2007-04-20 / News

To make a long story short

Contributed by Richland County Public Library

Contributed byRichland CountyPublic Library

Jim Welch and Bill Benton spin yarns together to prepare for Tell it on the Porch at the Richland County Public Library.Jim Welch and Bill Benton spin yarns together to prepare for Tell it on the Porch at the Richland County Public Library.

Billy Graves Benton is a yarn spinner from way back, farther back, maybe, than he might admit. Known to radio listeners as simply Bill Benton, since he spun his way into town in 1963, Billy Graves has become a Columbia icon.

Benton will join friends Carrie Allen McCray and Jim and Ceille Welch at the Celebrate Columbia Festival, April 29, 3 pm in the Bostick Auditorium of the Richland County Public Library for an hour of yarn spinning.

Although Benton regales us with tales of his youth in Guthrie, Kentucky, the mayor and governor have declared him worthy of being called a "Palmetto Gentleman." The story teller holds not only the key to this city, but the coveted Order of the Palmetto.

Benton was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1935. After high school in Kentucky, he married his high school sweetheart, Sallie Lou Smith. With formal knowledge under his belt from Furman University and the Tennessee School of Broadcasting, Bill brought Sallie to Greer, S.C. In 1963, he joined the WIS radio staff and within a year was hosting The Bill Benton Talk Show.

In 1976, Benton, Dennis Waldrop, Dave Wright, and the late Gene McKay, spread their wings to purchase WSCQ, Sunny 100.

After 21 years on air, the group sold their station to purchase The Independent News of Irmo where Bill became a columnist.

Now, with co- host Doug Enlow, Benton is the down home voice of the Midlands for WIS Radio's Good Morning Columbia.

Carrie Allen McCray is a Literary Resident of the Richland County Public Library and deeply involved in and dedicated to promoting the arts in Columbia. She is an author and a poet, celebrated nationwide for her acclaimed book about her mother: Freedom's Child: The Life of a Confederate General's Black Daughter.

Jim Welch is a writer, a poet, a Vermonter by birth, a Southerner by the Grace of God, and is best known for 40- plus years of on- air television.

Ceille Baird Welch is a writer and story teller. Her spoken word can be accessed on the invitational Southernartistry.com. Her literary papers, including poetry, plays, and short fiction are housed in Furman University's Poetry Collections and Archives.

Benton, Jim and Ceille will Tell it on the Porch, Sunday, April 29 at 3 pm in the Bostick Auditorium of the Richland County Public Library on Assembly Street. Admission is free for an hour of readings, recitations and yarn spinning.

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