When Jim Bohannon began his career in radio in 1960, there was no digital media. Fast forward 50 years and Jim Bohannon's voice is digitally processed and reaches far beyond the local listening audience. Listen to what Jimbo has to say . . .
When Jim Bohannon began his career in radio in 1960, there was no digital media. As a disc jockey in Lebanon, Mo., he carefully positioned needles on rock-n-roll records and turned the spin knob. There were no tape players nor cassettes. Fast forward 50 years and Jim Bohannon's voice is digitally processed and reaches far beyond the local listening audience.
For close to 25years, he has been a coast-to-coast radio show host. The Jim Bohannon Show is heard on more than 500 radio stations and around the world on the internet. The 73-year old stopped by the studios of KTTR-FM 99.7 in Rolla on Thursday morning in route to his hometown of Lebanon, where he will participate in some local events. He took some time to speak to The Rolla Daily News on his journey from his small-town upbringing to becoming a national radio personality.
How did you get started in radio?
It was 1960. I was 16 years old, and I wanted to meet girls. I was the “white Steve Urkel” of Lebanon High School, and I thought if I was on our local radio station, KLWT-AM 1230, it would increase my stud quotient, which it did a little bit. However, even better, I stumbled upon a career that I've loved for these past 57 years.
When did you get your big break in radio?
It all began with a mechanic who left a wrench in a rocket at Cape Canaveral (Florida). It was early 1981 and Larry King was in Chicago broadcasting on our network, Westwood One, and our engineer was telling him how great I was. I was flattered. Thank you very much.
Later that same year, Larry had to have a backup radio host on night as he was scheduled to give a speech. His backup, at the time, was a guy named Jim Slade who was also the space corespondent on one of the TV networks. Jim was scheduled to broadcast the shuttle launch that day and then fill in for Larry that night. It didn't work out. A mechanic left a wrench in the shuttle and Jim was stuck in Cape Canaveral waiting for a delayed launch. The radio network realized that they had no one to fill in for Larry King. So, I got the call and I became Larry's regular fill in for the last 11 years of his show. The show became the Jim Bohannon Show in 1993.
How has your on-air, radio style developed over the years?
I am more of a generalist. If there is a big story in the news, I will talk about it. But I am not going to beat it to death and scream at you. I am not a political fireball like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. I can't get that angry all the time. So if we do not have a big story, we will do other things on the show. For instance, I did an hour on whether the toilet paper should hang over the front or the back of the roll. People want a break from all the news all the time.
Is radio still relevant in an age of computers and instant technology?
Yes, people still listen to radio. In two years, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of radio. The spoken word and music will always have a place.
What keeps you going?
I enjoy radio. It's always fun and very interesting. Doing a radio program is like playing shortstop on the baseball field. You never know if the next batter is going to hit a line drive, a slow roller , a grounder or pop up. It is never boring, and I like that.
The Jim Bohannon Show can be heard locally on KTTR-FM 99.7 each night from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.