If you live in the Phoenix – Scottsdale area of Arizona or if you winter here or if you’ve ever been here for the holidays, then you know of Bill Heywood. And if you read the news no matter where you live, chances are you have heard of him by now.
I recieved this email today.
“Friends and loyal listeners, In 1979, I was graduating from Elko High School in Nevada and learning the ropes of radio at KELK, 1240 AM. All I had ever wanted to do in life was be a morning radio personality. That’s it. My dream never wavered, never changed and never faded. I was living in Nevada due to my parent’s divorce, but my father remained in Phoenix where I had lived previously. On graduation night, my father hugged me and asked about my future plans. “Dad, I want to be the next Bill Heywood”. Living in Phoenix, my father knew the significance and the lofty goal. “Son, do you plan on attending college?” “Dad, I want to be the next Bill Heywood.” “Son, do you want your radio career to be in Phoenix?” “Yes Dad, I want to be the next Bill Heywood.” “Son, do you feel that you have that level of talent? And what about his great voice?” “No Dad, I don’t have either, but I want to be the next Bill Heywood.” Every kid needs a dream. Lucky kids can identify that dream at a young age and maybe even put a face, a name and a voice to that dream. Mine was Bill Heywood. Upon getting my break at low rated KUPD in 1981, my dream was diluted somewhat when I found myself working out of a beat up, dusty, double-wide trailer in the middle of a dirt lot in Guadalupe. In my first interview, I told a reporter that my goal was to be the next “Bill Heywood”. He laughed and chided, “Well then, good luck with that goal on KUPD. Your station has no money, the worst studios in the market, and quite candidly, no listeners!” The reporter was right, but his doubt just encouraged me more. His paper also named me as one of radio’s up and comers in Phoenix, although my show at the time was on the graveyard shift, from Midnight to 6AM. During the wee hours of the morning, my request line would seldom ring. Most of the time, I felt all alone in that dark little trailer studio, like I was doing the show for only my own entertainment. One morning, I looked down. Line #1 on a bank of 6 was blinking. I was excited, “Yes, I actually have a listener!” “KUPD. This is Dave.” “Dave, this is Bill Heywood”. Silence…….. Pure, awkward silence. Was somebody playing a prank on me? This can’t be true. I had never met my idol nor had I ever spoken to the legendary Bill Heywood. It was around 4 in the morning. “I am on my way to KOY” I was so nervous, words failed me. All I could nervously offer with my voice shaking was, “Yes Sir.” “Dave, I heard about you and decided to listen on my way in.” Again, all I could muster up was, “Yes Sir”. “You got it Kid. You got what it takes. Hang in there.” Within 6 months I was given the morning show and the rest is history. Shortly thereafter, my morning show was rated #1 in the city and KUPD was named “America’s Rock Station of the Year”. My first congratulations note came in the form of a hand-written card, “Like I said, you got it Kid.” – Bill Heywood. A few months later, Bill asked me to host an event with him. I still had never met the legend. He was incredibly generous and warm. He greeted me with a warm handshake and a big hug. His wife Susan did the same. I took photos and proudly showed my father. 30 years later, in my autobiography, “Dave Pratt, Behind the Mic, 30 Years in Radio”, I listed Bill Heywood as the top Valley Radio show of all time. Paula and I invited Bill and Susan to my induction into the Arizona Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He returned my invite with a hand written note. “You got it Kid” – Bill Heywood. Hearts, Prayers, Headphones and Tears. I will miss my friend. ~ Dave”
Thank you Jeannie.