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Tom Lanier Signs Off After More Than 50 Years of Radio

Tom Lanier enjoys his last day in the studio and on the air on Friday, January 20th. Photo by Ashley Poore.

By Abigail F. Sherrin

The voice of Tom Lanier is a familiar companion on the radio waves around Boone and Blowing Rock. His even timbre rolls the listener into the next radio hit, keeps ski enthusiasts up to date on the slopes in condition reports, and infuses community events, such as the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Horn in the West, with excitement as he narrates.

As of January 20, Lanier has retired from his 33-yearstretch of radio broadcasting in the High Country and his 51st year of voice and television talent. His first experience broadcasting was from his childhood home in Statesville, NC at the age of four.

“I had a small piece of wood, maybe a broken off broom handle,” Lanier recalled. “I was interviewing my cousin, pretending to be a newscaster.”

 Lanier has been entertaining audiences ever since, a friendly fixture of the High Country radio and airwaves.

David Jackson, President and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “Whenever something important happens in a community, there are often voices inside your head that you can hear talking about those topics. When something big happens in Boone, I hear it in my head in Tom Lanier’s voice.”

Lanier studied music for a short time at Appalachian State University before dropping out to serve four years in the U. S. Air Force as a weapons control systems technician for Phantom fighter jets. Upon his return to App State in 1971 to study with the new College of Business, Lanier began working at Boone’s radio station, WATA, then located on King Street close to Farmer’s Hardware. He was tutored on the art of radio announcing by the station’s general manager at the time, Zara Jane Smith. His time in radio evolved from news director to program director to general manager, adding his voice to events from Nixon’s resignation in 1974 after the Watergate Scandal to the attacks on 9/11.

The freelance portion of his extensive resume spans voice work on training videos and commercials, spokesperson appearances on camera, and a few small roles on television shows, including a notable small role in the 1983 CBS miniseries “Chiefs.”

A storied career led Lanier to be a radio announcer on Classic Hits 100.7 and 99.1 at the Curtis Media Group studio in Boone.

Rick Prusator, the regional vice president for the company stated, “One of the best parts of my job is being lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with true professionals and wonderful individuals like Tom Lanier. Tom is a true friend, a great guy, and I thank him for everything that he has done for his listeners and the High Country.”  

Having no desire to take higher paying jobs outside the High Country area, Lanier mused on his time behind the microphone.

“I just enjoy what I do,” he said. “It’s like being in my living room, talking to people about what’s going on. I like the music I play, I love this community, and I’m just having fun.”

Tom Lanier’s retirement precedes his and his wife Margaret’s move to Charlottesville, Virginia, where the couple have one son, Morgan, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. Tom has expressed his humble attitude to the attention he has received from his community regarding his career in the High Country and looks forward to his time with family.