Bill Bevins and Shelly Perkins in 2009
They are gone from the airwaves of 98.1 WTVR-FM. Veteran on-mike personality Bill Bevins and his stalwart producer Shelly Perkins left Lite 98's morning show on Dec. 20, after 13 years.
Their departure was significant in Richmond's broadcast history, but not unfamiliar: Local listeners of a certain vintage are, by now, used to seeing their favorite radio personalities vanish one by one, as the absorption of radio stations under corporate aegis have left fewer locally produced on-air shows.
Observing them working together was a show in itself. When this writer visited them in the studio in 2007, I made these observations: "Seeing them together in the … studio is like watching two confident dance partners. Perkins fields phone calls, ushers in guests … and says she probably knows his cues better than her own husband's."
Of their success, Bevins says, "In every major and minor market, there's room for one local morning show to thrive and do well." Perkins attributes it, at least in part, to "the interaction between our listeners," citing longtime listeners like Pete Dennery, who sent in news and amusements, and "Ned of Bubba's Bucket Trucks, always calling in."
Perkins' first official day at Lite 98 was Sept. 11, 2001. She signed her contract right before the second plane hit the World Trade Center. They stayed on the air until noon, and at one point, Bevins brought in a microphone to pick up a TV feed. Now, it's possible to switch to an ABC network feed should the need arise. When something astounding happens, Bevins says, "People don't need another Elton John song. They need information." And it helps to get it from voices they trust.
As to where on the dial they'll land next, as the Magic 8 Ball says, "Reply Hazy, Try Again." "The Howard Sterns and Elvis Durans who are beamed in are great entertainers, but a big part of radio's appeal is the direct relationship to a local audience," Bevins says. "And we don't know what the future will bring.