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Carl Lamm, Distinguished North Carolinian

Rep. Bob Etheridge

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Mr. Speaker, Carl Edward Lamm--a legendary pioneer in radio broadcasting will be honored on April 20 at the 2004 Distinguished Citizen Banquet of the Johnston Community College Foundation. Lamm is president and general manager of Radio Station WMPM in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Lamm, now in his 56th consecutive year as a full-time broadcaster, is sometimes referred to as the ``Voice of Eastern Carolina.'' His many awards have included induction into the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the awarding of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's top citizen award, by Governor James B. Hunt. He is one of the finest examples of North Carolina values in action.

Lamm, born in Spring Hope, North Carolina, dreamed early on of a career in radio. As a 17-year-old, he did his first broadcasting on Radio Station WEED in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, took time out to join the Navy for World War II service, and returned in 1946 to finish high school. He then enrolled in the National Academy of Broadcasting in Washington, DC to pursue his dream of becoming a broadcaster. Within a year, he was hired at Radio Station WCEC in Rocky Mount. He followed that with a position at WCKB in Dunn, North Carolina. In 1958, he became a co-owner of and full-time broadcaster for WMPM in Smithfield, a career that continues to this day.

It has been a labor of love for his adopted community. A national expert on country music, Lamm has one of the most extensive collections of historic country music in the United States. His station is considered a leader in the presentation of old time country music, bluegrass, and southern gospel music. During his long career, he also emceed a program for Radio Station WSM in Nashville, TN, interviewing Hank Snow, a member of the County Music Hall of Fame.

On his Smithfield station, Lamm's interests have ranged far and wide. He was the 1971 Sportscaster of the Year for the Raleigh Hot Stove League. For 25 years, he hosted a program about North Carolina lawmakers, ``Legislative Report to the People.'' He covered the Smithfield tobacco market for 54 years and from 1993 to 2000 was the sales supervisor of the market. Lamm has interviewed more than 500 major league baseball players and country music entertainers. Those interviews include Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, and Whitey Ford. Interviews with entertainers have included Hank Williams, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, and Kitty Wells.

Lamm, is a former president of the Smithfield Rotary Club. He initiated the annual ``Rotary Radio Day'' in 1971 that continues to this day. That event, it is estimated, has raised more than $100,000 for the Smithfield Rotary Club's community projects. The club honored him with one of its first Paul Harris Fellowship Awards. In 2003, the club established the Carl and Margie Lamm Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a graduating senior at Smithfield-Selma High School.

Lamm was the first to broadcast the death of legendary Johnson County movie star, Ava Gardner, and was the natural voice to emcee the opening of the Ava Gardner Museum when it opened its new quarters in October, 2000.

Lamm taught a Sunday School Class at Beulah Baptist Church in Four Oaks for 48 consecutive years and now occasionally teaches the Evander Simpson Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church in Smithfield where he and his family are members. Truly, Carl Lamm has been a unique man in a unique time in Johnson County. Through the radio, he has recorded the county's comings and goings, the births and deaths, the struggles and the triumphs, and the dreams of tomorrow.