Beloved local radio personality and Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame member Byron Lamar Dobbs of Canton died peacefully on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the age of 86.
Known as the “Voice of Cherokee,” the Woodstock native and lifelong Cherokee County resident had a long and distinguished career of more than 65 years in radio broadcasting that began in 1957 at WCHK radio station in Canton soon after his graduation from Cherokee High School.
After spending 40 years at WCHK, 35 of those as station manager, Byron, as he was affectionately known throughout North Georgia, became a partner and owner in 1998 at WLJA radio station and Tri-State Communications in Jasper where he worked until 2021.
“Byron loved the radio business and he loved teaching other people about the industry. I will be forever grateful to him for being my mentor, my friend, and my business partner over the past 25 years. He, his voice, and his wisdom will be missed dearly,” Tri-State Communications President and CEO Randy Gravley said.
Byron is fondly remembered by the community as the voice on the radio that kept listeners informed of the latest news, election coverage, deaths, and other important events of the day. He was also beloved as the announcer for local high school sports.
“I clearly remember the first time I heard Byron Dobbs on the radio. It was 1964, I was 12 years old, and my family was new to Canton. I was camping out behind my house with a new friend who had brought a transistor radio. Byron’s strong and distinctive voice made an immediate impression on me, as it did on everyone who heard it. I enjoyed hearing it for 58 years,” Cherokee County Commission Chair Harry Johnston said. Johnston also praised Dobb’s commitment to the community and love of Cherokee County.
“I was also honored to get to know Byron personally. He was an important community leader, through his radio work and his huge network of relationships. But his greatest legacy is that he was the finest example of a true gentleman I’ve ever known. I’ll never live up to his model, but I’ll always aspire to it,” Johnston said.
In 2017, Dobbs was awarded the prestigious First Citizen by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce for his unselfish and devoted lifetime of service to Cherokee County and its residents. He also received the Lamar Haley Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Canton that year.
“Byron Dobbs was more than a voice on a radio dial. He was a friend to many, even the people he never met who dubbed him their trusted newsman and would recognize his voice to this day. He was a historian who reported on stories over 65 years in radio that brought smiles to listeners’ faces while others evoked tears,” Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Carnes said. “It goes without saying that Cherokee County is quite different than when Byron’s career began, yet our community will never again be the same as the man behind the microphone has signed off for the last time.”
Byron was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and was its first member from the contributor category for his work broadcasting local high school sports on the radio.
On the state level, he received numerous awards and recognitions including Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcaster of the Year, and a member of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Long-time friend and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston remembered Dobbs fondly. “I have had the great pleasure of knowing and having the friendship of Byron Dobbs for some 60 years. Byron spread cheer wherever he went. He enjoyed his friends, he loved being a radio guy and he loved the Cherokee County community like no one else. There will never be another like him, but I count it as a blessing that he was part of my life and that of so many others.” Ralston said..
In his illustrious career, Byron achieved many accomplishments, including being a main contributor and subject of the book, “The Glory Days of WCHK”, and a partner in Tri-State Communications Inc., Exponent Broadcasting, and Dobbs and Cline Consulting. He interviewed elected officials including President Jimmy Carter and celebrities such as NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, performers Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty and Minnie Pearl and was the first to chart country artist Travis Tritt.
Active in the community, Byron was a member of the Board of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Cherokee County Historical Society, Sequoyah Regional Library Board, Emeritus Director of the Cherokee Sports Hall of Fame, honorary member of Ellijay Rotary Club, A-Day for Reinhardt University Committee, Cherokee Clean & Beautiful Commission, and organizer of the Easter Community Sunrise Service at Cherokee Memorial Park. Dobbs also served in the Georgia National Guard.
Dobbs was honored with the Daughters of the American Revolution Excellence in Community Service Award, with a Cherokee County proclamation for Byron Dobbs Day, Byron Dobbs Day in the City of Canton, Georgia House of Representatives Resolution for Distinguished Career, Georgia Senate Bill commending his Community Leadership, and the Georgia State School Board’s Beacon Award.
Dobbs is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Sosebee Funeral Home of Canton is in charge of the funeral arrangements. Visitation will be held Friday, July 29th from 4-8 P.M. and Saturday, July 30th from 2-7 P.M. The funeral service will be held Sunday July 31st at 3 P.M. at the Sosebee Funeral Home Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cherokee County Historical Society at historycherokee.org/donate or mailed to History Cherokee, P.O. Box 1287, Canton, GA 30169.