TRYON, North Carolina — A fixture on the radio in Gallipolis and Point Pleasant for more than 31 years, Dene Wagner Pellegrinon continues to “do her thing” even as she turned 92 last weekend.
A native of New Boston, Ohio, she started her radio career at WPAY in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1939 — first, with a weekly singing program and eventually as a full-time staff member. In 1946, she married the boss, WPAY Station Manager Paul Wagner. Their radio careers took them to Columbus, Indiana; Middletown, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; San Juan, Puerto Rico and then back to Cincinnati, where their daughter Lynn was born in 1958.
The family moved to Gallipolis when they purchased the local radio stations WJEH AM and FM in 1967. Pellegrinon started a daily 30-minute talk show, “The Chatterbox”, which she continued to do for 31 years. She interviewed everyone from local politicians to state governors to national celebrities — even a plastic dog named “Mel”.
She carried on her involvement in the community through personal tragedies — the deaths of her parents and her husband’s death in 1980 — and through all the major changes in her life, including her marriage to former high school sweetheart Homer Pellegrinon in 1982. Homer was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 1985, and Dene cared for him at their home until his death in 1995.
In 2007, Dene was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. In 2009, she moved to Tryon, North Carolina to be nearer to her daughter, Lynn, and son-in-law, Eric Turner.
Pellegrinon is still involved with her community. She is a regular volunteer at St. Luke’s Hospital Thrift Shop in Tryon, as well as a participant in the community chorus and a member of Tryon United Methodist Church. She now does her talk show, called “Voices of Our Foothills”, on the Internet courtesy of the local newspaper in Tryon, NC. The programs are archived and can be accessed via the newspaper’s website www.tryondailybulletin.com or on their YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/TryonDBulletin.