|Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn with Mason Dixon (WRBQ Photo)|
“40 years of doing what love, I feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life,” said Dixon. “My job, plus raising a family in the most beautiful area anywhere, makes me feel truly a lucky man and I’m still loving every minute of it."
|Mason Dixon (WRBQ Photo)|
The radio veteran is extremely involved in the community. In 2002, he created his own Florida non-profit, the “Mason Dixon Christmas Wish Fund, Inc”. Through the “Christmas Wish”, Dixon has been able to help families who have fallen on hard times throughout the holidays, especially those who may have fallen through the cracks of public assistance. Over the past 16 years, the non-profit organization has raised over 2 million dollars and has helped more than 5,000 local families.
In a 2008 article for the now defunct Tampa Bay Tribune, reporter Walt Belcher chronicled the Tampa career of Mason Dixon.
Little Jimmie Crawford grew-up a good ol' boy from Memphis and started calling himself Mason Dixon (as a symbolic reference to the cultural differences between the northern and southern states).
It has become one of the most recognizable monikers in the Tampa Bay area because Dixon has been entertaining radio audiences here for four decades.
|'Back In The Day'|
"He was the guru of crazy, wacky radio," Dixon says. "I idolized him because he made people laugh and listen and he broke in artists, and those are things that I have been able to do myself."
Dixon came to Tampa in February 1978 and went on the air at WRBQ in early March as an afternoon disc jockey. He also was the station's operations manager. "I did it pretty straight back then, just playing music and talking about the artist," he says.
Dixon left WRBQ in 1989 in a dispute with station management. He had a year left on a contract, and a non-compete clause prohibited him from working in the Tampa area. He kept his home here and spent about six months running an FM station in Birmingham, Ala. He returned to Tampa airwaves in 1990 on WMTX (then known as Mix 96). During a six-year run there, he started his annual Christmas Wish charity.
"We've raised thousands of dollars over the years to help hundreds of people who need a little help at Christmas," he says. "People can hear the requests and hear us grant the wish. This is something I'm proud of because it makes a difference in the community."
In 1996, Dixon left WMTX in another contract dispute.
Beating The Bushes
This may have been the lowest point in his career, he says. Over the years, he had survived numerous management and ownership changes, changes in formats and changes in musical tastes. "We were beating the bushes for another shot, and we had beaten them about as much as you could," he says. "I was beginning to wonder if it was over, but we landed at Oldies U92."
CBS-owned U92 (WYUU) was playing the music of the '60s and '70s. As program director, Dixon changed the format to the "Greatest Hits of the '60s and '70s." CBS had acquired WRBQ, which had been a country station since the early 1990s. Dixon persuaded the company to switch the WRBQ and WYUU formats. He had come full circle, back to the station where his Tampa career had started.
In 2005, Dixon survived a serious automobile accident when his restored 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible was hit by a sport utility vehicle that went out of control. He suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs and had his spleen removed. He has since replaced the Challenger with a 1970 Challenger, a replica of the car from the 1971 film "Vanishing Point." "I think the angels were watching out for me," he says. "I came close to dying, but I guess a higher power felt I wasn't done here yet."