This week's News 3 Neighbors story focuses on one of our longtime employees, Margaret Johnson.
Margaret started to work for WRBL in 1957. We had only been on the air a little over three years. Dwight Eisenhower was president. The '57 Chevy was the rage. Margaret's first day on the job was January 16, 1957.
It began with a phone call from then General Manager Jim Woodruff, Jr. Margaret says he called her at home and said, “Are you ready to come to work?” Margaret said her baby was just two months old. She says Mr. Woodruff responded, “Your mama will take care of your baby.” So Margaret came to the station and talked with him. That conversation started Margaret on a 54-year career at WRBL.
For years Margaret was the receptionist and switchboard operator. Hers was the first voice you heard when you called the station. Margaret remembers Mr. Woodruff saying, “The first impression that the public gets is how you treat them.” Margaret says she always tried to remember that in speaking with callers.
A lot of prominent people graced WRBL's studios over the years. Margaret says, “I liked the Art Linkletter Show, and I met him. He was in Columbus. He came by to see us.”
She also recalls when Dan Rather was in town covering the William Calley trial. “He came by and did all of his reports back to CBS. He asked me if there was a good place to get a good steak and I sent him to the Coco Supper Club. He came back the next day and said that was the best steak he'd ever had.”
A lot of programs have come and gone on CBS during Margaret's more than five decades with the station. Her favorite program was “Gunsmoke.”
Margaret retired on June 1, 2011 and now lives in Tennessee with her son, former Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson and his wife Emily. When asked about the first thing on her retirement agenda she said, “First of all, I'm going to plant me a garden. Second, I'm going fishing.”