By Joe Wills

 Listen to Joe Wills

Right after World War II, you ask for a job at KXOL, but you don’t want a job at KXOL! It’s life’s great irony. You think you’re better than KXOL, but there you are! Nobody will pay you what you’re worth, certainly not KXOL! So you sharpen your talents while you are there with whatever challenge you can find. You try to make KXOL sound better than it is, you give it stature, you raise it up to the level of its owner, a local dress shop on lower Main.

You spin some “race” records and read commercials for Buddie’s Supermarket and dream you’ll work someday with Lowell Thomas and Mel Allen. You cover every local news event as if it were the Hindenburg disaster. You try not to make spaghetti of your wire recorder as you interview a woman who has just drowned her baby. She reassures you and your wire recorder that it was an accident.

Inside, you’re not at KXOL you are at Rockefeller Center writing the AP radio news that announcers across the country read as if they wrote it. You interview a freshly nabbed felon who actually confesses to your tangle of wires just before the police chief yells at you and says, “The ‘perp’ hasn’t been interrogated yet!” This doesn’t disturb your fantasies of signing a 12-year contract with 20th Century Fox as a writer/producer where, of course, you win an Oscar and Cannes Film Festival award.

You look at your fellow announcer Norm Alden and realize that his groupies know that he’ll make it big in Hollywood. Norman makes you feel like your not so lost anymore. You also see Jimmy Lowe ready to climb too. Your bigger problem is you should have already started to rise after working at KFJZ before the war or later at WOAI the big 50kw NBC station. But you’re at KXOL getting $3.50 for handling the play-by-play of a football game. Ewe-gods! If you can only write scripts for Hank Fonda and pal around with him and get to know Marilyn Monroe and the big-time stars in Hollywood and New York.

You’re not only the only announcer on duty turning a six hour “trick”, you’re your own engineer and you don’t know Jack about the knobs. You don’t know yet that George Carlin and Bob Schieffer will ride gain here and play with the same call letters. You do know that talking beats working and you stick with your radio dodge. You have no choice but to keep learning how to play-by-play all sports not just football, baseball, basketball, but ice hockey here in the devils own furnace. Yes and golf, calling the game as the only announcer walking the course alone, talking without breath all the way. In wrestling and all the sports including the soapbox derby, you don’t have to worry about hyperbole or accuracy. Radio was great that way! Spectators couldn’t have transistor radios in their stands for several years.

You cooled your ambition by selling your own programs. You don’t know it, but you had almost total liberty to train yourself for a fuller future. You don’t know exactly how your experiences will educate you, but you proceed and interview a rapist whose remorse following his radio appearance moved him to cut off his “donaker.” You ignore the bizarre event and think of becoming studio manager at Fox along with scripting shows for something emerging called the “boob box.” And scripts even for a musical comedy with Broadway directors, cast and crew.

You have only hope for the future and each time you say this is KXOL in Ft. Worth, your station for local news and sports. Oh lord, don’t you want those days back now, even though your dream came true? You want a job at KXOL now. It definitely beats working!

Joe recorded this story to be played at the KXOL reunion. If you want a copy, please email me at johnlewis@KXOL1360.com