Bill Taylor, a popular morning radio and TV personality in Orlando in the 1960s and early 1970s, has died at 92. He left WDBO radio and Channel 6 TV in 1972 to return to his native North Carolina to manage then-WBT-FM in Charlotte, until 1977. After his 30-year career in broadcasting, he opened a real estate brokerage and construction business, building more than 35 custom log homes around Lake Norman. Taylor missed Central Florida, though, and he returned to retire and to wed a onetime neighbor, Ethel Parker Creson.
One of the things Bill enjoyed most about Central Florida was the wide-open skies – he was a 45-year private pilot and aircraft builder, and an active member of Orlando’s Chapter 74 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
On the occasion of WDBO’s 65th anniversary in 1989, Taylor made a guest appearance, where Jim Turner recalled that one of Taylor’s last acts as program director there was to hire him. Turner eventually put in 40 years at ‘DBO, and Taylor smilingly said, “That was certainly a good hire.” While at Outlet Broadcasting in the 1960s, Taylor sometimes hosted a late-morning live TV show at then co-owned WDBO-TV/Channel 6. He particularly relished filling in for a friend who hosted the “Uncle Walt” afternoon kids program.
Over his career, Taylor estimated that he’d interviewed more than 6,000 people – and never felt stage fright. He attributed that to his early exposure to show business, as part of a country music act with his father and older brother Ralph that was featured on their hometown radio station in Hickory, NC. (Bill Taylor’s favorite instrument was the mandolin. Brother Ralph later went on to become a scientist at the National Bureau of Standards and NASA.)
Bill got his start in commercial radio at WNNC Newton, NC, which he helped to construct, thanks to his newly-obtained FCC First Class license. He later worked at WIRC Hickory NC and WSJS radio-TV in Winston-Salem, NC before relocating to Orlando.
Taylor’s prominence in radio opened up other opportunities, such as emceeing air shows and beauty pageants, and even donning an Air Force uniform to film training videos. Sometimes he was able to combine two of his passions, such as when he took to the skies to offer live traffic reports on the opening day of Disney World in 1971. He died peacefully in hospice, on Saturday, February 27.
Obituary written by Bill’s son, Tom Taylor, who served as editor of Inside Radio from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2001 to 2007.