Fred Fletcher (1910-2000)

I suppose life is easier now that [radio] stations can take nearly all of their broadcast day off of a satellite or big reels of tape, but I can’t believe that it’s as much fun as we had. – Fred Fletcher

fred_fletcher1The eldest son of A.J. Fletcher, Fred Fletcher was a broadcaster through and through. His flourish for being funny and creating a variety of voices made him a perfect match for the radio.

Fred Fletcher received his undergraduate degree from George Williams College in Chicago and then worked as a YMCA recreation and sports work in South Chicago. He also fell in love with and married Marjorie “Marjie” Lempke while in the Midwest but then returned to Raleigh in 1939 to help his father start WRAL-AM.

Fletcher started at the station as an announcer, then as program director and moved up to General Manager in 1942. In 1956 he became the Vice President and General Manager of WRAL-AM-FM-TV and eventually became President of CBC. He retired in 1975.

Fletcher became infamous in the Triangle for his on-air performances at WRAL-AM and later WRAL-FM. His most lauded effort came in the form of a daily radio program Tempus Fugit (Latin for ‘time flies’). As the Fairy Tale Man he delighted both children and adults alike. Fletcher was a one man show, making his own sound affects and doing the voices for all characters. Another famous tale of his radio days was when he broadcast speed trap locations, getting him more than a sideways glance from local law enforcement.

Fletcher made the transition to television with the advent of WRAL-TV and one of the five integral members of the team who petitioned the FCC for the license for the station.

Besides helping win the first VHF television license in Raleigh for WRAL, his professional career was marked by a lifetime of firsts. Among them, the first network of shortwave radio operators to collect and disseminate hurricane information under emergency conditions; first NC radio news network; the first NC sports broadcasting network, first NC broadcast from Madison Square Garden, first African-American morning man in the Deep South, and many others.

From his beginnings with the YMCA, Fletcher maintained his love of serving the community’s recreational outlets. He served Raleigh and Wake County for more than 50 years as a member of various Parks and Recreation commissions, serving as chair for more than 30 of those years.