Terry “The Bird” Slane (Terry Sollenberger) was the guiding force behind WGTO’s rise to unprecedented popularity after the Cypress Gardens station’s surprise switch from pop (which it had programmed since 1955) to country in January 1977. He was the 50,000 watt AM giant’s “triple-threat” man – program director, afternoon drive air personality, and music director. Oh, and did we say one heck of a production man.
He began his travel down radio road as a high school sophomore in Yates City, Illinois when he bought a cat’s whisker crystal set – crude radio at its best. Then, he set up a one-tube radio transmitter in his upstairs bedroom, capable of broadcasting to other radios throughout the house.
As a junior in high school, Terry was invited to be a guest teen deejay at WAIK Radio in Galesburg, IL and, as the saying goes, there was no stopping him once the radio bug bit. After high school, he attended DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago where he earned his FCC First Class engineer’s license. Then came a very brief internship at WIZZ AM & FM in Streator, IL. In November 1964, he joined WAIK in Galesburg, the station that put the radio bug in his ear in the first place and, within a year, was promoted to program director, the youngest PD in the station’s history.
Four years later, in 1968, he joined the Marine Corps. After basic training in California, he went to Vietnamese Language School in Monterey, CA, attending language school by day and working for KMBY at night and on weekends. A few months later, he was in Vietnam as an interpreter/radio operator for a civic action platoon with the 3rd Marine Division. Within four months, he was promoted to sergeant and appointed NCOIC of the 3rd Marine Division’s Radio-TV Information Services Office (ISO). As a combat reporter in the northern jungles of South Vietnam, he did feature stories and interviews for play on civilian stations back home, and filed reports from six major military operations.
After his two-year military stint was over, Terry was back at WAIK in Galesburg for nearly a year. It was 1970 and the Hawaiian Islands were calling. In early 1971, he moved to Waikiki and did morning drive on oldies rocker KIKI-AM. A year later, he made the move from rock to country and joined the staff of Oahu’s KAHU as afternoon drive jock.
By 1976, he was back on the mainland at Cypress Gardens’ WGTO, at that time a 50,000 watt powerhouse just turning country. During his nearly five year stint there, he enjoyed some of his most successful radio days, including 1978 when he was chosen small market DJ of the Year by the Country Music Association, an award that also earned him a cameo on the legendary syndicated TV show “Hee Haw.”
In 1981, Terry moved to WIRK-FM in West Palm Beach, FL as PD and morning drive host before switching from PD to production director in 1986. After working at CBS Radio's five-station cluster in the Palm Beaches for 32 years, he is now retired.
1976 - 1981 WGTO-AM 540 - Haines City (On Air Personality)
1976 - 1981 WGTO-AM 540 - Haines City (Program Director)
1976 - 1981 WGTO-AM 540 - Haines City (Music Director)