Al Berry spent over 40 years in Tampa Bay broadcasting, beginning his radio career at 970-WFLA while a college student at the University of Tampa. He joined his Plant City hometown station, WPLA, in 1958 as a deejay and his line, “I’d rather be a little late and still be Al Berry than the late Al Berry” became a signature sign-off on all of his radio shows. However, it wasn’t long before he realized where the real money was in the business, moved into sales, and eventually was named sales manager.
In the summer of 1968, he had already turned in his letter of resignation to accept a job at a Winter Haven station when longtime WPLA GM George Friend died from a sudden heart attack. That’s when owner W.A. Smith approached him with an offer he couldn’t refuse – stay, manage the station, and become part owner.
It was about this time that Berry started a new show on the station called This 'n That, a daily phone-in swap shop program which also served as a forum for community issues from time to time. A couple of years later, Ercelle Smith, the owner’s son, joined him on the show and the banter back and forth between the two made it an instant hit with listeners.
After the elder Smith passed away in 1975, Al bought a greater financial interest in WPLA so that he would own 49% of the operation and Ercelle, 51%. In 1987, the two were approached by a buyer with deep pockets and decided to take him up on the offer and sell. For awhile, he continued to help the new management with sales but eventually left to work with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Paso Fino Horse Association.
He lived in Plant City where he and his wife, Patsy, raised three daughters – Kellie, Lori, and Karen. Over the years he was been active in civic affairs and served as civil defense director, president of the local Lions Club and Dover Civic Club, and director for the Florida Strawberry Festival. He’s also been on the board of the Florida Association of Broadcasters and Hillsborough Community College, and was an avid amateur radio operator (W4WKH).
Al passed away June 18, 2018 at his home with his family by his side. He was 83.
1958 - 1990 WPLA (On Air Personality)
1958 - 1990 WPLA (Sales)
1968 - 1987 WPLA (Management)