Press Contact: Teri L. Sullivan
Mobile: (901) 490-4062
January 18, 2013
For Immediate Release
WKNO Mourns the Loss of “Mr. Chuck”
WKNO has just been informed that longtime television personality and community education advocate Charles A. Scruggs passed away. Charles Scruggs is best known as the host of the popular children’s show, Hello, Mr. Chuck!, which has aired on WKNO for over fifteen years.
“Mr. Chuck’s passing is not only a huge loss for the WKNO family, but also for the Mid-South community,” said Michael J. LaBonia, President & CEO of WKNO. “He was a leader and a role model for all ages. When Fred Rogers visited us in 1997, he took me aside and said that what Mr. Chuck was doing for our community was ‘remarkable.’”
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Charles Scruggs was sixteen years old when he began hosting his first regular radio program, “Wake up with Bugs," on Chattanooga’s WDXB, a Country and Western Station. He studied business administration at Tennessee A & I State University, and communications at the University of Cincinnati.
As a top rated on-air radio personality in Nashville, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, Scruggs worked through the ranks of management to become a seasoned, knowledgeable radio station executive. He came to Memphis in 1972 as VP-General Manager of WDIA, the nation’s first black programmed radio station, and managed the AM and FM stations for 12 years. He was inducted into the Black Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1997.
Chuck Scruggs is also one of the founders of the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation, now the National Civil Rights Museum Foundation. He served as the organization's first president from 1983-1991.
His career took a new turn when he came to WKNO in 1993, and he soon became widely recognized as Mr. Chuck, host of the children's television program, Hello, Mr. Chuck! The show has been part of WKNO's lineup of children's program and is also seen on PBS stations in several other cities in Tennessee and the northeast. Among other honors and awards, WKNO’s Hello Mr. Chuck! received the 1999 Silver Honor Award given by Parents Choice. The series also received a Regional Emmy nomination in 1999 and was an Emmy winner in 2000.
“To the children of the Mid-South, Mr. Chuck was more famous than many of our leaders,” said Mr. LaBonia. “In 2000, President Nelson Mandela was honored with an International Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum. As part of his visit, he spoke to a group of school-aged children. Mr. Chuck was present for this event. After the speech, the children were encouraged to go up and meet President Mandela. However, most of the children flocked toward Mr. Chuck, who gently urged them to visit with President Mandela.”
As Education Manager, Scruggs spearheaded an ongoing community partnership among WKNO Ready to Learn and Memphis City Schools, head start programs, child care centers and community service agencies. Through his parenting workshops, and frequent informal visits to Mid-south schools and community organizations, he promoted awareness of media literacy, early childhood brain development, stress management within the family, information on how children learn to read, and much more.
“One of my favorite stories that I really think represents best who Mr. Chuck was, happened during one of the parenting workshops he led,” recalled LaBonia. “While Mr. Chuck was watching one of the presenters, a young child around 3 years old was watching him. The child was mimicking every move Mr. Chuck made. When this was brought to Mr. Chuck’s attention, he said (with tears in his eyes): ‘Thank goodness I wasn’t doing something I wouldn’t want him to mimick. They’re always watching and learning.’ Mr. Chuck will be missed terribly.”
WKNO is a non-profit, private foundation serving the Mid-South for more than 56 years. An important community resource, WKNO uses the power of non-commercial public broadcasting to provide the Mid-South with quality educational and cultural programs that inform, entertain, and inspire. For more information: wkno.org
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