Remembering Delmer "Goatman" Hoskins

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2022
  • Earl Freudenberg
Delmer “Goatman” Hoskins
Delmer “Goatman” Hoskins

Delmer “Goatman” Hoskins was a retired Southern Coach Lines bus driver. Mr. Hoskins drove North Chattanooga buses and I would ride with him to and from Kirkman Technical High School downtown. He was never in a hurry, always slowing down to see why his downtown riders might be a few minutes late. He’d even stop his bus to assist an elderly lady who might be having trouble boarding. I never knew as a high school student in the 60’s that Mr. Hoskins would become a fixture on the “Hey Earl Show” in the 80’s and 90’s. 

Mr. Hoskins had family in Anderson County, Tn. and would frequently return home for visits, but he and his wife Arlene lived many years on Baylor School Road near the radio station.  

Sometime in the 70’s the colorful gentleman leased part of the property below WDOD around the transmitting towers. He had chickens, cows, goats and even raised vegetables. Employees enjoyed a lot of fresh eggs, turnip greens, tomatoes and bell peppers from his garden.  

One summer evening in the late 70’s, Tommy Jett was broadcasting his country show on WDOD. He was live on mic and all of a sudden in the background a commotion occurred. Jett said, “Ah, that’s just the old goat man, sounds like he dropped his water bucket.” TJ was the one who gave Mr. Hoskins his nickname.  

Mr. Hoskins enjoyed hanging around the radio station visiting with employees and guests. He had several wicker chairs and friends would come by, sit and exchange stories of yesteryears.  

Longtime pastor of First Presbyterian Church Ben Haden stopped by the station one day. Sitting in one of the wicker chairs, Rev. Haden spent an hour just talking with Mr. Hoskins who didn’t say what they talked about. “He was the most interesting person I’d ever talk with,” added Mr. Hoskins.   
The late Hamilton County Executive Dalton Roberts would even bring his guitar and sit with Mr. Hoskins, singing some his favorite’s songs.  

Mr. Hoskins became a fixture at the radio station helping with various civic projects including the Forgotten Child Fund. He started the annual Polk Sallet Festival to benefit several charities. 

Mr. Hoskins believed eating the wild vegetable would help him stay healthier.  

Mr. Hoskins passion was the American Farmer. During the mid-80s, when they were struggling, Mr. Hoskins called in my talk show giving his opinion. I invited him to come by as a guest and he just became a regular on my program for nearly 20 years.  

While on the “Hey Earl Show” listeners would exchange their favorite recipes. Mr. Hoskins “Beer Bread Recipe” became a novelty. The recipe went like this:  ¼ cup of sugar, 3 cups of self rising flour, 1 - 12 ounce can of warm beer. Grease loaf pan, bake 25-

30 minutes in 375 degree oven, pour melted butter over top to brown. Mr. Hoskins often brought his fresh baked beer bread to the radio station for employees to enjoy.  

The nick name “Goatman” stuck because Mr. Hoskins had a dozen or more goats. One day Mr. Hoskins traveled to Macon, Ga. to try and find the original Goatman, Ches McCartney. Mr. Hoskins located Mr. McCartney in a nursing home but the ole man wasn’t very interested in conversation.  Mr. Hoskins said he was busy pushing around an elderly lady in a wheelchair. Several residents told Mr. Hoskins, “She was his girlfriend.” Mr. McCartney died in 1998. Listeners enjoyed talking with Mr. Hoskins about the original Goatman who came thru Chattanooga several times. 

WDOD’s Chief Engineer S. Parks Hall remembers Mr. Hoskins. “If my memory serves me, he had been a bus driver. I could never put into words a description that would adequately describe Delmer. He loved people, only slightly less than he loved his cows and goats, and chickens and rabbits. He soon built a small shack next to the big gate that opened into the pasture. He probably asked Bill Nash if it was okay and Bill said 'yes' having no idea what would eventually grow there. His little shack had a bed, stove, chairs, etc. He usually went home at night, but sometimes not.

"Over time he built a fence around it so his chickens could run loose. Behind the shack he had his goat pen. He was there every day, and before long he was at the station every day. He and Earl became fast friends. Over the years, 'Goatman' as Earl called him, became a regular on Earl’s morning show. Goatman had an opinion about everything, and he loved to tell stories. Listeners would call in on the phone to talk to “Goat” on the air. It was unique and made for contagious listening.

'People would come by the station and want to meet the Goatman.  Someone would point down the gravel road about 500 feet to this encampment that Delmar had made his own. At any given time on any day you could see one or more people sitting outside on old wicker chairs talking to Goat Man, or was it Goatman? I never knew. New managers would come along and be bewildered by Goat’s little world down the road. It was a little undignified to put it politely. Some would want to make him tear it all down. But mostly Earl and I would have to sit down and 'educate' the new guy in town to the realities of life here at the WDOD studio building.

"Goat was a part of the fabric of WDOD. He had become part of the folklore and mystic that set WDOD AM and FM apart from any other station.  And stay he did, as an important member of the WDOD family.”

Mr. Hoskins was proud of his Navy service during World War II; his son Bill followed in his footsteps as a master sergeant.

Mr. Hoskins died March 29, 2004, following a lengthy illness. Mr. Hoskins was a staunch supporter of the Chattanooga Police Department and then Police Chief Jimmie Dotson preached his funeral.  He was laid to rest in the Chattanooga VA National Cemetery.

Mr. Hoskins brightened our Wednesdays for nearly 20 years with his quick wit and warm personality. Mr. Hoskins would remind us of simpler times when neighbors helped neighbors and enjoyed sitting on the front porch talking about the weather, last Sunday's sermon, the new baby in town; just solving the world’s problems.  

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