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Amid the bustle of fairs, festivals, and stock shows, Charles Feller's radio voice has chronicled the events that define life in the hill country. Feller has been involved in radio broadcasting since 1954.


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Charles Feller:
The Voice of Fredericksburg

by Phil Houseal
Feb 27, 2008

 

"Come over here, young fella... let's visit on the radio."

If printed words could convey sound, you would recognize that voice. It belongs to Charles Feller, whose distinctive radio patter has kept listeners informed about who is winning and what is happening at Gillespie County events for more than 50 years.

The local broadcasting legend had called me over during the stock show, and against a backdrop of bleating sheep and bellowing bovine, we discussed 4-H and the finer points of showing goats.

When we finished that segment, I had 15 minutes until his next remote to interview him. I should not have been surprised to learn he has been doing radio longer than I've been alive. Feller began broadcasting back in 1954 when KNAF was a 250-watt station located in the Security Bank building.

"We had the honor of doing this stock show when it was held at the old fair grounds where HEB is now located," said Feller. Even off the air, he speaks in that proper, precise and polite voice you hear on the radio. A native of the White Oak community, Feller made his living in San Antonio repairing office equipment for 44 years. All that time, he stayed connected to Fredericksburg, coming back home to broadcast local fairs, festivals, and livestock shows.

With his electronic repair background, Feller is adept at keeping the equipment plugged in and functioning, even at dusty remote broadcast sites such as the show barn. But it is Feller's interviewing technique that is distinctive. He is straightforward and honest.

"First, I try to tell people is to put their minds at ease," he explained. "There will be no funny questions, no attempts to make them feel ill at ease. A lot of times I do an interview by tape, and if something goes wrong, we can do it again. But," he added, "I can't remember we ever made a tape we had to do over."

Live broadcasting of a stock show presents its own challenges. It is a frenzied atmosphere, with hundreds of participants showing animals in four simultaneous contests.

"We keep it basic, and try to bring in the judge as much as we can," Feller said, pointing to a remote microphone he had rigged in the show ring to pick up the judge's comments. "We can't see animals from where we are broadcasting, and don't have time to run back and forth."

And those German surnames. What newcomer to Fredericksburg hasn't stumbled over the pronunciation of Jung, Crenwelge, and Weinheimer?

Those names flow off Feller's tongue like Honig, but he has other linguistic challenges.

"We know most of these people, but there have been some names - like Bourgeois - that I never would have known how to say unless one of the committee people told me!"

Feller handles radio announcing for events year round. His is the voice of the Antique Tractor Show, Night In Old Fredericksburg, Oktoberfest, and the Gillespie County Fair.

"I really don't have a favorite event, though I enjoy doing all the old time stuff, the antique tractor and car shows," he said. "I do like the livestock shows, because there is so much competition going on and it is wonderful to watch the kids work."

It was time for Feller's next live feed. He went back to his microphone and transmitter, adjusted the headphones, and flipped the switch.

"Welcome back... we are live from the Gillespie County Fair Grounds... and the placings of the middleweight cross steer class are..."