(1932 - 2000)
Ercelle Smith was not a broadcaster. All his life he just wanted to be a citrus grower and cattle rancher. He had no interest in joining his father’s enterprise when WPLA signed on the air in 1949. It was Ercelle’s father, W.A. Smith, local Plant City businessman, who came up with the idea of a radio station and put it on the air. Ercelle was still in high school and had one more year before he graduated in 1950.
Even though Ercelle shied away from going into the radio business for many years, in 1968 at a station management meeting, Mr. Smith suggested Ercelle team up with Al Berry to run the station’s sales department. Although he had no previous experience in broadcasting, W.A. knew that he would be in good hands with Al teaching him the ropes, and it was at this meeting that a longtime partnership was born.
It was about this same time that a new show hit the WPLA airwaves. This ‘n That, as it was called, started off as a daily 25-minute outlet for the locals to call in with items to buy, sell, or trade. The show expanded to an hour each day, and then to two hours. It also became a sounding board for area residents to discuss local community issues. Al Berry had done the show alone since its debut. Then one day, it was decided that Ercelle would join him on the air. Now it was the country boy and the city slicker, and the mix was magic. The pair became an instant hit, sustaining the popularity of This ‘n That for more than twenty years.
Ercelle married his wife, Doris, in 1953. Together, they raised a family in the Springhead community, two girls and a boy - Debbie, Janice, and Clay.
Ercelle became a part-owner of WPLA in 1974, was an Elder in the Church of Christ, a member of the Plant City Rotary Club, and on the Board of Directors of the Florida Strawberry Festival. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Springhead Volunteer Fire Department, and also actively worked with the Plant City High School FFA.
Around 1990, Ercelle retired due to health problems which included ulcers, high blood pressure, numerous heart bypasses, and diabetes. The station had recently been sold and he thought it would be a good time to put the brakes on and slow down.
Ercelle passed away in April of 2000.
1966 - 1990 WPLA (On Air Personality)
1966 - 1990 WPLA (Sales)
1974 - 1987 WPLA (Management)