In 1957, fifteen year old Don Curtis walked into the
studios of WKMT in Kings Mountain and applied for a job as a weekend
announcer. The audition test tape is still in his possession, and
according to Curtis, "It was terrible."
While he didn't get the part-time announcing job, the owner of the station told Curtis he would sell him an hour each week which Curtis could re-sell to the merchants of his hometown in Bessemer City which didn't have a radio station. Curtis discovered that he could sell the time for more than he paid each week, and that was the beginning of his career in Ownership and Management.
By his senior year in high school, Curtis had expanded (and had improved his announcing skills as well) to buying and re-selling a daily one-hour show on WLTC in Gastonia as well as the weekly Saturday show on WKMT.
In each case, he was totally responsible for selling, collecting, producing, and usually being the air talent as well.
After graduating from Bessemer City High School, Curtis enrolled at the University of North Carolina. Active in student government, Curtis twice served as President of the Summer School Student Body.
After five years at the University, Curtis returned home and was able to obtain the backing of a number of businessmen in the Gastonia area to organize Cablevision, Inc. In short order, the company was able to obtain Cable TV franchises in Gastonia, Bessemer City, Mt. Holly, Dallas, Cherryville, Lincolnton, Belmont, Dunn, Lumberton, and Valdese. In 1967, this company was sold to Jefferson- Carolina, Inc., and these systems are now a major part of the ATC holding in North Carolina. Curtis was one of the founders and served as the first President of the North Carolina Cable TV Association.
His first love, still, was radio and in 1967, his company obtained a Construction Permit to build his first radio station, WCSL in Cherryville, North Carolina. From this 500 watt Day Time AM, his group continued to group buying stations in other North Carolina towns including Laurinburg, Thomasville, Tabor City, Goldsboro, Burlington, Mebane, Morehead City, And Tarboro. Each time, buying bigger operations.
In 1991, he purchased WPTF and WQDR, the present day flagship stations. These two market leading stations have been the basis for one of the best clusters of any top fifty markets in the United Stations in Raleigh-Durham North Carolina.
The company has always been innovative. Curtis Media Group was one of the pioneer companies in start ups of FM standing alone from their AM sister Stations. The Company takes pride in having the first duopoly in the US when the rules were modified. The company was one of the first in the United Stations to computerize their traffic and billing systems. Recently, the company began the first major station between New York and Miami to switch a 100,000 Watt FM to a Hispanic format on LaLey 96.9 FM. Curtis also was a pioneer in bringing both country and urban formats to the Triangle of North Carolina.
Curtis himself has been very active in Civic and Community affairs including service on the boards of Peace College, St. Andrews College, the University of North Carolina Board of Visitors, UNC-TV Board of Trustees, The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Board of Visitors, The Food Bank of North Carolina, the Lineberger Cancer Center Board of Visitors, The Methodist Children’s Home Board, The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Tammy Lynn Center Board, and the North Carolina Community Foundation.
Very active with the University of North Carolina, he is currently a member of the UNC-CH Board of Trustees, and is past Chairman of the General Alumni Association. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the UNC Educational Foundation, and is a member of the UNC School of Journalism Board of Visitors. He has severed in the past on the Board of Visitors, UNC-TV's Board of Trustees, The UNC National Development Association, as well as terms as a GAA Director and Vice Chairman. In 2004, the University recognized his service to the University by presenting him with the William R. Davie Award.
He also currently serves as President of the Curtis Foundation, and the Raleigh Board of Wachovia Bank, and the Board of Directors of the Methodist Academy of Leadership Excellence.
Active in the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, he has served over 30 years as a Director. During this time, he served 8 years as Secretary-treasurer, and one year as President. He received the DSA Award in 1992, and was inducted into the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2002.
He still hosts his own programs on WPTF, including a 60 minute weekly Public Affairs programs, and a 4 hour weekly Oldies Program, the WPTF Sunday Night Hall of Fame.
Married to Barbara Hoffman Curtis, his family also includes a daughter, a son in law, three grandchildren, and one great dog, Katie.
After 50 plus years in Broadcasting, he still loves the business and looks forward to the second fifty years with great delight.