My clock radio is tuned to b98.5FM and for the past few years I awoke to the sound of my dear friend, Vikki Locke, Atlanta’s first lady of radio. That ends Friday, June 21st. After twenty years on Atlanta radio she’s signing off. A more flexible schedule will allow her to spend lots of time with her father who was recently diagnosed with cancer and to start a new business venture. Atlanta airwaves will miss her distinctive laugh, crystal clear voice and quick wit.
People think you have to be good friends to travel with someone but Vikki and I met for the first time in the Atlanta airport just before taking off on what turned out to be the first of many trips together. Our husbands were racquetball buddies. Her husband, Mike Hughes had invited Phil and me to join them and a few other couples to spend the weekend in his home town of Chicago. With a big smile, Vikki was friendly and gracious. I had no idea what special friends she and Mike would become. The four of us shared a love for wine, good restaurants and travel. Over the years we all took trips, visited each other’s homes, went out to eat and attended fundraising events together. Vikki and I bonded over our dedication to empowering women.
It was easy to admire her professionalism, work ethic and desire to help others. In addition to her radio career, Vikki does an amazing amount of charity work and never flinches when asked to emcee an evening fundraising event, despite having to get up at 3am to be on the radio. Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, Komen for the Cure, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Chayil (for battered women), My House (for boarder babies), the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and PALS (Pets Are Loving Support) are a few of the charities that she’s helped over the years. Drop Dead Gorgeous (to prevent sex trafficking) gave Vikki a lifetime achievement award for her charitable work in the Atlanta Community. I’m exhausted just thinking about it all!
I saw that Vikki makes friendships a priority as I got to know women she’s been friends with for years. And I experienced it first-hand. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer Mike was one of the first people I called. They came to the hospital immediately. For the next eighteen months they stayed close, holding our hands in the tough times and celebrating the good days. They were both sitting by Phil’s bed as he took his last breath. Vikki had to work the next day but she wouldn’t go home to rest. She made calls to give our friends and family the sad news, helped chose music for the funeral and stayed with me into the evening. The next morning despite the sadness of losing a friend and a complete lack of sleep, she was on-air waking up Atlanta and making people laugh.
Vikki spoke at Phil’s funeral. They drove to Tennessee for the burial. Mike texted or called every day for months then gradually tapered off to checking on me weekly for the first year. It’s been four years now and Mike has never missed reaching out to me on Valentine’s Day, birthdays and every anniversary of Phil’s death. As anyone who has been widowed knows, the couples you hung out with before lose touch quickly when you’re now only half of a couple. Not Mike and Vikki. Vacations, home-cooked meals, restaurants, movies, charity events—all the stuff we did as couples—they still include me.
Recently I helped Vikki host ‘Women in Media’ fundraising luncheon to benefit Emerge Scholarships for women. Rather than be in the spotlight at the luncheon she worked so hard to put together, Vikki invited other local media women to take the stage. Karyn Greer of 11-Alive did the welcome and Nancy Grace of HLN was the Special Guest speaker. When Atlanta Radio & TV Host, Mara Davis and All News 106.7’s Melissa Carter spoke they both talked of how Vikki had helped and advised them over the years. Other local media personalities Kaedy Kiely, Holly Firfer, Richard Eldredge, Gina Christman, Kimberley Kennedy, Jennifer Brett, Jessica Forkel and Kristen Gates were also Vikki’s guest at the event. It was easy to see how much she was admired and respected by the very women that one would consider her competition.
The love of family, bonds of friendships, contributions to charitable causes, the respect of her peers. Vikki may be hanging up her microphone but her positive influence continues its broadcast across Atlanta!