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FOUR OAKS — Carl Lamm, 92, a legendary figure in the world of radio in North Carolina, has announced his retirement and will be turning off his microphone for good at station WTSB AM 1090 and FM 105.5 in Selma-Smithfield on March 29 following 72 years in broadcasting.
WTSB will sign off the air two days later on Sunday, March 31.
Lamm, a native of Spring Hope, got his start in radio at WCEC in Rocky Mount in 1947.
His next job was at station WCKB in Dunn where he worked for nearly 10 years until becoming part owner and operator of WMPM in Smithfield in 1958.
Lamm and son, Mickey, bought WTSB 1090 AM in 2007.
A North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee, Lamm has been named the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year, was grand marshal of the Selma Railroad Days parade and is former president of the Smithfield Rotary Club.
In 2009, Lamm co-authored a book entitled “Sixty-Three Years on the Air, My Life and Times.”
Lamm lives in Four Oaks and is a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Smithfield.
Scott Mason, who produces the award-winning “Tar Heel Traveler” weekly series on WRAL-TV, was among those who spoke fondly of Lamm.
“So many people had told me over the years about Carl Lamm and said I ought to do a story on him,” said Mason. “When I finally got a chance to meet him in 2015 and do the story, I was very excited to meet this legendary broadcasting personality, which is what he was then and still is.
“I remember we talked about all the things he had done in his career and he was so proud of the pictures he showed us of Major League Baseball players that he had known. He was in his element and just seemed so happy to be at the radio station. I think in radio was where Carl Lamm was always meant to be.”
Johnston County Manager Rick Hester also shared well-wishes.
“Mr. Carl is a radio legend and a great friend and I sure will miss listening to him on the radio,” Hester said. “I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Will Crocker, former Johnston County clerk of Superior Court and assistant sergeant-at-arms of the N.C. House, said he met Lamm in 1954 or 1955 when Lamm worked at WCKB in Dunn.
“It shocked me when he announced he was going to retire, but I can understand it since there comes a time when it has to happen,” said Crocker.
“I just heard him on the radio this morning on my way back from Raleigh and he said he did not know what he was going to do now.”
Crocker called Lamm a “magnificent person” and said he has been a great asset to Johnston County.
“He used to come to the courthouse every Veterans Day when I was clerk of court and interview the veterans,” said Crocker. “He has interviewed more people around here than anybody.
“Carl and his wife and me and my wife were always friends ever since Bojangles’ in Selma has been open and even long before that. I ate supper with him at Bojangles’ every Sunday night. Carl Lamm is certainly going to be missed.”
Selma resident Lewis Mullen, a friend of Lamm, said the radio mainstay is one of a kind.
“You could learn so much just from listening to and talking to Carl Lamm,” Mullen said. “His mind is remarkable and they just don’t make broadcasters like him anymore, especially when it comes to sports.”
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell counts himself among Lamm’s many admirers.
“Carl Lamm is the definition of a true gentleman and he is the kind of person anybody would be proud to call their grandpa,” Bizzell said. “He is a Christian man, a man of faith and he loves everybody. His retirement closes a great chapter in Johnston County history.”
“If Carl Lamm said something, it was the truth,” Bizzell added. “He is my friend and I will miss him dearly.”