Friday, December 8, 2023

Dallas radio talk show titan’s heart is in Argyle

George Dunham talks about his roughly 90-mile drive to and from Dallas every day as if it’s a good thing. Don’t worry; he knows it’s not. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who enjoys that trek. But Dunham breezes through it without hesitation because he’s focused more on the payoff — an über-popular morning drive-time radio show on one end of the trip and the quiet town of Argyle on the other.

And if you get him talking long enough, it may surprise you which one he looks forward to the most.

“It’s worth the drive because when I get home, I’m not surrounded by concrete and big buildings,” Dunham said of living in Argyle. “It’s got that small-town feel — we’ve got a ranch behind us. It’s quiet and far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.”

It’s hard to imagine that someone with such a larger-than-life personality could be quietly tucked away in Argyle. For years, Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith have entertained audiences on 96.7 FM/1310 AM The Ticket with their morning show, “The Musers.” It is currently the longest-running morning show with the same crew in Dallas-Fort Worth, and it was announced that the trio will be inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in November.

A 1988 graduate of UNT, Dunham’s popularity can only be outflanked by his litany of nicknames — Jub-Jub, The Jubinator, The Commander, Jah, and Georgio are just a few. He also served as the UNT Mean Green’s football play-by-play announcer for 20 years, and, among his many hobbies, he’s a member of the country music band, the Bird Dogs.

That’s quite a busy life in the spotlight. And yet, Dunham is just as quick to retreat to his quiet life in Argyle. He and his wife, Kelly, have lived in Argyle since 2007. They were previously in Coppell for 20 years before they got the itch to find someplace quieter and off the beaten path. And to hear him talk about the town is like listening to someone who found his own personal slice of heaven.

“Argyle has changed a lot in 15 years, but it still has that small-town feel we loved from the beginning,” he said. “Our son Blake played on the first Argyle Eagles team to go undefeated during the regular season in 2009. He went on to play at North Texas and then came back to coach and helped Argyle win a state title in 2020. Scotty played from 2015 to 2017; they were both deep snappers and linebackers. I got to call some of those games on the radio where Scotty was playing, and Blake was coaching. They call on me for radio help in an emergency, and I’m happy to help.”

He added, “The kids are grown up now, but you still feel like you know just about everyone in town. That’s what we want.”

Naturally, the Dunhams have done all they can to get involved. Kelly helped kick-start a Young Men’s Service League and constantly volunteered when the boys were in school. In January 2012, the community was rocked to its core when Alex Betzhold, a local 7th-grader and family friend, died unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest. As George put it, Alex simply went to bed one day and didn’t wake up the next. The Dunhams were very close with the Betzholds, who eventually created the Shoot for the Stars Foundation in Alex’s memory. George immediately got involved in every way possible.

Alex loved basketball, and The Bird Dogs have participated actively in the annual Shoot for the Stars Basketball Tournament and Music Festival ever since. With the help of other bands, The Bird Dogs produce a concert to raise funds for the foundation. The foundation awards scholarships to high school students and, in recent years, built a memorial outdoor basketball court in Alex’s honor.

“The community had a candlelight vigil after Alex died, and we were there as a family,” Dunham said. “As it was ending, a shooting star darted across the sky. Unless you saw it, it was hard to describe — it was bright … I’d never seen something like that before, and it was a really powerful moment that changed a lot of things for me and all of us. There’s more to life than going to work and your average day-to-day stuff. And as much as I enjoyed music and having the band, I wanted what we were doing to have a purpose. The event we participate in each year is very powerful and symbolizes what we all think of Alex and the Betzhold family.”

As for the future, Dunham will happily continue making the trek to Dallas in the wee hours of the morning and get his fix for the bright lights and shenanigans of hosting a radio show. And when he’s not doing that, a new adventure is bound to cross his desk.

But at the end of the day — Argyle is where he’d rather be.

“We just feel fortunate that we found this place, met the people we’ve met, and can be even a small part of this community,” he said.

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