Family becomes Angels Among Us for radio legend

Angels Among Us

GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) — WGCY is the heart of Gibson City. It’s family owned and family operated by Gary McCullough for 36 years. For almost as long this tiny radio station rested on his shoulders.

“That’s what I love most about it,” said McCullough. “I’m able to work in my hometown and do good things for the community and the people here.”

High school sports are at the center of it all. He has called more than a thousand basketball games and hundreds of football games. The most memorable was when GCMS won its first football state championship in 2017. A year later, McCullough was ready for their follow up season but he had a heart attack at home in August. His wife and office manager Debra McCullough had wondered about a moment like this.

She remembered, “My biggest worry has always been down at this radio station what are we going to do if something happens to Gary?”

We were there when he was back on the air three weeks later, but his heart wasn’t healed. He had another heart attack while on the air in October. The heart attacks led to another diagnosis. Gary had colon cancer. He tried to work but treatments were brutal.

“The fatigue factor from everything. I just couldn’t do it.”

WGCY needed a new leader. The McCullough family rallied. Debra took over the business side of the station. Their daughter Ashley stepped up too.

“My daughter came on board as a full time staff member. She took over my advertising accounts. Did a great job,” Gary McCullough said.

But it was son Frank who kept GCMS sports on the air.

“My dad was the ultimate dad. He was my little league coach. My best friend. My boss. My dad. He always had my back. And I think the point came it was now it’s your turn to help him.”

That following football season, the defending champion Falcons went on to win another state title. This time it was Frank behind the microphone. For Gary, it was a proud moment listening from home.

“It was satisfaction on my part because my son,” he said with his voice cracking. “Because I got to listen to my son do the championship game. I was so happy because you just don’t know if that’s ever going to happen again. To be able to sit there and listen to what he did and he did a great job.”

It’s been two years now since Gary’s health interrupted his career. He’s been back on the air for about a month.

“I’m an employee now is the way I look at it. It’s a different look, different atmosphere than when I left and I will say it’s one for the better.”

He says his bride of 46 years is the reason he survived. His wife says it was a team effort.

“It’s been an adventure but it’s really made us stronger as a family.”

Showing teamwork isn’t always on the field or on a court. It’s where your heart is. And for the McCulloughs, that’s at 106.3 FM.

“It couldn’t be more indicative of what a family business is then what we have here.”

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