Monday, March 25, 2013

R.I.P.: Legendary KC Broadcaster Walt Bodine Dies

Walt Bodine
Walton Marshall Bodine, who chatted through radios and televisions for over seven decades to his many friends, we Kansas Citians, died early Sunday morning.

The dean of Kansas City broadcasters, known to everyone as “Walt,” was 92.

According to the Kansas City Star. Bodine’s electronic media career in Kansas City lasted more than 50 years, spanning the golden age of radio, the birth of commercial television and the advent of the Internet.

“Like everybody’s uncle on the radio,” as Patricia Deal Cahill, KCUR’s general manager until last year, said when Bodine signed off for the last time. “Comfortable, familiar.”

For almost 30 years he hosted “The Walt Bodine Show,” a popular call-in talk program broadcast on public station KCUR-FM at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

On either radio or television, Bodine was a plain-speaking interviewer and commentator whose common-sense approach epitomized fly-over country fairness and good will. With his famous catch phrase, “What do you say to that?” he polled public opinion without ever seeming to court it.

The year 1941 saw his Kansas City career launch as an announcer and newscaster at KCKN-AM. After serving three years in the U.S. Maritime Service and U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II, he returned to KCKN but soon left for WDAF-AM.

Until 1965, Bodine was staff announcer, news reporter and news director of both WDAF-AM radio and WDAF-TV, Channel 4. While at WDAF, he teamed with Jean Glenn to host the talk-radio show “Conversation.”

By the early 1960s, he established a familiar presence on “The Walt Bodine Show” weekdays on WDAF. The Star’s Harry Jones Jr. wrote then that the show offered “a varying format involving telephoned chitchat, argument, expostulations, information, philosophy and just about any other feat the human voice is capable of accomplishing over the phone.”

Bodine also hosted “Nightbeat” from 1965 to 1968 and “Sunday Night Town Hall” from 1968 to 1974 on WHB-AM. In 1978 he moved his public-forum concept of talk radio to KMBZ-AM until joining KCUR in 1983, the same year he began doing commentaries for KMBC-TV, Channel 9.

Through the years, he also was an editorial writer for KMBZ; news director at KCIT-TV, Channel 50; host of “Bodine’s Beat” on KSHB-TV, Channel 41; and beginning in 1983 a professor in the communication studies department at UMKC. He also found time to write restaurant reviews in the ’90s.

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