- No name is more synonymous with radio & tv
Winston C. Martindale: Nearly 50 years in broadcasting encompass more than the hit game programs for which he is best known.
Before TV there was radio. Before game shows there was a Gold Record. And along with “host” there have been numerous “producer” credits as well.
Winston C. Martindale, nicknamed “Wink” by a neighborhood pal, was born and raised in Jackson, Tennessee, the only one in his family of seven with a broadcasting bent. “I guess I broke the mold,” he laughs. “I think I was born with a desire to be a radio announcer. I always had that great desire to sit behind one of those microphones. My first “mike” was two paper cups with a kite string in between.”
It wasn’t long before he was sitting behind the real thing. After years of pestering his Sunday School teacher [who also happened to manage one of the local radio stations] Martindale was auditioned and hired to work for WPLI at the tender age of seventeen, just three months before graduating from Jackson High School. “They gave me a job at $25 per week, and for that you did everything,” he recalls. “You read commercials, the news, you did play-by- play football and basketball, and you played records. You even swept out the station at night if it needed it!”
Over the next two years, Martindale graduated to ever larger stations, including the station of his dreams, WHBQ in Memphis, which he had listened to as a teenager. He hosted the station’s popular morning show CLOCKWATCHERS, while attaining a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Memphis. Mere months after landing the radio job, WHBQ-TV went on the air and Martindale became a popular local television personality as well.
1959 was a watershed year for Martindale, as he made the dramatic leap from Memphis to Los Angeles, hosting shows on both radio and television for independently owned KHJ. At the same time, his career took an unexpected turn when he was tapped by Dot Records president Randy Wood to record a pop version of a previous hit country narrative titled “Deck of Cards.” To his surprise, the recording shot to the top of the charts by September, earning Gold Record status and Martindale an appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in New York. My autobiography is the story of my dreams as a young boy from Jackson, Tennessee to Hollywood. In the history of televised game shows no name is more synonymous with “host” than Wink Martindale, the man who has guided nineteen game shows.