Radio personality Bob Kingsley talks about being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Cowboys & Indians: Congratulations on being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. How does it feel to be up there with the other legends?
Bob Kingsley: [Laughs.] I thought about it a number of times over the years, having being nominated a time or two. But when I heard I’d finally made it, all I could say was, “Are you sure?” Boy, I’m not that articulate to be able to say what a great feeling it is. It’s just sensational. It just is. And the thing that tickles me the most, quite honestly, is that there’s people in there that — well, I can’t believe that I will be hanging in the hall with them.
C&I: Do you remember what it was like doing the first show after you got word of the honor?
Bob: You know what? It pumped everybody up. It really did. The truth is, everybody that I’m involved with in this program deserves to be a part of this. If it wasn’t for them, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation. There’s a core of about five or six that are as dedicated to it as I am. And yes, it was pretty special walking into the studio the next week.
C&I: Between American Country Countdown and Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40, you’ve been working in this format for four decades. What are some of the significant changes you’ve seen in the country music world along the way?
Bob: Truthfully, I think that the country music business started to change around 1962. Ray Price was really hot at the time, and right in the middle of that, he comes out with a record called “Walk Me to the Door” that had strings on it. I was working part-time at KFOX in Long Beach [California], filling in and hanging out as much as I could. Well, there was a big-time disc jockey named Biff Collie on the air. And Ray called to promote the record. They were talking, and in the meantime — I guess Biff hadn’t heard it, so he had somebody run to the library and pull it out and bring it in. Then he played it. And when it was over, he just lit into Ray about, “What was with the strings?” He just went on and on about the strings and how Ray had forsaken the country music format. Poor Ray said, “I was just trying to do something a little different, Biff.” [Laughs.] I think that’s when the changes started.
C&I: Of course, the debate continues to this day over what is “real” country music and what isn’t.
Bob: No doubt about it. There’s definitely a rock element in it now. Florida Georgia Line has certainly proved that. But who’s the superstar out of all of them right now? Blake Shelton. And you can’t get more country than that. On the other hand, Brad Paisley has definitely been a country star. But he’s trying something a little new and different with that new record of his with Demi Lovato. [It’s] a different kind of guitar sound that I’ve never heard from him. I think it sounds pretty darn good.
C&I: Brad Paisley actually got to perform in concert with the Rolling Stones last year in Nashville.
Bob: You can’t ignore the influence the Stones or these other big-time rock acts have. If you go back however many years, in some places where you had only the one radio station, maybe it was just a country station. Now, it’s a whole different ballgame. I do a tremendous amount of interviews, and I’m always asking, “What did you grow up with?” And I’ll hear things like, “I grew up with everything. I grew up with soul. I grew up with rap. I grew up with rock ’n’ roll. I grew up with AC/DC. But at the same time, my dad played a lot of Johnny Cash around the house. And my mother was a Loretta Lynn fan.” When you have that many influences — well, that’s what you’re hearing today.
ON THE AIR: Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40, distributed by the Westwood One radio network, can be heard on local affiliates nationwide and streamed online.
From the December 2016 issue.