A very recognizable voice ends a 40-year-plus career in broadcast media when Steve Bowers, the host of ‘Blue Suede Forever,’ which airs on NEWS/TALK 101.5 FM, retires from Grace Media Group, Thursday.
Bowers, who visited with Grace Media Group for a Question & Answer session, will sit behind the microphone one final time from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Thursday.
Question: First, would you give us a little background information – where are you originally from, family and education?
Answer: i was born in Athens, Alabama in 1949, and graduated from Austin High School in Decatur, Alabama in 1968.
Between birth and the sixth grade the Bowers lived in Nashville, Louisville, Toledo, Flint, Michigan and Burbank, California and moved back to Alabama between each of those stops.
We finally settled in Decatur. I moved to West Tennessee in 1968 to attend college at Freed-Hardeman and, other than a few months in Searcy, Arkansas, to finish a Bachelor of Arts at Harding, West Tennessee has been home.
Question: How did you become interested in broadcast media, and when and where did you get your start?
Answer: My work in radio started while in high school. I got a Third Class License and
worked part-time at WHOS-AM and WDRM-FM in Decatur, Alabama.
I did not plan a broadcast career but that License opened a door in 1976 when Bill and Nancy Morrow hired me at WBOL-AM/WVST-FM in Bolivar.
My career direction took another step when Ben Enochs hired me to do local news at WDXL-AM/WZLT-FM in Lexington.
I reached Jackson with Jack Walker and the news department at WYNU-FM/92.3 in 1983.
The next key step was with Carlton Veirs and Lyle Reid at News/Talk 101.5-FM/WNWS-FM in 1994.
Question: Since you began your career in radio, you have undoubtedly seen a number of changes – especially the introduction of technology. What would you say is or are the biggest change(s) you have seen?
Answer: A key change in radio has been technical. In 1968, it was records, turntables and reel-to-reel tape.
Now it’s digital computers and satellite feeds. Also eliminated in those decades local news staffs and news reporters. The large companies that own media properties – radio, TV and print – are not broadcast or media companies, they are companies that own media properties.
A prime example of the results is the decline of the Jackson Sun.
Question: There are those who do not know you are employed at Jackson Energy Authority. How long have you been with JEA, and would you describe your position.
Answer: My career at JEA stated in 2004 when JEA moved into Broadband – cable/Internet/telephone.
While Gig Internet drives Broadband sales today, in 2004 it was cable. JEA developed EPlusTV6 and my job was to host, produce programming for that channel and to work media relations for JEA.
That is still my work today.
Question: While you will maintain your employment at Jackson Energy Authority, when did you decide it was time to retire from radio, and what plans are in your future?
Answer: I get up at 3 a.m., to begin show preparation, and from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., I go on the air.
On a personal note, I want to thank Jerry Hunt (103.1 FM) and also the Grace Media Group for their part in developing ‘Blue Suede Forever,’ but I knew a few months ago that it was time to shorten my day.
While retiring from producing and hosting a daily show, I plan to explore other opportunities for continuing work in broadcast and podcast.
I love this business. I have been places I would have never been – Saudi Arabia, to covering Presidential and Gubernatorial inaugurations – and talked with thousands of people with whom I would never would have had a conversation – listeners and guests – had it not been for radio.
I also want to thank all the people with whom I have worked through these decades, people such as Carl Swafford – Adamsville and Milan radio, Ellen Ratner and Talk Media News and all of the staff at News/Talk 101.5 FM – from the Wireless Group to Grace Media.
I also want to thank Pam (wife) and Clayton Bowers (son). It has been a most unique ride and I’m glad to have been on board.
Radio has enhanced my life, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve Jackson and West Tennessee. I will miss it.
(PHOTO: Steve Bowers)
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