Louis Emm Inducted 1996 - Class of 1940
How many people have a week named for them? In February, 1990, one week was designated ''Lou Emm Week" in Dayton, Ohio. Former Woodwardite, Eleanor Voss Hendricks, tells us that Lou is probably the "best-known, best-liked, certainly the longest-lasting radio personality in Dayton. Lou is a household name in Dayton." Tonight, with Lou Emm's induction into the Hall of Fame, we can be assured that he will now become a household name in Woodward High School history.
Louis Emm, Dayton's "broadcasting legend and community fixture," attended Sherman Elementary School before gracing Woodward's halls. He grew up at 940 Yates Street between Lagrange and Cherry Streets. Known as "Lou” to everyone, he has many fond memories of WHS.
His best friends were George Jaschke and Nick Shemas. He cites two teachers as his favorites. Clarence Ball taught him chorus. He credits Dorothy Kellogg with pointing him towards a radio career. "She taught radio production and brought me out of my shell. In those days, I was too shy
to even get up in front of a class. Dorothy Kellogg helped me overcome it. She taught me poise and self-assurance. Through her guidance, I appeared in many broadcasts at WSPD while still in high school."
One of Lou's most vivid memories of high school was his appearance in the Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. "My studies in Latin, English, and French were also extremely helpful after I became an announcer."
After graduating from Woodward, Lou embarked down a path towards an illustrious career in broadcasting. On June 5, 1991, he marked his 50th year in broadcasting at WHIO-AM radio, where he had always been the morning host.
Lou's many accomplishments are chronicled in numerous articles in The Dayton Daily News. He is often lauded for his countless charitable endeavors in Dayton. As noted earlier, the city celebrated "Lou Emm Week," which ended with a fund-raising "roast" of Lou, to benefit the Heart Association.
Lou was born in 1922, the same year that commercial radio was born. WSPD hired him one week after he graduated from Woodward, at a weekly salary of $17.00. Lou later worked at a Lima radio station before going to WHIO in Dayton in 1941. He originated Conversation Piece, a daily talk show that eventually was taken over by Phil Donahue.
In 1941, Dayton listened to rookie radio announcer Lou Emm read wire reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 50 years later, as a veteran radiobroadcaster, he read wire reports of the Persian Gulf War. Through 4 wars, Lou Emm was a fixture in reporting the victories and tragedies to radio listeners. No stranger to war himself, Lou interrupted his radio career for two years to serve in the Army Air Corps, aboard a B-24 that flew 33 missions over Germany during World War ll. He was awarded 5 Air Medals.
In honor of his career in broadcasting, Lou was selected as the 1990 honoree for the annual Affair of the Heart. Many celebrities who had known Lou over the years were invited to the celebration, including Hugh Downs, host of ABC TV's 20/20 program. Downs was Lou's boss at WLOK in Lima. "He hired me for $12.00 a week. I thought it was big bucks back then," says Lou.
On August 7, 1992, after decades on the radio, Lou shocked his listeners when he announced he was stepping down as the regular daily host of WHIO's morning show. It is believed he has the distinction of having the nation’s longest continuous broadcasting career. Over the years, he introduced five American Presidents. . . Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford.
In 1993, Lou was honored with a scholarship for University of Dayton communication students. More honors came Lou's way when he was inducted into the WHIO/WHKO Hall of Fame. In conjunction with this announcement, Larry Hansgen, then WHIO Sports Director, testified to Lou's credibility when he said that "kids didn't really believe school was closed until they heard it from Lou Emm on snowy mornings." Over the years, The Dayton Daily News identified Lou's radio style as always being the same..."soft-spoken and one that doesn't shout or startle. He has always given the city of Dayton a gentle wake-up call with a subtle sense of humor, as he wakes up the city at 5 a.m."
Lou is married to Delphine Ostrowski, Libbey High School, Class of 1942. They have one daughter, Dr. Debora Lynn Emm, PhD. He describes his present hobbies as "golf, golf, golf!"
Lou has shared his secrets of success with many. "You must simply be yourself...and don't try to imitate anyone else. I never was very good at doing impressions, so I've been content to be me, and I guess it has gone over well with my listeners." Well said, Mr. Emm!