Walt Bodine: a special man in a good town
The Kansas City Star
Broadcaster Walt Bodine died Sunday. He had a sterling career in Kansas City, one that won’t likely be repeated.
And without diminishing Mr. Bodine’s skills, I suspect his career wouldn’t have happened in most other cities. Kansas City was small enough for Mr. Bodine to be well known by the public, which came to love him.
Mr. Bodine switched from commercial broadcasting to public radio at a time when many retire, and longtime listeners (including me) could hear a decline in his abilities over the years.
Yet when the station director wanted to terminate his contract, the listening public roared, “We like this guy. Leave him alone.” They brought him back, and he continued, requiring more assistance as he became more frail.
He interviewed me once on his public radio talk show, and he was great at filling in when I wasn’t interesting enough to spur anyone to call in.
But that was seldom the case on his program. There were regulars who called in on almost any topic, but there were also amazing calls from Kansas Citians with great knowledge and insight.
Mr. Bodine was gracious with all callers, and listeners returned the respect. Our city has rude people like anywhere else, but whether it’s midwestern manners or something unique here, people in K.C. are usually pretty nice.
It wasn’t only that Kansas City is a big small town. People saw something in Walt Bodine that they really liked as they grew older with him, and that says something about the people in the place where Walt Bodine worked for decades.
As Walt would ask, “What do you say to that?”