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One day a lady of little refinement was honored with a disorderly conduct fine for threatening a neighbor's children that she would "stomp their guts out." When she inquired, Currie told her that he did indeed plan to put her name in the paper. Whereupon she replied that she would "stomp your guts out, too." Currie rose to protect himself from her umbrella swipe and fell down the courthouse stairs. Shortly thereafter he became sports editor.
He was no less immune to trouble in that capacity. He wrote that the High Point star pitcher had broken training. The pitcher threatened Currie for that, and when Currie reported the threat the pitcher was suspended by the Dodger organization for the balance of the season. This did not sit well with either the pitcher or the populace. The home-town folks overturned Currie's car. Luckily he was not in it. Instead he was in the process of getting mugged by the pitcher himself down near the third-base line. He later was lucky to escape from an ugly mob brandishing knives and blackjacks. The constabulary, who had not always approved of Currie's journalistic instinct, found more important matters with which to occupy themselves during these incidents.
It was about this time that the South first began to hear its Mouth on the radio. Soon Currie was doing the play-by-plays of the minor league club in Winston-Salem for the magnificent sum of $2 a game, home or away. It was in Winston-Salem one afternoon that the pitcher, who was also the team's playing manager, was getting hit hard. The manager signaled the bullpen for a replacement for himself. "John Carey has just relieved himself on the mound," Currie told his fascinated listeners. Nevertheless, he was able to develop his first Tar Heel network during this period, and he even obtained backing and built his own station in High Point—WNOS. He covered every sporting event in the state, even doing the play-by-play of a marble tournament. He sang gospel and hillbilly, strummed a guitar, sold commercials, deejayed and managed the station. He also took some editorial positions. In short order Currie came out against the school board, the United Fund and the temperance movement. These attacks may best be described as brave but foolhardy.
Currie promptly was sued by the United Fund, vilified by the school board and financially pressured by the temperance interests. When Currie broadcast in favor of liquor stores for High Point his advertising precipitously dropped. He decided it was time to sell the station, but one day, just before he left, Currie drove over to Greensboro. He parked outside the package store that was closest to High Point. There he noted down the license number of each vehicle that drove up sporting the bumper sticker: KEEP HIGH POINT DRY FOR CHRIST. Currie then checked his list with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and read the names of the liquor purchasers over the air. The list included two ministers, several deacons and Sunday School teachers and a wide variety of advertisers who had removed their commercial messages from WNOS rather than associate their product with an advocate of the demon rum.
Currie sold the station for a dandy profit, then promptly went broke when he bought two weekly papers. He was able to stay one step ahead of the bank only because he and a friend, equally insolvent, would trade $500 checks with each other each Friday. The checks, drawn on distant banks, took several days to clear, giving Currie and his friend time to restore their balances, get in debt again, exchange checks and repeat the sequence.
To create some interest in his moribund gazettes, Currie hired a clairvoyant to try to solve some of the more enchanting High Point murders. The effort failed, but it led Currie into writing true murder mysteries for most of the nation's leading cops-and-robbers journals. He still maintains this sideline, and his official WSOC biography notes proudly that Currie has been "termed for this endeavor by Charlotte Police Chief John Ingersoll as a 'muckraker.' " He has, however, actually been incarcerated only once, when he set up a sort of murder-case Tar Heel network for a celebrated trial.
What Currie did was bug the courtroom. He was broadcasting the proceedings all over the state until someone squealed to the judge. He was angry enough, but when he called Currie to the bench and learned that the offending wire ran directly under his own chair, the judge became infuriated and dispatched Currie to jail for contempt. Currie was, however, providently lodged in the cell next to the famous defendant himself and came away with a real "inside" scoop for his listeners.
Currie finally abandoned his papers and went to Raleigh to manage station WRAL. He stayed there for seven years, taking it to No. 1 in the market. He also continued to do play-by-plays for the Tar Heel network, though he no longer ran it, and he became convinced that he would rather announce than manage. So one day his boss, an earnest proponent of civic responsibility, demanded that Currie lend his local prominence to the Civitan Club by assisting in the organization's fund-raising, door-to-door toilet paper sale. Currie said he would buy $25 worth of toilet paper himself, which would be more than he could sell. "I am just one of these people who can't sell toilet paper," he explained. The boss would not relent. So, over toilet paper Currie quit.
He went to a station in Wilson, reformed the crumbling Tar Heel network, and then shifted it to WSOC's aegis when he moved there four years ago. Three of those four years he won the state's Sportscaster of the Year award; he also won it in 1959. No other announcer has ever won it twice. He has also won an award in Charlotte for his work with youth. He does not talk much about that, though, for it would embarrass his supposed posture as a cynical reprobate.
There is little else that he will not talk about. Despite his reputation as a big mouth, however, Currie is better defined as a conversationalist—which is to say that he knows how to listen. His interviews are good, because he asks provocative, different questions and then shuts up if he receives a response in kind. "People like to listen to me, I think, because I communicate," he says, sliding into his secondhand Lincoln Continental, pistol at his side, off for another speech. "The world at large is being taken over by what I call club talk. This concerns an endless babble about three subjects: golf, cards and the Saturday-night dance. I play golf, I play bridge. I play gin rummy. In high school, anyway, I was voted the best dancer in my class. Games are to be played. Music is to be played. They are not to be employed as the human race's last means of communication.