday in Myrtle Beach, according to an incident report from Myrtle Beach police. He was driving west on Ocean Boulevard when his car left the road, hitting a curb and then a light pole and a pine tree.

Patrick J. Milan, executive vice president and chief creative officer of Tunheim, said Rogers was instrumental in launching his career as a broadcaster. Milan worked for Rogers and Bill Hennecy who managed the station while he was at Myrtle Beach High School.

“Tom found a way with a small radio station to find and develop some of the best radio talent in the country,” he said. “He launched so many careers out of that little place down there.”

WKZQ was award winning under Rogers and was named best radio station by Billboard Magazine in the 1990s.

“Banana” Jack Murphy also worked under Rogers starting in 1989. Murphy now owns WLSC Tiger Radio, a talk radio station based in Loris.

“He was quite an innovator as far as broadcasters go and gave us a lot of leeway,” he said.

“He really allowed us to develop who we were on air as personalities ... what he allowed me to do there gave me ammunition to do what I do now as owner of my own station.”

Murphy said the radio world under Rogers was made of two people – those that worked at WKZQ and those that wanted to.

SiriusXM’s Human Numan, whose name is Milen Stanjovitch, “was working out in Conway at some country station, just about ready to pack it in,” when he met Hennecy, Greg Fowler and eventually Tom Rogers.

He said that’s where he learned the basics of radio.

“They taught me what radio was supposed to be,” he said.

Rogers was associated with multiple Grand Strand based organizations over the years, according to his obituary.

Rogers was president of the Grand Strand Broadcasters Association from 1966 to 1999. He also was president of the Grand Strand Press Association and was serving as secretary-treasurer and part-owner of the Strand Media Group.

A memorial service will be held for Rogers at 4 p.m. Thursday at McMillan-Small Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to First Tee of the Grand Strand or the Grand Strand Miracle League.

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