After Don LaDuke and wife, Peggy, moved to Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick in 2002, he purchased an impressive assortment of electronic equipment related to his former career as a radio broadcaster. He planned to turn a third bedroom in their new home into a recording studio and produce commercials and public service programming.
But before long, he discovered that he enjoyed not working and, besides, he said, he produced only one commercial. It was for his daughter, and he did the work without asking to be paid for it. So he abandoned his plan to extend his broadcasting career and the equipment went unused. But it is not gathering dust.
Just recently, he donated the equipment to the Mass Communications Department at Lander University, which is in the very early stages of planning to establish a low-power student radio station on campus as part of the teaching curriculum.
The equipment, which is valued at $8,000, includes a broadcast console, equipment racks, audio mixer, amplifier, recording equipment, three microphones, earphones and more. LaDuke even donated the soundproofing baffles attached to the walls.
Dr. Robert Stevenson, chair of Lander's Department of Mass Communications and Theatre said, "We are very grateful to Don for his generous donation to Lander University. Our radio production students will now receive hands-on experience without having to leave campus." Stevenson added that the entire campus would eventually benefit from Laduke's donation because the equipment will be an integral part of Lander's new AM/internet radio station.
LaDuke's broadcasting career spanned more than 20 years. "It was sort of like the old TV show, 'WKRP in Cincinnati,'" he said. His first radio experience was a public affairs program for the U.S. Air Force while he was stationed near Marquette, Mich. After leaving the military, the Texas native alternated between jobs in law enforcement and broadcasting before deciding on a radio career in 1982. He began as a disc jockey then moved into programming, sales and management.
He worked at radio stations in Texas and Louisiana and for Davidson Communications at its stations in Georgia and Kingstree, South Carolina. In1996, he became and owner/manager of stations WDKD and WWKT in Kingstree and sold them 16 years later when he and Peggy decided to retire to Savannah Lakes Village.
The day after LaDuke notified Lander of his interest in donating the equipment, Stevenson and Paul Crutcher showed up at his home where they disconnected the equipment, removed the soundproofing material, and loaded it all on a pickup truck for transport to the university. Crutcher, a 15-year broadcast veteran, works with Lander's mass communications students as a multimedia adviser and resource for students learning video production, blogging and podcasting.
LaDuke expects to convert his erstwhile broadcast studio back into a third bedroom. Meanwhile, the equipment he donated is carefully stored away at Lander, awaiting the day when it will become the centerpiece in the university's broadcasting facility.