Upcoming book on Cleveland County Music Hall of Fame’s Hugh Dover

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For those who knew him, Hugh Dover’s inclusion in the first class of the Cleveland County Music Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor. For those less familiar with Dover’s contributions to local radio and Cleveland County as a whole, a book about the esteemed disc jockey’s life will be released next year.

Tommy Burns, Dover’s grandson, is currently writing a book about Dover’s life on the air and in the community. He found a way to publish the book, the title of which has yet to be determined, but delays pushed the release to 2023.

“I mainly made it for my children and my family, but there is still a lot of local interest for my grandfather, so we will have a few copies to give away, of course one for the Hall of Fame,” said said Dover.

The book will focus on Dover’s early life, including his time at Boiling Springs High School, his long friendship with bluegrass legend and Hall of Fame inductee Earl Scruggs, and his radio career.

Burns said he relied heavily on scrapbooks, meticulously maintained by his grandmother, to obtain important details about Dover’s life.

“My grandfather grew up with Earl Scruggs. They are both from the Flint Hill community. They went to school together. They were hanging out together. They were listening to the Grand Old Opry on a battery-powered radio,” Burns said. “My grandfather would introduce the band (of the Scruggs family), and they would put on a show either in the house or on the porch depending on the weather and that was their entertainment. They didn’t have a microphone or amplification, so they used a can on the end of a broomstick as if it was their microphone.

It was during these years, Burns said, that Dover acquired an itch to be the voice coming out of people’s radios. He got his first chance in 1942, when the Earl Scruggs band was to appear on WSPA radio in Spartanburg. In keeping with tradition, they brought Dover over to announce their performance on the radio.

Hugh Dover has spent more than 50 years on the local airwaves.

It would be a few years before Dover found his way back to the airwaves – he was drafted in 1942 to fight in World War II and served in General George Patton’s 3rd Army Division. Upon returning from the war, he used his GI Bill to take public speaking lessons and in 1946 he received an interview and test read at what would be Shelby’s first radio station, WOHS.

Later that year, station chairman Robert Wallace signed the station’s initial run, then handed the show over to Dover, officially beginning a 50-plus-year career on the air.

“He was always telling people, I was the second guy on the air but the first to play a song,” Burns said.

Over the years, Dover has become a vital source of news and information in Cleveland County. Farmers tuned into his show to hear the daily weather forecast and plan their days accordingly, and school children listened intently to find out if school was canceled due to bad weather.

And whenever someone called to celebrate their birthday, Dover would sing them Happy Birthday live.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Burns

He became so influential in the community that after his death in 1998, a farmer met his family at his funeral home to say goodbye.

“He said I’ve never met this man and I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. I wanted to thank you all for sharing him with us and it really touched us, that he takes the time to come and do this,” Burns said.

These stories, along with details of Dover’s trip to the Grand Old Opry, his life as a business owner and civic leader and others are all part of Burns’ new book.

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