ELKINS – Many community residents remember fond memories of David “Chongo” Skidmore, a longtime Inter-Mountain sales representative and beloved local disc jockey, died suddenly on Tuesday.
Skidmore spent over 20 years on the air in Elkins, providing the soundtrack to generations of local listeners on Saturday nights with “Chongo’s Rockin’ Oldies Show.”
“I never knew anyone who knew more about the ancients than him” said Dick McGraw, former owner of Elkins WELK and WBTQ radio stations. “I’ve worked with a lot of people over my 50 years in broadcasting, but it was a reference book on two legs. A lot of the success we had with WELK and WBTQ was because he was on our team.
Skidmore was also the emcee at many local events and twice broadcast his show from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“When I think of Chongo, one of the things that comes to mind is his mental ability to retain facts and details of the radio and music industry” said Brian Elliott of Edward Jones Financial Services in Elkins, who worked with Skidmore on radio for years.
“Today, people can extract a lot of information on a computer or a mobile phone. Chongo had it in mind. It was right there at the recall. He had so many facts and figures about artists and how songs came about, just the interesting tidbits that made his show so popular. He was just a real talent.”
Skidmore began working as a DJ at age 17, at Davis & Elkins College radio station WCDE, then worked at WDNE in Elkins. Before he got into radio, he was a kid who was an Inter-Mountain paperboy, who loved sports and being with his friends.
“I knew him before he was Chongo. We called him David back then,” said Ed Tire of Elkins Builders Supply. “We played baseball together. We organized a game with all the children in the neighborhood, once or twice a week. In the summer, we cycled.
“I was his locker mate from seventh through 11th grade, middle school through Elkins High School. In the final year, seniors have their own locker,” said Tyr. “I graduated with him in 1971. I’ve known him for all those years. She was a damn good person.
Skidmore was given his unusual nickname by his childhood friend’s father, Mike Burke. Dr Don Burke began jokingly calling Skidmore “Chongo,” which he said meant “monkey.” The nickname stuck and became memorable during Skidmore’s radio career.
Another of Skidmore’s classmates was Steve Herron, publisher of The Inter-Mountain.
“David Skidmore was more than a colleague to me,” Heron said. “Our friendship dates back over 50 years when we were together at Elkins High School. So not only did the newspaper lose one of our most valuable assets, but I personally lost a good friend.
“There is no replacement for Mr. Skidmore, as I would call him,” said Herron, who graduated from Elkins High School with Skidmore. “He was one of a kind and those of us who had the opportunity to call him our friend are better people because of it.”
In his youth, Skidmore sold clothes at the John B. Wilt Company store and sold cars at the Harry Webb Ford car dealership, both in Elkins. In high school, he worked at Faraway Hills, a restaurant and tourist destination off Georgetown Road in Beverly.
But the radio became his vocation. He joined the WELK team in 1985 and quickly seduced a public of listeners.
“Chongo was Chongo,” McGraw said. “He would come out with what we called these Chongo-isms, these funny sayings that he always had in his repertoire. He made a name for himself, not just on the radio, but in the hearts of those of us who worked with him.
During his radio career, Skidmore hosted the Mountain State Forest Festival Talent Show and featured many famous acts on the MSFF Classic Rock Show, including Three Dog Night.
While hosting his morning show on WBTQ and doing his Saturday alumni show on WELK and WBTQ, Skidmore also sold advertising for radio stations, using his sales skills.
“Chongo was just an extremely talented individual,” said Elliott. “Usually there are personalities who can perform on air or who can perform in the sales department. Chongo was able to bridge that gap and have an extremely popular and successful radio program, and still does very well on the sales side. He was a unique character who could do both.
Skidmore was well known for his work ethic, working part-time at Peebles for 15 years while holding a full-time job.
“Chongo worked for us for almost 20 years. Before, I had to beg him to take a vacation,” McGraw said. “He was just one of the most driven people I’ve ever met. I think he worked so hard because he loved being around people. He was just a good, good guy. was not just an employee, he was a friend.
“He was unfazed. I never saw him get upset or depressed. He was just very level. He just seemed to really enjoy what he was doing.
In 2005, Skidmore started at The Inter-Mountain, selling advertising and building relationships with his clients.
“When he walked into a room, he just had this energy,” said Tracy Fath of Davis Health System. “Everyone would gravitate to him. Always a gentleman, always professional. Wow, what a loss.
“Chongo was really old school in his approach to sales and in building a relationship with customers. I cannot name any other vendor who has taken the time to come into the office for a personal visit, if not weekly, then bi-weekly,” said Fat. “Nowadays it’s so easy for people to just send an email. But he would come personally, and as soon as he arrived he knew us, and he knew what suited us and what didn’t. That only happens if you take the time to get to know your customer, and that’s something I’ve always appreciated.
“I remember, when (my family) restored an old farmhouse, I painted pieces for ‘Chongo’s Rockin’ Oldies Show.’ In our office we played The Beatles all day today as a tribute to him. He will be sorely missed by all of us.”
Skidmore’s professionalism, work ethic and personality endeared him to the staff at Inter-Mountain.
“I have worked with Chongo since 2005,” said Michelle Smith, advertising director of The Inter-Mountain. “He was so dependable and consistent, and a very hard worker. You could always count on him and he always tried hard.
“He always lightened the tone in the office by joking around with everyone. He was very funny and very popular. He cared about his customers and always did his best for them. He was a very special person. »
“Chongo, as most people called him, was a professional in every sense of the word,” Heron said. “In the five years that I have been back at Inter-Mountain, I have never heard him complain once, unless he was joking about a colleague if he was in front of them.
“He was always one of the first staff members to show up for work every day and on many days he was the last to leave the publicity office at the end of the day,” he said. “To my knowledge, Dave has never missed a day of work due to illness and he has never used all of his vacation days. I think the main reason he never missed work job was that he really cared about his customers, and his top priority every day was to pitch ideas to businesses and help them succeed.”
Skidmore was a member of St. Brendan’s Catholic Church in Elkins, where he served as a liturgy reader.
He was honored as United Way Volunteer of the Year and was a first degree member of Elkins Council 603 of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1987 he married his wife, Linda, a former editor of The Inter-Mountain who is now on staff at Davis & Elkins College.
Skidmore’s parents were the late Ethel and Charles Skidmore.