portsmouth

portsmouth

Zeke Mullins performing at the very first River Days Hootenanny Portsmouth, Ohio Circa 1963

3d ago
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By Frank Lewis flewis@civitasmedia.com Arguably the best known radio personality in the history of Scioto County radio has died. Earcel “Zeke” Mullins, 93, known to his fans throughout the Tri-State region of southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia as “Your Old Cornbread Eatin’ Buddy,” died around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at his home. The country music performer, promoter and radio personality was born on September 14, 1921 in Jenkins, Kentucky — the sixth child of eight of John and Millie (Clay) Mullins. He soon acquired the nickname “Zeke,” and was best known by that moniker by friends and family from then on. In 1927, when Zeke was six years old, his family moved to Portsmouth, and that is where he spent his early formative years. Zeke’s older brother Clarence taught him how to play the guitar as a young boy and he made his radio debut at the age of 15 performing live on WPAY Radio in Portsmouth, in 1936. Following a stint in the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) in Idaho during the Great Depression Zeke joined the Merchant Marines during World War II and after the war he returned to Portsmouth where he assembled a band and landed a live music show mornings on WPAY. It was during one of these early morning live broadcasts that Zeke met his future wife Doris Liles. Doris worked at the nearby Selby Shoe factory and along with some of her co-workers would come into the radio station to watch the live show while waiting for the gate at the factory to be unlocked. Zeke and Doris married on June 25, 1947; a marriage that would eventually produce five children, Bill, Judy, Larry Dale, Scot and Lisa. Zeke worked a variety of jobs to make ends meet, including jobs at the Adams Baking Company and Ideal Milk Company, and all the while still playing music every chance he got. Zeke followed the jobs to Dayton and then later Zeke and Doris moved to Lorain, Ohio where he worked at the National Tube Company. Returning to the Portsmouth area once again Zeke hosted a live Saturday night square dance that was broadcast live on WPAY and on Labor Day 1956 Zeke became WPAY’s first country disc jockey. Zeke’s down-to-earth, homespun style endeared him to generations of listeners throughout Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky who grew up listening to Zeke on the radio. Best-known for his honest approach, family and religious values and dedication to the Country Music art form and his knack to share antidotes from his, and his family’s life that many people could relate too most of his listeners consider him more like one of their family than just a deejay. Over the years Zeke received many accolades including being named Mr. Deejay USA in 1959 for which he was invited to co-host a special show on WSM Radio with Grant Turner and make a special appearance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Mullins also landed a small part in the pilot episode of the TV Show “Route 66” that starred George Maharis and Marty Milner. Up until a few months ago, Mullins continued to make short appearances on WNXT AM. Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis