Fred Frelantz

1984 with Jack

Fred came to Roanoke in 1961 and for the next twenty-five years, became the most popular and best loved celebrity in the city's entertainment and media history. He passed away in 1986, a victim of a fire in his apartment. The following piece was written by his longtime partner and friend, Jack Fisher.

Goodbye to a Radio History Maker...

He came to Roanoke in 1961 and thereafter became a part of everyone's best youthful memory. He was "Dr." Fred Frelantz, and he was WROV.

Fred was everyone's friend. Like his fellow Oklahoman, Will Rogers, he never met a man he didn't like.

The 1960s were a special time in Top 40 radio. It was a time of contests, record hops and stunts, and Fred, a very inventive and creative guy, did them all.

Who ever will forget his "Wake-a-thon" in 1964 when he returned to WROV from a brief stint in the army to stay awake, broadcasting all the while, for seven days from a trailer at Towers Shopping Center?

Or the time in 1966 during the Fisher-Frelantz days when we decided to hide an "Ide" to celebrate the Ides of March? I mean, after all, who would ever find an ide? Fred climbed to the top of a railroad trestle to hide this ide -- a stuffed animal with a sign saying "I am an Ide" -- only to have it drop to the ground and be discovered after the first clue on our show.

Together, Fred and I did literally hundreds of rock 'n' roll shows. Everything from getting soaked with Herman's Hermits at Victory Stadium, to all of the early rock shows at the Salem Civic Center. We will be forever linked in the minds of many radio listeners, having worked together for six years at WROV at a time when many of today's Roanoke citizens were growing up.

I was always flattered by the association. It was amazing how we worked so well together right from the start. In fact, Fred and I were talking recently about how, after a period of many years, we just flowed right back into our old pattern when we got back together in the early 1980s for our monthly oldies show on WROV. It was just like riding a bicycle -- we never forgot how to do it.

And what about Fred away from the mike? The song "Mr. Bojangles" forever will be associated with this man; he sang it to an inevitable standing ovation at the Coffee Pot while with the Vikings. And let's not forget his untiring efforts on behalf of charities, such as Easter Seals, for whom he hosted the annual telethon.

Fred was not a pretentious individual. He was real, and like all of us, had his faults. He could test your patience at times, but in the end he was virtually impossible to stay angry at for any length of time. He was after all ... Fred.

It's hard as I sit here to write this remembrance to sum up properly in a few brief sentences the essence of this very special friend and human being, and what he meant to me and his beloved Roanoke Valley. We spent some tough times together as well as sharing in many ways the most memorable moments in Roanoke radio history.

If he were here to read this, I'm sure he would give me that look of his and say, "Come on, Jack, when are you going to get to the punch line?" There is no punch line this time, Fred, other than to say that it was my good fortune to have worked with a man who I knew would inevitably turn out to be a true Roanoke legend.

Here's wishing you blue skies and green lights. Goodbye, Fred, the pleasure was all mine.

Hear Fred!

Wakeathon Promo
1964   (1.2M)
WROV Tiger Hunt Promo
1966   (580K)
Sound Of Today Promo 1
1967   (3.2M)
Sound Of Today Promo 2
1967   (1.7M)
Sound Of Today Promo 3
1967   (1.9M)
WROV Secret Sound of Spring Promo
April, 1969   (321K)