What About Bob?
May 26, 2016
The year is 1985, and I’m at a urinal in a noisy, packed men’s room at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel. Yeah, I know – try to un-see that image – sorry. It’s my first-ever CRS, and moments earlier, I watched a keynote address from broadcasting pioneer and radio legend Gordon McClendon. An older gentleman appears to my right, saying nothing; strictly business.
Suddenly, a booming voice fills the room, emanating from my left. The unmistakable timbre belongs to none other than Bob Kingsley. I recognize it immediately, without even looking. This is a good thing, because trust me – keeping one’s head on a swivel in a crowded men’s room is definitely bad form and easily misinterpreted.
Anyway, Bob is talking to the older guy. That guy is Gordon McClendon. This is my first “CRS moment,” and it involves two radio legends in the same place, at the same time, albeit an awkward one. In a moment like that, my young, aspiring self wants to meet these legends and shake their hand. Thankfully, I remember where I am, maintain radio silence, keeping my hands to myself, as it were.
But that voice. Commanding, authoritative. Imposing, yet accessible. I’d heard it on the radio many times. Even in the men’s room (or maybe especially, because: acoustics), it was all these things, and Bob Kingsley wasn’t even counting backwards. It’s been that way on a weekly basis for what seems like forever, right? OK, not forever, but Bob has been giving us the week’s 40 hottest Country songs for over four decades, and that’s a hella long time.
I just told a story that happened 31 years ago. Kingsley was an icon then – and still is. After all, Bob’s last name starts with the word “King,” right? Recognition and awards? Check, and check. Lots of both over the years. CMA and ACM National Personality Of The Year awards; Billboard named him Network/Syndicated Program of the Year 16 times; three times a CRB Air Personality Of The Year honoree; Country Radio Hall of Fame inductee in 1998; CRB President’s Award recipient in 2012. In 2014, the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award was established – it’s first recipient? Bob Kingsley, of course.
There’s very little Kingsley hasn’t accomplished or been feted with in his career, except one honor: induction into the National Radio Hall Of Fame. Crazy, right? What in the wide world of sports does a guy like Kingsley have to do to get in there? What’s left to prove? Ralph Emery is in. Fellow countdown legend, Casey Kasem, is in. Los Angeles radio icons Charlie Tuna and Robert W. Morgan made it. Cumulus’ syndicated “America’s Morning Show” host Blair Garner is a 2013 inductee. And, file this under Dept. of Irony: Garner will be enshrined into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame on Wednesday, June 22nd. Wanna know who’s formally inducting him? Bob Kingsley.
Bob has been nominated for the National Radio Hall several times before and – I know I’m preaching to the choir here – but this just seems like a layup to me. No brainer. Boom! Give him a fast-pass, put him in, moving on. But no, not yet.
Well, Kingsley is nominated again here in 2016, and this time, it’s personal. For a lot of us. Because Kingsley, whether you know him well or at all, has made us feel like we have a personal relationship with him over the years. Artists love him and can tell you detailed stories of the first time their song made it on Bob’s countdown, be it his original home, “American Country Countdown,” or his current show, “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40.”
Kingsley is in the “Music Format On-Air Personality” category, which will be voted on by the public, beginning Monday, June 20th. The day his 2016 nomination was announced, Scripps KVOO/Tulsa morning personality Rowdy Yates – who is also the Dir./Operations of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame – built a Facebook page called “Count Me In Bob,” which is designed to build awareness of Kingsley’s latest nomination and the public voting window. Yates also created the hashtag: #countmeinbob. The page racked up 700 likes in 48 hours and has been shared by a ton of Bob’s industry friends.
Details on how to vote have not yet been released, but in years past, a link for the public to access and vote has gone live the day voting starts. It’ll be a tight window, too, as the National Radio Hall has announced it will reveal 2016 inductees on Monday July 11th.
I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t want Kingsley to receive this recognition or doesn’t think he’s worthy; and frankly, if there is someone out there who feels that way, well… I guess I don’t want to know them anymore. That’s because Kingsley falls into the category of: if you have a problem with him, then clearly, that’s a YOU problem.
So, leading up to June 20th, here’s the plan: Right now, awareness. Lots of awareness about Kingsley’s nomination and the upcoming June 20th voting window. Especially for those affiliates of his “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40” show. The weekend before voting starts – Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th – is a great time for affiliates to run a quick, local insert in Bob’s show congratulating him on the nomination and urging fans to vote starting Monday, June 20th. Tell listeners to look for the voting link on your website that morning. Share the “Count Me In Bob” Facebook and Twitter pages via station social media, or create your own content explaining what the campaign is all about. Just don’t forget to hashtag it #countmeinbob.
Artists are also being encouraged to step up, because all of them have a great fondness for Kingsley. For the artists who are active on social media, the hope is they will first do an announcement saying congrats, endorsing Kingsley, and informing fans about the June 20th vote kickoff. Then on June 20th, when the link to vote goes live, a post or retweet of that link and a call to vote for Bob from artists to fans could help propel Bob to an induction win.
Continue sharing the Facebook page. Post pictures of you and Bob, or your favorite Bob Kingsley story there. Remember to always use the hashtag: #countmeinbob. Also know that Bob Kingsley would never, ever campaign for this honor or any other. That may be why he’s been nominated but never inducted for the National Radio Hall Of Fame before, a victim of his own humility. But he is deserving, no argument about that. If it takes a social media effort waged by his friends in the industry to get this done, well – count me in, too.