Longtime broadcaster passes

Published 11:09 pm Friday, January 27, 2017

For decades, the voice of legendary radio broadcaster Larry Morris greeted the people of Selma on morning radio. Morris, who moved to Tuscaloosa after retiring in 2004, passed away on Thursday at age 75.

Morris worked for WHBB in Selma and was best known for his role with “The Great Awakening with Morris in the Morning,” his morning radio show that covered overnight news. He also hosted a call-in show called “Viewpoint,” where listeners phoned in about their opinions on current events.

“Larry was a very people oriented person, and at times we called him the Mouth of the South because he had a golden voice,” said former Selma Times-Journal reporter Jamie Wallace, who delivered the news on WHBB. “He was empathetic for people. He was quick to volunteer to take on roles in the community and to do everything he could in a positive manner to build a community.”

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Morris was born in West Helena, Arkansas, but he was a perfect fit in Selma. Friends say listeners loved his relatable personality and the fact that he knew what they wanted to hear. Gary Fuller, the current mayor of Opelika, said Morris used to read the weather frequently each hour because he knew his audience wanted the information.

Fuller was on WTUN radio, WHBB’s sister station, during that time and said he learned a lot from Morris.

“I had a great deal of respect for Larry and for his ability to entertain people,” Fuller said. “I think he left Selma a number of years ago, but he was really a Selma icon in the broadcasting business.”

Morris’ shows aired each morning, but his role in the radio station was much greater than just that three to four-hour window. Mike Reynolds, the president of Broadsouth Communications, said any time someone at the company had an idea, Larry was the first person they’d want to run it by.

“He did everything in the building,” Reynolds said. “He did football, basketball, play-by-play, he MC’d events. He did and could do anything in the building.”

Reynolds said Morris was so popular that when the radio station was at a remote location, people would come up and ask for his autograph. Listeners loved how relatable Morris was.

“Even though he was not face to face with you, you still felt that come through that he loved people and he loved helping people,” Wallace said.

Fuller and Morris used to call Selma High School and R.B. Hudson High School basketball games. Fuller said one time when they were calling a R.B. Hudson High School game, he didn’t have a roster for the visiting team, so he started making up names for the opposing players. Fuller, who served as the play-by-play commentator, eventually couldn’t hold in his laughs and looked over to Morris for a little help.

“I held my microphone out the window and I looked over at Larry, the color [commentator], trying to get him to talk and his face was beat red because he was laughing too,” Fuller said.

Friends said Morris was serious about his work, but also loved to joke around and have fun.

“He was able to dish it out and take it,” Wallace said. 

At Elkdale, he was an integral part of the church’s choir and served as the interim minister of music until Guy Anderson accepted the full time job. Any time Anderson needed to be out, he said Morris would fill in.

“Larry was truly the epitome of what a Christian man should be,” Anderson said. “He conducted himself well as a believer of Christ. He worked in Sunday school throughout the years, as Sunday school director. I can even remember him working with little kids in the nursery.”

Anderson described him as someone who never met a stranger.

“I think people just felt like he was a friend that they could talk to and go back and forth with in conversation,” Anderson said. “He had the average guy kind of feel to him.”

Morris’ funeral is scheduled for Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Tuscaloosa with Dr. Herbert Thomas officiating. Burial will follow in Memory Hill Gardens.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Luther C. Morris and Alice Morris; grandson, Andrew Stephen Morris; son-in-law, Bryan Galyon. He is survived by his wife, Margery Morris of Tuscaloosa; daughter, Lisa Morris Manderson (Scott) of Tuscaloosa; son, Stephen Morris (Frances) of Montgomery; brother, Dr. Dale Morris (Trisha) of Forrest City, Arkansas; grandchildren, Megan G. Foster (Zach), Reid Galyon (Amy), Sheridan Galyon, Mary Frances Morris and Coleman Morris.