Whether it was listening to “Stella Dallas” and other soaps with his Mom after school, pretending to be Gene Autry’s Sunday sidekick on “Melody Ranch”, or getting lost in the prosecutions of “Mr. District Attorney” on Wednesday nights, Wink Martindale’s fascination with radio began during childhood. Playmates may have aspired to being doctors, firemen or policemen. Wink just wanted to be a radio announcer. His journey from Jackson Sun paper carrier to soda jerk at Baker’s Drug Store to legendary status in radio and television began in his small hometown, Jackson, Tennessee – then, population 25,000.
Following graduation from high school in 1951 Wink’s former Sunday school teacher managed a 250 Watt radio station. He gave Wink his first on-air job at $25 a week. With persistence he advanced to the town’s two larger stations and in short order he found himself on Memphis’ number one station WHBQ where Wink soon became one of the Bluff City’s most popular radio and television personalities. Work never hindered Wink. While hosting the morning show on radio, a TV show in the afternoon and beginning to raise a family, he still found time to complete his college education at the University of Memphis – majoring in Speech and English, minoring in Journalism. A shining example of what happens when one envisions a goal and acts upon it.
In 1959 Wink ventured west to Los Angeles where he was alternately featured on KHJ, KRLA, KFWB and KGIL. His radio dream was fully realized in 1971 when he began a 12 year run as the midday personality on Gene Autry’s flagship “Station of the Stars”, KMPC. Along the way there was his teen oriented “Dance Party” from Pacific Ocean Park, a gold record, the narrative “Deck of Cards”, an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and 21 game shows that Wink either hosted or produced including “Trivial Pursuit”, “Can You Top This”, “High Rollers”, “Debt”, “Gambit”, and the long-running “Tic-Tac-Dough”.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Wink has always followed his Mom’s admonition to “give back”. Among his fondest memories are the 12 years he co-hosted and helped produce the local Cerebral Palsy Telethon in his hometown. In recognition of this he was given the 2009 Tigrett Award by the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation.
For years Wink and his wife Sandy were on the Los Angeles Board of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Currently, Wink is a spokesperson for Dream Factory, a volunteer organization which grants dreams to children diagnosed with critical or chronic illnesses – 3 to 18 years of age. He has also been affiliated with Ted Baher’s Movie Guide Awards both as host and contributor.
When fortitude is evident fame and fortune are sure to follow. In 2006, Wink received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2012, he was a career inductee into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. In 2015, the University of Memphis presented him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Every holiday season Wink co-produces and narrates for radio syndication the “100 Greatest Christmas Hits of All Time”.
Wink even has his name and likeness on a soda pop bottled by Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shops!
Social media is a part of Wink’s daily agenda as well – Twitter and Facebook.
Wink is the father of 4 children, Lisa, Lyn, Laura and Wink Jr., 7 grand children and 4 great grandchildren.
He and Sandy, his wife of 41 years live in Calabasas, CA.
When asked about retirement, his answer never wavers, “Why retire? I’m not tired!”