A pair of stories making the rounds today has to make you wonder about the sanctity of youth…
That august Kansas City radio talk show host Walt Bodine of public radio station KCUR FM is retiring is one thing. Bodine’s 91 and the awful truth is management’s been counting the days, waiting for him to bail for probably 20 years. And as significant as Bodine’s contributions have been, his retirement is long overdue.
And that’s just the tip of today’s Really Old Dudes iceberg.
The story that gets me – really gets me – is about the slimy dude who helped his wife scam KU for all those basketball tickets ($2 million worth that they know of) appealing his 46-month sentence from a year back.
That’s right, former KU athletic department consultant Thomas Blubaugh wants his sentence reduced to 33 months. He’s in the slammer in Oklahoma and thinks the sentencing judge relied too heavily on heresay.
Now the kicker…
Blubaugh’s sentencing judge was a 104 year-old Kansas man by the name of Wesley E. Brown.
Turns out Brown was the longest serving federal judge, oldest federal judge still hearing cases and the oldest dude to serve as a federal judge in the history of this country when he checked out on January 23rd.
This guy was probably rolling his own cigarettes when Bodine was still in diapers.
Check out this six year-old photo of Brown on Wikipedia. Below it, it says: "No higher resolution available."
No higher resolution indeed – this guys high school picture was probably in pen and ink.
But enough about Brown and the KU ticket scandal – back to Bodine.
I’ll never forget – nor will a certain KCUR general manager by the name of Patricia Cahill – the day in 1996 when she told the world Bodine was history.
It was 16 years ago then that the Star trotted out a largely pro-Bodine, front-page story about his axing.
"KCUR-FM calls a quick ending for the dean of KC broadcasting’s radio show," read the partial headline.
"He was told after completing his one-hour show Monday and before undergoing outpatient eye surgery that his contract would not be renewed and that `The Walt Bodine Show’ had been canceled," it reads.
Bodine’s take at the time: “It came as a total shock to me.”
The story noted that Bodine had been legally blind since the mid-1970s and that "several sources close to Bodine and the station, who declined to be identified, said the quality of his show had declined in recent years (and) he was often ill-prepared to interview high-profile guests."
Despite which the local media beatdown of Cahill was so intense she nearly had a nervous breakdown and Bodine was rehired.
“The venom that I hear on the answering machine from the messages that we’ve got at the station – it scares me, it’s so mean,” Cahill told me at the time. “And people are so quick to judge without knowing all of the details. And that scares me in a way, too. ”
Cahill reluctantly accepted being the scapegoat for Walt’s axing but told me then it was not a one-woman decision.
Like the anonymous dudes in the front page story, Cahill would have liked to have laid down the story-behind-the-story on Bodine’s firing but…
"I can’t,” she told me. “It is not possible for everyone to know everything that happened … because it’s a personnel matter, it’s a confidential matter. ”
As for Bodine not being given an on-air, Goodbye Mr. Chips farewell, "People don’t say ‘Goodbye’ on the radio," Cahill told me. "They say ‘Hello’ on the radio."
Times have changed…
This time around Bodine will indeed be allowed to say goodbye on KCUR at 10 a.m. April 27th.
And as for Cahill, she’s slated to retire in June after 25 years at the station.
Her parting shot this time around: "We hope Walt will still come by the station," she told the Star. "We don’t want to lose track of Walt or to let our listeners lose track of him."
Speaking of losing track, in a perfect world, this story would have been written by Star television and media beat writer Aaron Barnhart. However, as I wrote here two months back Barnhart has been out of sight since late last year. That after previously being diagnosed with cancer that was thought to be in remission. Sources say Barnhart’s unexplained departure is thought to be health related.
All of which adds up to the one thing; it’s sucks getting old sometimes.