Pappy Tolbert, was Troy’s Dean of Morning Men

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

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WTBF went on the air on February 25, 1947.  The station was locally owned and affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System.  Bob “Pappy” Tolbert had a morning show and according to Margaret Pace Folmar, he was one of the greatest assets of the station.  His official position was commercial manager of the station.   

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

Pappy Tolbert’s morning show enjoyed great populations and Tolbert’s ad libs were widely discussed.  His show was billed as “the most dis-organized on radio but—at least it’s different!   In 1977, the Troy Messenger ran a profile of Pappy Tolbert.

Holding the pipe firmly between his teeth, he begins to speak.  “I was born at a very early age, near my mother because I was afraid of the dark,” he says in soft, southern tones.  His laughter and warmth fill the room.  “After much work I grew up to become a taxpayer.”

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He turns around as the ‘Big band’ music comes over the monitor and, adding a little extra drawl to his words, says, “and in passin’ by this morning’ this is Pappy leavin’ you with this lil thought….”

Bob Tolbert, known to thousands of Trojans as ‘Pappy,’ has been doing the morning show on WTBF radio since 1950.  He is affectionally referred to as the ‘Dean of Morning Men’ because the WTBF morning show is local radio’s longest running show with the same host.  He became the station’s commercial manager 26 years ago.

“I got started in radio through the back door,” he recalled.  When WTBF lost its sports announcer, Tolbert was persuaded by friends to take the job.

“I was working occasionally as a referee at some local football games.  I guess that qualified me to discuss sports, but I had never said as much as ‘hello’ on a radio before.  The day after I agreed to take the job I found myself broadcasting a baseball game from Pace Field,” Tolbert said.

Tolbert has had many different jobs since moving to Troy after world war twice, as he calls it.  “I had no car, no house and no money,” he said.  “I started selling encyclopedias door-to-door at first.  Later I worked as the manager of a retail store.  In 1960 I started my own home building business and most recently I helped six other people found Troy Cablevision Incorporated, he said.  The cable company has been taking up most of his time of late and his son runs the construction company.  “I don’t do construction anymore though since my back surgery a couple of years ago,” he said.

Tolbert has been the local commander of the American Legion, a past president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, one of the original directors of Troy Federal Savings and Loan Company and still serves on the Troy Hospital Board.  He was recently chosen Troy’s ‘Man of the Year’ for 1976 by the Chamber of Commerce in recognition of his community service.

Tolbert is originally from Gainesville, Fla.  He has three sons who have moved out of his Troy home and one 16-year old still at home.  It was one of his sons who first called him Pappy.  “The name just stuck,” he said.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.