Veteran WEZL radio personality Gary Griffin has signed off the air for good, wrapping up a remarkably long stint in the Charleston broadcasting business.
Griffin, who had been one of the three hosts of the country station’s “T.J and the Morning Crew,” informed his bosses at Clear Channel Media + Entertainment on Sept. 6 that he would retire from the industry that same day.
He spent all but two of his nearly 38 years in the business at WEZL-FM 103.5.
The 63-year-old Griffin said Monday he had considered getting out of the business at end of 2012 before deciding to bump it by a few months to pursue other interests. He declined to divulge the exact reasons.
“It was one of those things. It was time to move on,” he said.
T.J. Phillips and Ric Rush, Griffin’s former co-hosts at WEZL, broadcast a tribute to him early last week. They will continue the morning drive-time show as a duo.
Griffin said he left Clear Channel with nothing but fond memories, though he acknowledged that the radio industry has undergone mammoth changes in the past 15 years or so. He stressed that his departure from Clear Channel was amicable.
“They took care of me for a long time. ... It was my move,” he said.
Bill West, programming director for Mount Pleasant-based WEZL, said Griffin gave station management little advance notice about his decision.
“He is just that kind of guy who wanted to ride off into the sunset,” West said of Griffin on Monday. “It’s been 37 years. He was ready to be done.”
Griffin moved to Charleston in 1969 while in the Navy. After his discharge, he considered working in his father’s construction business in Bethesda, Md,, but he decided to stick around and try his hand at broadcasting.
“I loved country music but couldn’t play an instrument,” Griffin told The Post and Courier in 1997. “This was a way for me to work in country music.”
His first gig was at a Moncks Corner station in October 1974. He moved over to WEZL in mid-1977, working at first as a salesman during the week and as an on-air personality on the weekends.
Though radio is largely a mobile occupation for disc jockeys, Griffin was intent on establishing roots and raising his family in one place. He managed to stay at WEZL for the next 35 years, handling an assortment of shifts and job titles.
“I don’t know of anybody in radio in this market who’s been doing it that long,” said West, the station’s programming director.
Griffin said Monday he’s only retiring from broadcasting. He’ll be looking for part-time work and plans to devote more time to volunteering. One of his passions is helping the Charleston Animal Society.
“This gives me more opportunity to do that,” he said.
Reach John McDermott at 937-5572.