MOUNT VERNON — The first time that WMVO listeners heard the voice of Dave Bevington, he was spinning a hit recording by Carole King entitled, “It’s Too Late.” The year was 1971. After nearly half a century, the time has come for Mount Vernon’s well-known radio personality to turn the page. Bevington’s retirement as a radio announcer will be an adjustment for Knox County residents, few of whom can recall a time when Bevington’s friendly voice wasn’t rolling across the local airwaves.
Bevington, now 70, is a link to a different era in radio, having worked with legendary, local announcers like Charlie Kilkenny and Ron Staats. In his late teens, Bevington was already laying the foundation for his long and successful career, attending broadcast school in Columbus in 1968. He was working at WTNS in Coshocton before being drafted into the U.S. Army. Bevington served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 before coming home and contacting Staats, whom Bevington recalls as a mentor and friend.
“I was working with Ron Staats, Charlie Kilkenny, Dave Nelson and others,” Bevington said. “Some great, great people. I learned a lot from those guys — especially Ron Staats. My dad was a carpenter by trade and I had worked with him in high school. He taught me those two words: ‘work ethic.’ Then, Ron taught me those things in the radio business. I learned a lot from Ron and I did just about everything there at the radio station — news, sports, weather — a lot of things.”
Bevington was asked to speak at numerous events over the years, including introducing former Ohio State basketball great Lawrence Funderburke at the recent Buckeye Spirit Event in Mount Vernon. One of Bevington’s fondest memories, however, was attending an event where he wasn’t a speaker.
“One of my greatest thrills was that I had a chance to go to Washington, D.C.,” Bevington said. “They invited me to be a part of a press conference with Ronald Reagan when he was president. When I was there, they ushered us into the state dining room. I was right beside the podium when President Reagan was speaking. When he got off the podium, I was the first person to shake his hand. In the radio business you meet a lot of local people. You meet a lot of politicians. You cover events and that type of thing. It’s a great, great career and for 40 some years, I did that.”
There is nothing that has given Bevington more pleasure than his involvement with the Food For The Hungry campaign in Knox County.
“Charlie (Kilkenny) started Food For The Hungry in the early 1980s and I just followed his footsteps,” explained Bevington. “ I did that for many, many years until Charlie passed away. Then, Joe and Marcy Rinehart picked it up and I help them do Food For The Hungry, following their lead.”
Of everything that Bevington has been associated with over the years, Food For The Hungry has had the greatest positive impact on the local community. It has also brought out the best in others.
“I remember a story that Charlie told me,” Bevington recalled. “This lady walked in from the west end of Mount Vernon, all the way to the shopping plaza where (Kilkenny) and his wife Carol were doing Food For The Hungry. She walked that far and she gave them an envelope for not more than $20. That’s all she had but, that’s what she wanted to do. It was that kind of impact — people helping other people. I think the first year of Food For The Hungry was about $5,000 and two truck loads of food. Now, it’s 25 truck loads of food and over $100,000. The people of Knox County have been really great in supporting this.”
Those who have listened to Bevington’s voice crackle across the airwaves will recall his years of calling the play-by-play for Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets’ basketball and football from 1975 to 1991.
“That’s something I like to do, but that’s kind of a young man’s game,” Bevington said. “It was great working with former Mount Vernon basketball coach Dave Moore. I always thought that Dave really was a great coach. He would tell me that he was more concerned about what type of young man his players were, than what kind of basketball player they were. So, he was a great coach in that way, because he really cared about the kids. It wasn’t just wins and losses.”
Bevington has helped the community in other ways — especially during the tumultuous Blizzard of ‘78, when he and the WMVO staff put in some long hours.
“I’ll never forget that,” Bevington said. “I had been in Columbus the night before, attending the Cincinnati Reds’ media caravan over at the Jai Alai restaurant. When I was driving home, it was about 45 to 50 degrees and it was raining. Then, in the middle of the night, I heard this roar and it woke me up. I looked outside and it was unbelievable. My car was rocking back and forth in the wind. Somehow, I was able to get to the radio station. I called the state patrol and they asked me how I got to work, because they couldn’t locate two of their state troopers. They were unaccounted for. When I got to the station, the phones were still working, somehow. We went on the air and the rest is history. That was probably the biggest event I was ever involved in. I was the early morning guy, back then. I don’t know how I was able to get to work.”
Dave and the WMVO staff logged many hours at the mic and were able to help the community, buried in snow, to get back on its feet.
“Then, people started coming in later on,” Bevington recalled. “We were able to locate some people that could not contact their husband or wife or family members. Radio served a great purpose. I finally got to go home, but I was there for a long, long time. Then, we took turns coming back the next day, if we could get to work. It was quite a few days with that blizzard.”
In almost half a century, Bevington has interviewed every notable person in the community in his characteristic, straight-forward style. He has discussed issues with area politicians and personalities. He has also hosted the ever-popular Tradio program and has been a well-known voice in area sports. Bevington will always be remembered as the longtime host of WMVO’s Sports Roundtable.
“I’ve done my Roundtable show on Friday nights and this will be my last year doing that as well,” Bevington said. “It started in 1991 so, this is the 27th year. I always did the show by myself and last year I invited Tyler Mathias to come on the show, so he’s been with me since then and, now, he will take over.”
While Bevington is signing off, he isn’t going away. As a Vietnam veteran, he will continue to help other veterans at the Knox County Office of Veteran’s Affairs — a job he has had since 2013.
“I was going to retire completely,” Bevington said. “Then, the job at the veteran’s office became available and I thought that, if I retire completely, I’ll drive my wife crazy.”
For Bevington, it’s all about giving back to the community.
“This has been a great job working with veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Bevington said. “A lot of veterans, when they come in here, are looking for some help. “If they have some claims from their service-connected disability. We will file a claim for them and, also, we transport veterans to Columbus or Cincinnati and back, in order to get them to their appointments with doctors.
“A lot of veterans have a lot of pride and they don’t think they deserve anything, but we keep telling them, ‘You served your country. Yes you do, You earned it,’ So, we help them out,” he continued. “It’s very gratifying. I work for a great director (Kevin Henthorn) and deputy director (Vince Thompson), along with a terrific financial officer (Melissa Shank). They are great for the county and our veterans are lucky to have them.”
Bevington’s life will slow down enough to allow him to enjoy the family and community that he has loved for a lifetime.
“Knox County is my home and there so many great people here,” Bevington said. “I’ve worked with politicians of all parties. I remember one person I had a lot of respect for was Chuck Dice, who was the city council president at one time. He was a Democrat and we got along just great. Mayor Mavis has been a good one with me over the years. It’s just been an interesting job and, once again, best part of the job is people. You get to work with people. There’s so many of them. There are school board members and school administrators. One school board member that was great to work with from the Mount Vernon School District is Steve Thompson. People like that are not doing it for the money. They’re doing it for the community. I could say that about a lot of people, but that’s just one person that pops into my mind.”
Bevington has been married for 46 years to Reecalee and they have had two children, Jason Bevington and Shawnna Bevington Clawson. The Bevingtons have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all of whom live locally.
“This is it. I am done with radio on December 31st,” Bevington said. “I’m looking forward to just spending some time with the grandkids. I just want to be able to spend some time at home and not have to go to work.”