WRAJ: Michel shares special memories
A special chapter in the life and history of Union County was remembered during an event which was held last week in Anna.
About 20 people gathered Wednesday afternoon, June 14, at historic St. Anne’s Church to hear a presentation by former Union County resident Don Michel. He was introduced by longtime friend and Union County resident Jane Rader.
Michel, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, is the author of a new book titled “Getting to Know...Walter Cronkite, Buckminister Fuller, Michael DeBakey, MD, Arthur Godfrey, Ann Landers and the Officer Who Arrested Lee Harvey Oswald Through Interviews with Famous People By Don Michel of WRAJ Radio.”
Michel is the former owner of WRAJ and WRAJ-FM radio, which served Anna and the Union County area for many years.
WRAJ went on the air in 1957 and ceased to exist in 1980.
Michel shared photographic images and excerpts from his “Insight” program which aired on WRAJ during his presentation at St. Anne’s.
“Over a period of twenty years I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing many talented and outstanding people for my Insight radio program,” Michel wrote in his book.
He noted that many of the people he interviewed were famous, “some were relatively unknown...All were unusual and gifted in some way.”
All together, Michel conducted 456 interviews, all of which are archived by the Special Research Collections Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
The entire collection of interviews is available online. The author explained in his book that to access the interviews, do an online search: “Often you can just type ‘Don Michel radio interviews, Southern Illinois University.”
“Getting to Know...” includes information about the story of St. Anne’s Church and the work done by the PAST organization to restore and preserve the local landmark. St. Anne’s now hosts a variety of activities, including those like Michel’s presentation.
Michel noted in the book that the effort to restore St. Anne’s is the result of the love and dedication of a small group of women in the community.
One of the events held at St. Anne’s Church is a “Carols at Candlelight” program which PAST hosts during the Christmas holiday season. The author’s wife, Marian, played the organ at the church for the holiday season event.
One of those who attended Michel’s presentation was Tim Jones of Anna. Jones worked on air at WRAJ from 1979 to 1981.
Jones presented Michel with a metal turntable which he had salvaged – the memento was a piece of equipment that had been used at the radio station.
“I’ll treasure it,” Michel said as he and Jones shared memories about WRAJ.
Many of those who attended the program bought copies of “Getting to Know...” Michel also had copies of his book titled “How to be Successful in Interviewing, Broadcasting and in Business” available. Those who acquired the books were able to have them signed by the author.