By 1992, WHIL-FM was broadcasting local radio programs on Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m titled “Panorama” with reviews of books and staged productions such as plays and musicals, information about special festivals, radio versions of bulletin boards, and “Eugene at Large”, a regular segment used to end the program (the segments were usually about ten minutes in length) in which Eugene Ferdinand Walter shared news, memories, local history, recipes, gardening, information about special cultural events, and topics considered obscure such as a former barbershop at the Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile, books published in Alabama, ice men, and recipes from a church publication made between 1800 and 1900. According to the Mobile Press-Register, Eugene Ferdinand Walter once told his radio listeners about a catalog based in Iowa listing nurseries where old-fashioned flowers were available for purchase and about a store in Mobile where the management stopped stocking capers with the idea that no one ever used them like him.
According to the Mobile Press-Register, Charlie Smoke, the producer of “Panorama” and the director of programming at WHIL-FM, once said he felt angry when he heard people say there was nothing to do in Mobile. He believed in the opposite about Mobile and said “Panorama” was all about promoting local activities. As for his feelings about the “Eugene at Large” segments, he described them as freewheeling, since its host viewed himself as part recluse and his programs as part market-square gossip and weekly columns (the host originally wanted to name the segments “Eugene Let Loose” before thinking it was too frivolous).
According to the Mobile Press-Register, Eugene Ferdinand Walter once described himself as a person interested in everything, since his zodiac sign was Sagittarius (or “the Archer). He liked to talk about events in a conversational fashioned and was not told what to do for his segment, even though he said Charlie Smoke may suggest some things he wanted to spotlighted (the host and the producer were friends since the 1980s).
Before Eugene Ferdinand Walter starting working for WHIL-FM in 1992, he wrote for the weekly newspaper titled Azalea City News & Review after returning to Mobile in 1979 after living in New York, New York since shortly after the Second World War, in which he served as a cryptographer in Alaska for the Army of the United States for three years, followed by his moves to Paris, France in 1951 and Rome, Italy in 1956. He also wrote for Metro Mobile until both of his publications in Mobile ceased production and exhibited artwork such as his drawings and designs. He wrote the novels “The Untidy Pilgrim” (1954) and “Love You Good” (1963, reprinted as “Love You Good, See You Later” in 1964), the cookbooks “American Cooking: Southern Style” (1971) and “Delectable Dishes from Termite Hall”, (1984) and the poetic books “Monkey Poems” (1953) and “Lizard Fever: Poems Lyric, Satiric, Sardonic, Elegiac” (1994).
After Eugene Ferdinand Walter died on Sunday, March 29th, 1998 at 76 years of age, WHIL-FM was set to broadcast a compilation of past editions of “Eugene at Large” on the first Friday of each month at 5:30 p.m. and on the following Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Charlie Smoke later released a compact disc (CD) with recordings of Eugene Ferdinand Walter singing his songs, reciting his poems, and reading his story “The Byzantine Riddle” (1985), which was originally released on audio tape in 1991. He also wanted to ensure some of his friend’s other material, including past editions of "Eugene at Large", recordings of his reading his short stories and “Monkey Poems”, and interviews from the WHIL-FM program “Playing Favorites” were made available to the public on CDs for libraries and archives, since he believed audio tape did not last long in Mobile’s climate (he just needed the grant money for the project). Segments of “Eugene at Large” were eventually released on CDs.
All Examiner.com articles about television and radio in Mobile, Alabama by the author are available in the Mobile TV Examiner section and the Mobile Radio Examiner section respectively. To learn about the most recent articles about TV and radio in Mobile, you may add distribution feeds for those sections to your Internet browsers (link for TV article feed and link for radio article feed) or subscribe to Examiner alerts for your electronic mailbox (link for TV article alerts and link for radio article alerts).