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Meet the Radio Ranger

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If you were a foreigner, just learning conversational English, it’s conceivable that you’d confuse the words radio and rodeo.  No problem: both roads would lead to Kevin Woodson’s house – uh, ranch.  

Woodson has been a fixture in the Argyle area for more than a dozen years, although many who’ve heard him have never seen him, as far as they know.

He’s been an important part of notable radio shows such as Tom Joyner’s, Doug Banks’, and worked with comedian George Wallace, amongst others.  Many others.  He currently broadcasts, from our area, to stations in Chicago; Milwaukee; Memphis; Jacksonville; and Columbia, SC; and probably a few more that weren’t top of mind during our recent Friday night chat.

But while Woodson may not be visible to those he touches, due to geography or the inherent “man behind the curtain” nature of radio, he’s very foreground when he’s horsing around, literally.  He started riding horses by frequenting rodeos at age 2, when most of us were just learning to use a spoon.  And lest you think that it was because he grew up in some tumbleweed-blowing-type area of Wyoming, think again.  He grew up in St. Louis, but, to paraphrase the bumper sticker, he galloped here as fast as he could.

Woodson explains, “After graduating college in St. Louis, with a degree in communications, I went to an interview in a bank.  I got stood up.  But I checked out the rest of the building and checked in to apply to two radio stations: an urban station was on the 3rd floor and a country station was on the 8th.”

Having eclectic musical tastes, he saw both, KATZ-AM and KZEN-FM, as employment potential.  Not long afterwards, he got the call, asking him if he could come in and do the evening news.  They haven’t often pried a microphone out of his hands since, unless it were to hand him the reins of a horse…but he’s managed to use both, simultaneously, in the worlds of rodeo riding, roping, and announcing. 

Woodson is a track announcer at the famous Ft.Worth Stock & Rodeo Show.  “I announce from the booth at that venue, but for all the others, such as the Mesquite rodeo, I wear a mic-headset while in the saddle.  He’s also the voice of the Cowboys of Color Rodeo Tour.  It highlights the contributions of Indians’, Mexicans’ and Africans’ roles in the settling of the Wild West – a modern day Buffalo Bill.

“I was actually a rodeo clown and bullfighter for many years.  I worked the circuit:  Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kansas, you name it.  I came to Texas and “retired” at 36.”

Or so he’d thought.  The radio career reignited, and he soon found himself working with legendary Morning Man Tom Joyner at ABC radio, where he stayed for 14 years.  He honed his skills doing impersonations of a wide range of people such as President Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Judge Roy Brown, Pee Wee Herman, and Sylvester Stallone.  He also created original recurring characters, such as Lindo Gideon, a Jamaican cabbie; Melvin, a hairdresser who gave callers love advice; Cletus Tuggle, an unabashed backwoods redneck; and Mrs. Leonard, an elderly black woman, who Oprah called her favorite of all his characters.  Woodson has been referred to as the “Black Mel Blanc,” the man known for hundreds of voices you grew up with, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig.

But, while you can take the boy out of the saddle, well, actually…you just can’t, so never you mind that cliché.  He got serious about roping and ropes calves while mic’ed for the rodeo announcing job.  He is definitely home on the range. 

When asked which career he’d pick, between radio and rodeo, he doesn’t take long to say, “If the money were the same, I’d be working with horses.  When we were young and my mom would buy us three books at a time, one of mine had to be about horses.”

Speaking of his mom, Woodson waxes, “When I was only about four years old, I told one of my mother’s best friends, Mrs. Eva Taylor, ‘One day, when I’m big and in the rodeo, I’ll ride around during the grand entry, put you on the back of my horse , and give you a ride in front of all the people.”

And ride around he does, daily, on his local ranch.  If you’re looking for lessons on western horsemanship, roping, etc, call him at 940-367-8649 or email him at: kwoo319@aol.com.  He probably checks his email while hog-tying a buffalo.

There is one danger about talking with Woodson:  with his wide knowledge and love of such things as guitar playing, western movies/TV shows, and baseball, it’ll be a dangerously long conversation; but probably the best one of your entire week.

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