Ben Laurie

July 27, 1938 - April 15, 2011

Most of us in broadcasting have a unique story about how we got started.  I, too, have such a story, but that's not what I wish to tell here.  This story is a...prequel.

As a fourth grader I entered my animals in the local 4-H Fair and competition.  I was extremely pleased by the results because that meant my animals qualified for entrance into the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo.  I was excited about not only going to the show, but also missing school for a few days in order to attend the show.

In the beginning, in addition to showing my animals, the Livestock Show and Rodeo offered me way more than enough to see and do around the show grounds to keep me busy.  However, when the last day for me to attend arrived, it seemed I had experienced everything available to a 9 year old at least 10 times.

That’s when I finally noticed in front of the show entrance a mobile-home trailer with KONO in big letters on the sides.  Upon closer examination, I found the trailer contained a complete, glass-enclosed radio studio that allowed you not only to watch but also to hear the DJ inside, broadcasting live!

Ben Laurie (2004 Texas Radio Hall of Fame Inductee) was on the air.  I just stood and watched and listened.  Having never seen anything like it before,  I became completely engrossed with everything that happened behind that glass.  Listening to Ben, I learned that the trailer was called the “Alamobile.”  Years later I learned that the Alamobile was better equipped than most radio stations’ main-studio facilities, thanks to Bill Kiley (2010 Texas Radio Hall of Fame Inductee).

I don’t know how long I stood there, but during a news break, Ben opened the sliding glass door in front of me.

“Would you like some tickets to the show?”

Completely shocked that Ben had noticed me watching, I blurted out in rapid fire...“No, thanks.  I don’t need the tickets.  I have animals entered in the show.  I have an exhibitor’s pass.”

Ben immediately put me at ease.  We talked for a few minutes about how my animals had done in the show.  The newscast was ending.  Then Ben asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Is it OK for me to just watch and listen to you for a while?”

Ben laughed.  “Watch and listen as long as you want.”

I stayed and watched and listened until my brother found me and told me I had to help pack up things so we could drive back home.

I never dreamed that one day I would be part of the KONO air staff and work in the "Alamobile," but...that’s another story.

Over the years, I always wanted to thank Ben for his kindness to a kid so long ago.  I am very thankful I finally got that opportunity.

Ben claims he doesn’t remember the incident, but I sure do.

Paul Kirby

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Copyright 2011 by Paul Kirby and – All Rights Reserved.

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