As a would-be news broadcaster, Larry Meagher cut his teeth on WCVL, where teenagers were put in front of the microphone for vacationing deejays.
During a local town’s festival, Meagher, who died last week, and fellow part-time announcer Don Hibschweiler were sent to do live reports. Required by the station’s owner to wear distinctive clothing, the young broadcasters showed up to the event wearing red polka-dotted shirts and white pants.
“You couldn’t miss us. I think that was the point,” said Hibschweiler, who graduated with Meagher from Crawfordsville High School in 1970.
Meagher, who worked on the air and behind the scenes of national news networks, died Jan. 1 in Atlanta after suffering a heart attack, his mother, Virginia Meagher, confirmed. He was 66.
In high school during the climax of national unrest over Vietnam, Meagher liked debating political issues, according to classmates. He also played guitar in a band.
A yearbook photo shows Meagher, then a junior, discussing the Selective Service on the speech team. Close friend Ray Kirtley said the debates were a springboard to his future career.
Meagher would follow different newscasters, “but I think he just loved to know the news and be informed about what was going on around the world,” Kirtley said.
When WCVL began hiring more part-time announcers, Hibschweiler, who joined the station as a ninth grader, encouraged Meagher to apply.
Part-timers became jack-of-all-trades at the station, making trips to the police and fire stations to read call logs and filling in for the announcers.
“If the farm director went on vacation, you did the farm show, if it was the news director, you did news,” said Hibschweiler, now the local host of “Morning Edition” on Indianapolis NPR station WFYI.
Meagher also took a shift on a program, sponsored by a potato chip company, where announcers would call and interview local housewives.
As a Wabash College student, Meagher was a disc jockey for the campus radio station, using the name “Nathan D. Young” in a nod to the call letters, WNDY.
When the Saturday night shift came open in the fall of 1970, Meagher and his classmates launched “The Nighttime Coalition,” part of the station’s effort to attract local teenage listeners.
“It was a late night party on the air, with plenty of open-mike banter to demonstrate how witty we were, and lots of hard rock,” Jim McDaniel, one of the disc jockeys, wrote later in “Wabash” magazine.
Meagher went on to law school, but never left the broadcast business, McDaniel said. After stints in Oklahoma City, he joined CNN as a writer. He also wrote for sister network Headline News.
After leaving CNN in 2011, Meagher was an anchor for a Baltimore radio station and NBC News Radio. He returned to Atlanta as associate producer for a Fox affiliate. In 2017, Meagher began reporting and producing for the “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” podcast.
A Civil War buff, Meagher teamed up with colleague J. Mark Powell in 2005 to write a novel, “The Curse of Cain,” about a Southern congressman who hires a professional hit man to kill President Abraham Lincoln as a Confederate guard rushes to thwart the plan.
“When I was a kid living on South Boulevard, during the summer I would walk up Washington Street to the library, check out three books and walk home, reading one of them as I went,” Meagher told the Journal Review while promoting the novel’s release.
“I’d finish it when I got home, read the next book and then the next day get up and walk back to the library reading the third one, because you could only check out three at a time on a juvenile card,” he said.
Meagher had recovered from a stroke suffered two years ago, his mother said. Survivors include his wife, Deborah, a 1971 CHS graduate, and two sons.
A memorial service was held in Atlanta. Another service is planned in Crawfordsville this spring or summer, his family said.