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Barry Kilgore

by Bill Cherry
I saw the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie, "Play 'Misty' for Me" by accident. I knew nothing about it or the story before it began to unfold on our TV.

But I quickly knew that the tale had to have been conceived by a late-night disc jockey, and I was sure of that because I was one of them when I was a student at Tulane and doing the "American Airline’s Music 'til Dawn" program in New Orleans. We’re talking about the late '50s.

Some women, I don’t know the reason, would get attached to the late-night DJ’s voice. Night after night their mind would work on assigning him his personality. Contemporaneously they would give him a face, a statute, a demeanor. And then they would become obsessed with that creation of their mind.

Next they’d begin calling and requesting a special song. Always the same song. Soon a bit of chit-chat would work its way into the phone calls. Then sexual innuendo. And then the final blow, the one that was predictable and that we feared - they'd begin to stalk us. You wouldn't know which one was she, but you knew in your bones she was there among them.

You see, those of us who did those programs were a special breed of DJ. In essence, we were radio actors, playing the part for the radio audience of the debonair, urbane man-about-town. Always a bachelor. Always a Double O Seven style of guy. Hard to pin down. A Beefeater martini with a twist was our cocktail, stirred ever so lightly.

Let me tell you about Barry Kilgore. First and foremost, he's a talented psychologist. In fact he developed an interesting and very successful mental recovery tactic when he was interning at Risk Mental Hospital.

But he's also a psychologist who worked his way through Stephen F. Austin University as a DJ, one of us, a late-night radio actor.
Barry Kilgore
Barry Kilgore. Photo courtesy Barry Kilgore

Forty years later he remains in radio, now as the host in the Houston market of "Family Law Radio Sunday," a program that explores many insidious challenges to family life like parental alienation. It is one of the most popular programs on KSEV-AM.

But by far his most famous years were as the afternoon drive time host on KQUE-FM with co-host Cindy Kasperian - "The Barry and Cindy Show." KQUE-FM and KNUZ-AM were legendary stations in the Houston market, founded and owned by my friend, Dave Morris.

In addition to Barry, it was the radio home of Paul Berlin, Walt Hammock, Ronnie Renfrow, Scott Arthur, Arch Yancey, Webb Hunt and on and on.

Barry’s had his share of "Play 'Misty' for Me" experiences. But one took an entirely different twist. And rather than involve a woman, it involved a man.

Back when Barry was at the university in Nacogdoches, he worked as the late-night jock at KSFA. As so often happens, out of the blue the station’s program director had decided that the station would get better listener numbers if it were to ditch the country-western format and go to some kind of noisy rock and roll.

The first evening after the change, Barry was at the console. The phone rang. "You killed my chickens and I'm coming down there to kill you," the man's somewhat crazed voice said.

"Sir, I don’t know you. How could I have killed your chickens?"

"My chickens have listened to KSFA for years and years. The country music made them happy, so happy that the eggs they laid were plentiful and the best in East Texas. Now all they do is squawk and flap their wings in disgust. And the eggs? You should see these eggs they’re laying. Can’t sell those scrawny things anywhere, and the rooster is on strike.

"Yep, I comin' down there now to kill ya'."

Barry hung up and called the sheriff’s office and told the dispatcher about the threat.

No sympathy came from the dispatcher. "“He ought to kill ya'. That stuff you're playing is terrible. Go back to country and he'll leave you alone."

"But I can’t do that, sir. I just work here. The program director makes those decisions.”

“Tell you what. Keep your door locked. If he shows up, call us and we'll come get him."

So it was a cool night, and Barry had the windows in the second floor radio studio open. He heard a truck coming and saw it park at the curb outside the station. The man got out with a shotgun.

"Oh, great! He's here. What do I do now?"

Barry called, "OK, he's here and he's got a shotgun. I’m terrified."

"We've got a unit just up the street from you. I’ll send him over to straighten things out. But you’d best start playing country music again. We might not be able to save you the next time."

Barry took his psychology degree and graduate work, his radio talent and he got out of Dodge. And now today, with all of his education on how the mind works, and his ability to dig out and express the problems that challenge family life, he and Houston attorney Larry Behrmann work in concert to resolve those issues, one by one, for the law firm’s clients. And they discuss them with guests every Sunday at 1 on KSEV - The Voice.

It's been years, now, since he's picked up the phone in the middle of the night to hear a woman’s voice say, "Will you play 'Misty' for me." Barry prefers it that way.

Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories May 4, 2009 column
Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved

Related Topics: Texas Music | People | Texas | Online Magazine |

Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.

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