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Late Broadcast Legend Milton Metz Gets His 'Hometown Hero' Banner

Milton Metz

The late Milton Metz has become the latest person to be honored with a “Hometown Hero” banner.

Metz, whose Louisville radio and television career spanned more than a half-century, died in January at the age of 95.

Dozens of Metz’s former colleagues, along with civic and business leaders, gathered downtown Monday for the banner’s unveiling.

“Milton was a titan of Louisville broadcasting, a great pioneer for the medium whose influence still looms large across news and talk to this day,” Mayor Greg Fischer read from proclamation as he stood in front of Metz’s new banner, hanging on the side of the Architection Building at Fifth and Market Streets.

Fischer handed the proclamation to Metz’s son, Perry, who said when his father began his groundbreaking radio call-in program on WHAS in 1959, the nation was a different place.

“Open housing, public accommodations, riots, the Vietnam War, Watergate. All these things, Milt talked the country through," Perry Metz said. "People called from 40 states and Canada because of the 50,000-watt clear channel radio signal.”

Other speakers at the ceremony remembered the Cleveland native’s calm, classy demeanor and his devotion to his late wife, Mimi.

Metz also served as a mentor to many up-and-coming journalists and radio personalities, including Terry Meiners. Meiners has been at WHAS Radio since 1985 and recalls Metz helping him get acquainted with the station on his first day at work.

“He showed me around, then he finished the tour, he had Dracula fangs in and acted like he was going to bite me in the neck,” Meiners said. “He gave me one piece of advice:   ‘Booby’ — If he loved you he called you Booby — ‘Booby, don’t ever do anything you don’t want to read about on the front page of the newspaper.’”

In the 1970s, Metz co-hosted “Omelet,” a talk and interview program on WHAS television, with Faith Lyles, who also attended his banner ceremony.

“I learned a lot from Milton," Lyles said. “He was a perfectionist, and that made you study hard and be prepared when you did interviews. It was great.”

Metz also loved to play tennis and was a fierce competitor. Former WHAS sportscaster Van Vance was a frequent playing partner and worked with Metz for many years.

“He was kind of our patriarch," said Vance. "He preceded all of us and he almost outlived all of us.”

Metz was told shortly before his death that he would be honored with a “Hometown Hero” banner.

It hangs just a few blocks from his longtime WHAS broadcasting home and overlooks Vincenzo’s restaurant, where he was a regular, and where his friends gathered after the banner unveiling to raise a glass and share more memories of “El Metzo.”

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.