(Jul. 27, 1910-May 26, 1980). Known as “Uncle Wally” to thousands of Central Indiana radio listeners for four decades, Nehrling, a native of Normal, Illinois, began his career as a would-be radio singer in South Bend while attending the University of Notre Dame. Radio-singing jobs were scarce, however, so he turned to announcing.

A man is sitting in a row of crops and picking fruit or vegetable.
Wally Nehrling, WIRE radio station personality, working in his garden on July 9, 1940 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Nehrling later worked at radio stations in Fort Wayne and Gary before joining Wire in Indianapolis in 1938 as its morning announcer. He remained in that position for almost 30 years, retiring from the air in 1967. Nehrling was a broadcasting original, a man whose warm, folksy style and sometimes corny jokes coaxed two generations of listeners out of bed, even though he confessed that he kept two alarm clocks at his own bedside to get him up at 4 A.M.

In addition to his Wake Up With Wally morning show, Nehrling gained fame as the host of the Funny Paper Party each Sunday morning. The program was first broadcast from the WIRE studios, but Wally soon took it “on the road,” reading the Sunday morning comics from homes all across the listening area. As a father of four, he found it easy to relate to the youngsters who gathered around him as he read the adventures of the Lone Ranger and other cartoon heroes from the pages of the Sunday Indianapolis Star.

Following his retirement from active broadcasting in 1967, Nehrling served as WIRE’s public service director until 1974.

Revised February 2021

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