You know this guy already! Well, at least you know his voice. Duane Nelson is truly an institution when it comes to radio in our area. He has been involved in radio news professionally his entire career in this market. More than that, Duane grew up here. His perspective on our area, simpler times and what matters the most will give you an insight into the man behind that microphone giving you critical information. Meet my buddy Duane, you’ll love him too!
BRIAN: Duane, you are a busy guy. Thanks for taking time to be interviewed. You grew up locally, what that was like?
DUANE: I was born and raised in Kingsport. I was an only child that had great parents who taught me from the onset, the difference between right and wrong. Even though I was an only child, I had a cousin around my age that lived across the street and it was almost like we were brothers. We played and did everything together. When I look back at my time of growing up, it seems like my life was far less complicated than today. There were no cell phones or computers and people took time to get to know each other. You really did know your neighbor and everyone helped each other. I’m not saying that part is totally different today, but things have really changed.
BRIAN: You have been in news a long time and have seen stories from all over. What makes this area unique in terms of the people and how they treat each other?
DUANE: I started out in 1988 in news part-time on WTFM with the Carl and Jody morning show. I worked with them for only a couple of months before going full-time and doing news for two stand-alone stations, WTFM and WKPT radio. I became News Director in 1991, replacing Theresa Carrier who left to return to college. We have since added two other FM stations and two AM stations to our company. I feel our area is unique because of the small town atmosphere. It’s still nice to go places and run into people you have known all your life but just never get to see them as often as you would like. The one thing I get when I run into people who have moved here from other places is, this area is so friendly! And it truly is!
BRIAN: There is a deeply engrained respect for religion and faith in the culture of our region and I know you are a man of faith. How does your faith play a role in your daily life?
DUANE: My faith is the one thing that gets me through each and every day! I was raised in a church going family. My grandfather was a minister in the area and we went to church three and four times a week. I had awesome parents, who have been married for 59 years. Something you don’t see often this day and time. They instilled principals and values from my childhood that has stayed with me into my adult years. I am so grateful for them and feel blessed to have had an incredible upbringing.
BRIAN: Family is on the priority list right next to faith for folks around here. Will you share a little about your family and why those relationships are so foundational to you?
DUANE: I feel family is so important to the foundation of a person’s life. My parents not only required me to be the best I could be but they lived the example on a daily basis. I have tried to take the admonition they provided me growing up and using it in my marriage today. Family will stand with you when your friends walk off and leave you. I could not imagine having any other influence in my life than my parents who guided me and steered me into the man I am today.
BRIAN: I can’t end this interview without giving you the chance to talk about the latest and greatest with your work. What’s going on that we all need to be on the lookout for? And how can we keep up?
DUANE: I always start off saying I love my job! A lot of people work their whole lives at a job that dread going into each and every day. Not me! I have always loved radio and enjoy the news aspect of my job because I stay informed just as everyone else. I got interested in radio when I was 12 years old and my parents thought it was just a phase I was going through and I would outgrow it! Well, that never happened! I have been blessed to interview several past presidents, actors, people of all walks of life, and I have enjoyed it so very much. Things have changed so much in radio over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed, is my commitment to provide honest and fair news to our listeners. At the end of the day, I want to lay my head down, knowing I have done the best job possible. The best way to keep up with me is listen each morning.