The award-winning duo discusses how they met, their journey thus far, and the meaningful relationship they have with listeners.
By Greg Thompson
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The countdown to 3 p.m. is entering its final stages as Bill “Dex” Poindexter and Melissa “Mo” Turner begin their daily walk into the main studio at US-101—Chattanooga’s top-rated radio station and one of the leading country music stations in the nation. The dynamic duo has a spring in their step, and it’s not hard to guess why. In just a matter of minutes, they will have yet another opportunity to connect with thousands of loyal radio listeners from across Chattanooga and the surrounding region.
A Mutual Appreciation
If you’ve lived in Chattanooga for any period of time, it’s likely you’ve heard someone talking about how much they love Dex and Mo. Turns out that the feeling is mutual.
The duo says that the people who welcome them into their cars, offices, stores, and homes are more than just “listeners” or “the audience.” They are valued members of the community with important voices to be heard.
“It’s not just that we love our listeners,” explains Dex. “We really enjoy spending time getting to get to know them. They are an important part of our lives.”
Mo explains, “We would not be where we are without them. They are the ones who make the show happen. We are just the messengers and they are the ones who make it as fantastic as it is.”
Dex & Mo: In the Making
Listen to Dex and Mo chat for just five minutes, either on the radio or in person, and you can immediately hear the respect they hold for each other both as professionals and good friends. This mutual appreciation first began during Mo’s early days at the station, and eventually brought them together as a team in 2009.
After a brief stint in the news department at Channel 9 following her graduation from the University of Tennessee, Melissa Turner was hired as a traffic reporter for US-101 in 2005. “When I got hired at US-101, I knew this is where I needed to be and I have loved it from day one,” says Mo, of her early days at the station—high praise, considering how demanding her hours were. “I did traffic for five years with an awful split shift. I would come in at five in the morning and then work until 8:30 or 9. Then I would go home and take a really long nap before I would come back and work from 2:30 to about 6:30.”
Dex remembers watching Melissa work hard during that time. “For five years, she did those shifts and I never, ever saw her leave the traffic booth,” he recalls . “I used to tell people, ‘That girl has to have the strongest bladder on earth.’ She was in that booth, keeping up with all the scanners and watching all of us. She was soaking it up like a sponge. Man, when she got her chance to show the station management her potential, she did not let anyone down.”
That chance came courtesy of Dex in 2008 when US-101 was hosting a live event and the station needed someone to introduce the personalities.
Dex remembers it well. “I said, ‘Why don’t we let Mo do it?’ She went up there and blew people away. Our general manager at the time looked at me and said, ‘Is that our traffic girl?’ I looked back at him and said, ‘Yes it is. What do you think?’”
It didn’t take long before Mo was realizing her life-long dream of being a radio personality. In 2009, the station offered her a job as Dex’s partner on the US-101 afternoon drive show. “I was speechless,” recalls Mo, of the moment she heard the news. “I was getting an opportunity to do something that I always wanted to do, and I was going to be working with a legend!”
Dex & The Road to The Hall of Fame
Dex’s career in radio was the result of a natural course of events that began early in his childhood. The youngest of five kids who lost their father to a fatal car accident (Dex was just five years old), he remembers his family gathering around the radio in their Rossville home to listen to the Grand Ole Opry.
“We didn’t have much growing up and the radio was one of our main sources of entertainment,” says Dex. “My mother was a big country music fan and that always stayed with me.”
At just 16, he got the opportunity to sit in for the overnight DJ at the leading Top 40 station thanks to a personal connection with a DJ at WFLI. Through that experience, he was able to secure a job with a small acid rock station in Rossville before eventually returning to WFLI as one of its full-time personalities.
After a four year stint with WFLI, Dex left the station to pursue a job as a promotions executive with RCA
Records. He worked for 10 years with some of entertainment’s top acts, but even as he was gaining invaluable connections and experience, his appreciation for radio grew deeper. In 1993, burned out on the record business, Dex took a position at US-101 handling the station’s live remotes.
In his new job he developed a friendship with David Earl Hughes, who was at that time one of US-101’s most popular
personalities, and Hughes asked Dex to serve as his partner during the afternoon drive show. When Hughes left Chattanooga to work at the legendary WSM in Nashville, Dex took over the slot, working with a series of partners before teaming up with Mo in 2009.
Those who’ve watched Dex over the course of his career say that, if there’s one thing that’s stayed consistent, it’s his remarkable talent for connecting with people on a personal level. To listeners and industry peers alike, he is a friend on the other end of the microphone.
Dex’s genuinely warm and friendly demeanor is likely one reason why he has won the hearts of so many, receiving multiple awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, and in 2013, being inducted into the Country Music On-Air Personality Hall of Fame.
“He’s a legend here in the community and he is a legend in the industry—both in radio and in the record industry,” says Mo, who was the one who initially nominated Dex for the Hall of Fame. (Mo has also won multiple CMA and ACM awards with Dex for “Small Market Personalities of the Year.”) “There is not a person in this business who does not know Dex, and they all respect him. There was no doubt in my mind that he belonged in the hall of fame.”
The Heart of the Matter
No matter how numerous the awards or how great their business success, Dex and Mo say their priority is to stay focused on meeting the needs of their audience and the community.
“It’s nice to know that we have a show that everyone wants to listen to, but in the end it’s about giving back,” says Mo.
Dex agrees. “It’s all about the community and the listeners. We’ve been very fortunate. Our listeners have been very loyal for a long time. At the end of the day, we are doing radio for Chattanooga and our show is about connecting with people.”
The duo says that this ability to connect, to share their lives on a daily basis and reflect life in Chattanooga with honesty and accuracy, is what ultimately makes the show meaningful.
“I think it’s important to talk about things like cleaning toilets or taking care of the baby—whatever it might be. I can relate to people and want them to be able to relate to us too through what we share on the air,” says Mo. “I think people like knowing that they can go to Wal-Mart and see me. Or that they might see Dex out getting a haircut or getting lunch somewhere. I believe people like knowing that we are accessible—and we are!”
“I learned this a long time ago and it’s still true today,” says Dex. “People would rather spend time listening to a friend on the radio than someone they have never met. It’s all about your listeners, and that’s the way it should be.”