Living Legends of Abilene TV and Radio – Our Top 5
I have been in radio now for about 13 years and, during that time, I have seen so many people in the Abilene media that have come and gone. However, there are some that have been around far longer than I have and they have become living legends in their own right. So, here is a look at Living Legends of Abilene TV and Radio - Our Top 5.
Bob Bartlett has been an anchor/journalist for KTAB TV for 32 years. He actually got his start in radio but quickly made the move to TV and landed his first TV assignment in 1970 for a fundraiser in Detroit Michigan. Bob has interviewed a ton of people including Bob Segar and Ronald Reagan, and he has covered everything from the 9/11 attacks to major local stories. Ever since I was old enough to turn the channels on the TV, I have seen Bob Bartlett report news as it happens and he has become a living legend in Abilene media. Bob still rocks out news reports for KTAB every week day.
Downing Bolls is another old school radio DJ turned TV personality. Downing got his start in radio in 1973. In fact, in 1976 he worked for KRBC radio before going to TV in 1987. During my years in radio, I've had the pleasure of working with Downing on a variety of fundraisers including the big MDA telethon, and the guy is one true classy guy that has done a lot for his community. Bolls is out of the media biz now, but he stays focused on the community and is now a judge in Taylor County. In fact, you can check out a TV ad on his run for County Judge below.
Besides a small stint in Kansas in 2002, Rudy Fernandez has been a fixture at KEAN radio since 1978. What sets Rudy apart from others, is his work in the community. In over 30 years of doing radio, Rudy has done everything from being buried alive in a coffin to riding a Ferris wheel 5 days straight - all in the name of charity. Now, I grew up listening to Rock 108, but it didn't matter what you listened to, everybody knew Rudy Fernandez, so it was really cool, when I got into radio, I was able to actually work with him. Rudy was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame a few years ago and continues to do mornings on KEAN.
I have been a faithful Rock 108 listener ever since I was old enough to know how to turn the dial and one personality that I will always remember is Randy Jones. Randy had been in radio for over 31 years. He got his start at the young age of 16 in 1978 at KCAD, a Christian AM station. The Abilene airwaves changed forever in 1987 when KEYJ was launched using music from albums that Randy was sent out to buy at Hastings making him one of Abilene's rock radio pioneers. As I said before, I listened to Rock 108 religiously and remember hearing Randy's smooth voice and thinking that I might become a DJ one day. It took several years, and careers, but in 1997 Randy hired me on to do overnights and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, Randy is our Operations Manager and runs our sister stations, KFGL (True Oldies) and KULL (MIX 92.5).
Well, he'll probably kill me for this, but I consider Frank Pain another "living legend". 'The Painman' has been doing radio for 19 years and has been with KEYJ for almost 18 years. After the torch was passed to him from Randy, Rock 108 continued to gain momentum and has become what it is today because of his dedication to the music as well as the live music vibe in Abilene. I met Frank when I got into radio in 1997 as he was the host of the metal show "Powerplay" before doing mornings with Randy Jones. Not only has he been very instrumental in how Rock 108 is today, but he has helped me become the DJ that I have become today. Pain does a lot of charity work and continues to rock us out everyday on Midday Mayhem.