Friends Remember Legendary Radio Broadcaster Bob Kingsley - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Friends Remember Legendary Radio Broadcaster Bob Kingsley

Kingsley, 80, died of cancer at his home in Weatherford

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Friends Remember Legendary Radio Broadcaster Bob Kingsley

    Friends remember iconic broadcaster Bob Kingsley at a celebration of life in Weatherford. The man whose voice was synonymous with country music died Thursday while being treated for cancer. (Published Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019)

    Radio legend Bob Kingsley died Thursday, October 17 at his home in Weatherford while being treated for cancer. He was 80 and died a week after announcing the news he'd been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

    Kingsley spent more than six decades in radio dominating the country music format. Name the country music star - Garth Brooks, the late Johnny Cash, Reba McIntire, Dolly Parton, George Strait and on and on - and they all knew the legendary radio man.

    "The biggest thrill of your day was listening on Sunday morning and have Bob play one of your records," remembered Red Steagall who first met Kingsley in the '60s in Hollywood when the Texan was beginning his career in country music and Kingsley was rising to prominence.

    Kingsley loved the music, the music makers and sharing it with his listeners on the radio. He debuted on local radio in the '60s, then nationally on American Country Countdown and since 2006 on Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 started by him and his wife of 30 years and business partner Nan Kingsley. He was the most listened to voice in country music radio and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

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    While country music lost a legendary voice, Parker Country lost a friend. The Kingsleys moved to Weatherford some time ago where Bob immersed himself in his another great passion - cutting horses.  He learned to ride horses during summers at his grandmother's house in Oregon. 

    "He loved horses. He loved the cutting but most of all he loved Nan," said Steagall, who became a legend in the country music business himself and shared a friendship with Kingsley that stretched more than 50 years. "He was one of the most unbelievable people I've ever met," Steagall said at a celebration of life Friday at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center in Weatherford. 

    Steagall and others choked back tears as they remembered a man who "if you were his friend, you were his best friend," said friend Ken Welch. "He's the kind of guy we'd all like to be like."

    Welch shared a story about a time when the two were in a restaurant in Weatherford and the conversation Kingsley had with a server who knew nothing about his celebrated radio career. "She told him, 'Sir, you have what's known as a radio voice. You should pursue a career in radio.' He said, 'Ma'am, that's probably the kindest thing anyone's said to me. I'm gonna remember that.'"

    "I loved that man. And, it hurts. It hurts," said Tom Holt, considered the 'voice of cutting' for his announcing at horse shows. Holt described his longtime friend as honest and sincere saying he was "blessed to have known Bob. Bob was special. Bob was unique."

    Kingsley's love for radio and music is rooted in the year he spent in bed and in isolation after contracting polio. "I would listen to the radio," he said in an obituary posted by Gailbreaith-Pickard Funeral Chapel, "and certain shows became really important to me. It was complete escapism and entertainment. I didn't realize the imprint it was making, but it obviously stayed with me."

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    Kingsley joined the Air Force at 18 and was an announcer on Armed Forces radio. It was the beginning of a career that made him one of the most beloved and iconic figures in country music. 

    A video played at the service told the story of his life with comments from country music stars such as Keith Urban who described Kingsley as "part of the fabric with radio."

    The threads of Kingsley's life weave into a story of a man admired, respected, talented and loved by those fortunate enough to know him. 

    "A fella couldn't find a better friend," Steagall said. "He was the ultimate gentleman, the best of friends," Steagall said.

    Steagall closed the service with a poem written by Baxter Black called I Know You'll Miss This Man, "And I know it might seem selfish to friends and next of kin but I needed one more cowboy and Bob fit right in."

    Another celebration of Kingsley's life will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at The CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. 

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Kingsley's name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.

    OBIT FROM GAILBREAITH-PICKARD FUNERAL CHAPEL IN WEATHERFORD

    Bob Kingsley, a radio legend whose voice was synonymous with Country music, died on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at his home in Weatherford, Texas while receiving treatment for cancer. He was 80.

    One of broadcasting's most beloved and iconic figures, Kingsley was a mainstay on the radio for 60 years. His dominance in the Country format began in 1978 when he took over as host of American Country Countdown after four years as the show's producer for one of radio's founding syndication companies, Watermark, founded by Tom Rounds. In 2006, he and his wife and business partner Nan Kingsley established Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40, produced by their own KCCS Productions, still running on more than 320 stations. 

    Kingsley received many of broadcasting's top honors and was named to the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. He is the namesake and was the first recipient of the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award, presented each year since 2014 at the Grand Ole Opry House and benefiting the Opry Trust Fund.

    They were among the many fruits of a career built on a simple premise. "I love the music and the people who make it," he once said, "and I want our listeners to have as much insight into both as I can give them, and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible." Bob's love for radio and music dated to his childhood, when polio kept him in bed and in near isolation for a year. "I would listen to the radio," he said, "and certain shows became really important to me. It was complete escapism and entertainment. I didn't realize the imprint it was making, but it obviously stayed with me."

    At 18, Kingsley joined the Air Force and served in Keflavik, Iceland, where he jumped at a chance to become an announcer on Armed Forces Radio. That experience and his love of Country music would carry him to legendary stations like KFOX, KGBS, KFI, and KLAC in Los Angeles, and to his role as the voice of Drake-Chenault's Great American Country format, used by hundreds of Country radio stations.

    His role as host of American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley made him a household name. He supplemented the weekly countdown with Christmas specials, album release specials for artists including Alabama, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood, and for many years a daily artist spotlight called America's Music Makers. With Kingsley at the helm, the show was named Billboard's Network/Syndicated Country Program of the Year for 16 years in a row.

    Kingsley received the Academy of Country Music's Major Market On-Air Personality of the Year Award in 1966 and 1967 and was named the Country Music Association's National Broadcast Personality of the Year in 2001 and 2003. He was voted National Air Personality of the Year five times by Country Radio Broadcasters and Country Aircheck and won the ACM's 2007 National Broadcast Personality of the Year Award. He was chosen as the recipient of the 2012 President's Award by the CRB. In 2017, Bob received the Mae Boren Axton Service Award in recognition of his dedication and service to the ACM, on whose board he served for decades. He was twice the host and emcee of Alabama's legendary June Jam.

    Kingsley served in 2004 and 2005 as Master of Ceremonies at the National Veterans Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, one of many national and regional events to which he has volunteered time and energy, and he helped get information on benefits to countless veterans through vehicles like his Veterans Day 2005 radio special, "Bob Kingsley Salutes America's Veterans." He was the recipient of the Wounded Warrior Project's Tony Snow Award for the significant difference he has made in the lives of injured servicemen and women. 

    His many charitable endeavors included work for Disabled American Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wounded Warrior Project, Careity Foundation, and the Palliative Unit of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, among others. 

    An avid cutting horse enthusiast, he lived and worked with his wife of 30 years, Nan, on their Bluestem Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. 

    A celebration of life will be held in Weatherford, Texas at The Doss Heritage and Culture Center on Friday, October 18, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. and in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at The CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Kingsley's name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.

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