An original voice of Selma decides to retire

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Former radio host Larry Morris sits in his studio at Morris Productions Tuesday. Morris is preparing to retire from his video productions business and move to Tuscaloosa. -- Josh Bergeron

Former radio host Larry Morris sits in his studio at Morris Productions Tuesday. Morris is preparing to retire from his video productions business and move to Tuscaloosa. — Josh Bergeron

Larry Morris is beginning a new chapter in his life.

Morris is retiring from his video production business after nearly 40 years in the media business. He is most well known for his time on The Morning Show, a local radio broadcast that aired from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Morris is beginning his retirement because of an ongoing bout with Parkinson’s Disease. He is in the process of moving to Tuscaloosa to be closer to family and medical facilities.

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“(Parkinson’s Disease) is tough because it takes your speech away and speech is important in radio,” Morris said. “When you’ve been doing it for 38 years, going full speed, it’s hard to stop.”

But he hasn’t begun his retirement just yet. Tuesday, he was actively editing old family video in his studio on Citizens Parkway.

Morris spent most of his professional life in Selma, but Morris isn’t originally from Alabama. Both he and his wife are high-school sweethearts from western Arkansas.

He attended college for a time, but dropped out to join the Army at the age of 22. He served in the U.S. Army for 39 months and eventually moved to Memphis, where he became serious about his radio career.

During the day, Morris worked at a Memphis department store. At night, he took classes at a local broadcast school to become a licensed radio broadcaster.

He moved to the area in October of 1965 after landing a job. It was shortly after the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches.

“My family said ‘Selma? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Morris recalled.

His family was concerned, but Morris was excited.

“With small town radio you get to do a little bit of everything,” he said.

While running The Morning Show, his workdays began long before sunrise, just after 2 a.m. Morris said the early start was necessary to compile the day’s sports and news wire stories.

“I’m not a coffee kind of guy,” he said. “I’m wide awake and ready to go when I wake up.”

It was during radio broadcasting career Morris earned the admiration of co-workers and competitors alike.

“He is probably one of the most famous local celebrities there was,” Broadsouth Communication owner Mike Reynolds said. “There were people who couldn’t start their day without tuning in. Larry is a great example of someone who didn’t have a transition problem with technological changes.”

Scott Communications and Alexander Broadcasting owner Scott Alexander also spoke highly of Morris.

“Larry is one of the original radio voices for Selma,” Alexander said.

Alexander competed against Morris’ station for a time, but eventually hired him to do sports play-by-play near the end of his career.

As Morris grew older, so did many of his callers.

“I would do this segment where I took birthday calls,” Morris said. “Every year some of the same people would call in. It was like they were growing up before my very ears.”

Radio wasn’t Morris’ only passion. He also worked at a television station in the area, now called WAKA. During his work, Morris said the station received several requests to record church events and school functions. As a result, Morris opened his own video production business.

But now, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Morris has decided to retire for good.

“With news, you always know what is going on in the community and who is coming into town and I am going to miss that,” he said. “I just want to thank people for listening. I have had as much fun as they did.”