Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sleepy Jeffers

I was born and lived the first six years of my life in Charleston, W.Va. When I was small, WCHS TV still had local programming which I suppose many stations across the country did as well. One of the programs I watched was a kid's show called Uncle Willie. He was a goofy cartoony kind of guy, not unlike Captain Kangaroo, who told jokes, sang songs and introduced cartoons. He had a daughter on the show who looked to be about my age at the time. Her name was Little Linda. He could make his tie jump up and down with his Adam's Apple. That may not sound like much now, but it killed in my circle of five year olds.

Uncle Willie was played by a guy called Sleepy Jeffers. He was a big time, local radio guy who also had another show called, what else, The Sleepy Jeffers Show. This was a variety program which consisted primarily of down home country music. Not my favorite, but my parents watched it.

Years later when we moved back to W.Va., I got a job at WCHS Radio and who was the over night guy during the week? None other than Sleepy Jeffers himself! I was a part-timer so I never had to attend staff meetings, but I heard that when the meetings would get boring, Sleepy would get your attention and start wiggling his tie with his Adam's Apple.

I worked overnight Saturdays and late evening Sunday. When I worked Sunday nights, Sleepy was the guy who came in after me. He was pretty much always late. I would inevitably get a call from him at about five minutes before midnight.

"Hi Craig, this is Sleepy."

"Hi, Sleepy. What's going on?"

"I'll be there pretty soon, but I'm gonna stop by Shoney's and get something to eat. You wanna sammich?"

"That's o.k., thanks. I'll see you when you get here."

He would never be more than 10-20 minutes late and I always signed out at my regular time. I didn't want him to get in trouble. He was a local legend after all. I admit that despite the years, I was a bit starstruck. It was a pain to stay late when I had school the next day, but I'd always do it for Sleepy.

And sometimes he brought me a sandwich anyway.\

Here's some highlights from Uncle Willie's last show: