Radio legend Walt Bodine to retire

Kansas City’s radio patriarch Walt Bodine will retire at the end of the month, according to a tweet from KCUR’s Up to Date show. Bodine, 91, has been hosting the Walt Bodine Show since 1983, and began his broadcasting career in 1940. His final broadcast will be Friday, April 27.

The author of three books, including 2003’s “My Times, My Town,” Bodine’s career has spanned radio, TV and print. He was one of the first staffers at WDAF-TV, where he worked from 1947 to 1965. KCUR has a nice recap of his career here.

A link to a story on KCUR’s website was inaccessible late Sunday night.

Bodine’s health had deteriorated in recent years, according to The Star, and he has been appearing on air exclusively on Fridays.

Tom Bodine said his father wasn’t in good enough health to be interviewed for this article. He has been frail for some time, blind and in a wheelchair.

“The latest adventure in aging is that his memory is fading out, and that’s been the clincher as far as his work,” Tom Bodine said. “He’s had a very loyal and intelligent audience in public radio. Even when age has held him back, his audience has been there with him.”

Bodine’s philosophy of journalism was summed up in his memoir, “My Times, My Town,” and graciously posted to Wikipedia:

“For too long news directors have operated on the theory, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Maybe they should consider that the audience requires something more than blood and gore and sex. Can it really be that the only thing that interests us is human misbehavior? …Emphasis put on the daily bucket of blood does nothing to answer the broad array of serious problems facing the nation, the states and the city.”

His former assistant, Gina Kauffman, told The Star he liked to keep things simple.

“He often said, ‘Let’s not get too exotic,’ ” Kaufmann said. “The local aspect of the show was dear to him. If a show idea seemed to be getting too big for our britches, he would remind us what we were there to do. And he was right.”

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