David Fowler, Radio Talk Show Host: Gone But Not Forgotten (and his Chili Recipe)

David Fowler was a talk show host and radio personality on KPRC 950-AM when I came to Houston in 1977. He was possibly my favorite radio talk show host ever. He was smart, funny, plain-spoken, and had a great laugh.

The story I’ve heard is that KPRC radio fired him mainly to cut salary costs (he was highly paid).

I still think of him every time I get into my car and turn on the radio, and I miss him.

I hope that I do a radio show that’s at least half as fun to listen to as his was.

Fowler, who had been married five times, was retired at the time of his death in 2004. He passed away of natural causes in Cadiz, Kentucky at the age of 67.

RIP, David.

This non-Chili Chili Recipe is famous among a certain generation of radio listeners. The only changes I’ve made to the original transcription is numbering and paragraphing to make it easier to follow. For that, I apologize. – Mike H


Saturday, December 29, 2007

David Fowler’s Chili Recipe WPLP (or KPRC) (below jump)

David Fowler was a talk show host at WPLP in Pinellas Park Florida back in the 1980’s. One day, he had a discussion about home made chili and mentioned that he had won awards with his recipe. Of course all of his loyal listeners asked for it including yours truly. When I received it, I placed it in my recipe file and promptly forgot all about it. Recently, I decided to dump much of the things I had collected but never used and came across his recipe.

As luck would have it, Joey Sweat, our youth pastor has organized a chili cook off for 1/6/08 and so I thought hmmm let’s give it a try. Barb being Barb said “no way are you bringing chili you haven’t tried”. So today I decide to give er a rip and followed the directions almost exactly. (sorry David) I say almost because I have only light beer and the recipe calls for a can of Budweiser. Oh well. The recipe also says to pull it off the stove and let it sit overnight so i did but prior to putting it into the refrigerator, I had to sample it. Wow! It is fabulous. I can’t wait until 1/6!

On a sad note, I Googled David Fowler and learned that he had died back in 2004!

Here is the recipe as I received it back in the mid 80’s:

David Fowler’s Nine times First place Trophy award winning Chili recipe.

This is not chili, and I don’t know how to write a recipe using the terms and such that one finds in the real thing. Read on. Change nothing. You’ll note that quantities are vague. Use common sense and taste.

Stuff in this Mess:

  1. 1 or 2 pounds ground beef, the best
  2. 1 standard can tomato paste and sauce and whole peeled tomatoes
  3. 1 large green pepper
  4. 1 large white onion
  5. 2 ribs celery
  6. 2 to 10 Jalapeno peppers, the canned in oil kind
  7. ½ a raw potato
  8. 1 can Bud beer
  9. 1 shot or two of olive oil – do not use cooking oil (I use Contadina brand)
  10. 1 standard envelope chili mix, such as McCormick’s or whatever, but not some weird, esoteric brand…just the plain stuff and
  11. a half envelope of taco mix
  12. Some Oregano and Thyme and crushed red pepper and
  13. black pepper and
  14. a bay leaf or two and
  15. some grated parmesan cheese, such as in the green cardboard tube, and
  16. salt and,
  17. as to the spices, I use around a ½ a teaspoon or more –

it’s up to you as are all the quantities and it’s also your problem or pleasure, don’t blame me.

Method of Preparation:

New simplified directions!!!

1. Brown the beef a little bit, not a lot…leave some pink.

2. Dump everything into a pot and add water sufficient to keep it from burning while you simmer it for an hour or so.

3. Now, I must add, for the sake of decency that prior to the dumping you must have finely chopped, sliced and diced the vegetables.
Got that?
Do it.

4. Dump together as noted and so forth, and by now it’s simmering nicely and you’re keeping an eye on it and adding a bit of water here and there and the lid’s on the pot, slightly askew, a sprinkling of parmesan and always stirring and sampling and simmering and, three hours having passed, you let it cool and poke it into the fridge and wait until the next day and that’s that. It ain’t chili – its better!

You want beans? Fine. You also tell unfunny jokes, force your dog to wear rubber booties on rainy days, and are basically miserable. However, if you must….please use drained and rinsed kidney beans and their name is sufficiently disgusting to me or, even better, drained and rinsed black eyed peas, though I recommend neither and how do you spell recommmmmmend anyway?

I figure it may take a lifetime for you to get this right, so forget it. You go on and read that junk in the papers on Thursdays and clip coupons and buy cookbooks.

I don’t care.

You really must mess with this thing a few times to get it to your taste and if you’re the type who follows recipes exactly, I’m already thanking you for not inviting me to your table even though I said change nothing in this recipe. If that intimidated you, don’t cook this chili that isn’t chili.

Typing and mailing this thing’s been tough on me.
Be kind when you call.
Think kindly when listening.
Thank you,
DF (David signed this with his initials)

I have a scan of the original recipe if anyone wants it.

Anonymous said…
I recall hearing David Fowler on the radio in Houston. I heard him give the recipe on the air but it was too quick to copy. He gave it again a day or two later and I copied it down. It is really good. I also recall him warning not to give any to your dog especially if you have nice carpet.
MikeNTxs said…
I would dearly love to have that original photocopy of this recipe. I used to have one among my recipes, which I rather cherished, but it was lost in a recent house fire.I remember David Fowler in Houston. For years I considered him one of the finest talk radio show hosts I’d ever heard. He was smart enough to deal with his odder callers, he was rarely rude (though sometimes brusque), and had a number of charming idiosyncrasies that kept the show interesting and unpredictable.
He had something of a feud with Alvin van Black, it seemed, and I don’t believe it was for show.Alvin was the nastier of the two (imho) and I think he often got the better of David in their feud. Over a period of several years, I and I think his other listeners heard something change in David. It seemed he got testier with his callers. He seemed to be having less fun doing his job. Basically, he was getting meaner, and I felt he was less happy doing the show than he used to be. Then one day he left, suddenly. Quit, I believe.He’s been missed all these years by those of us who remembered and enjoyed him. If he’s passed, as you say, that’s not a ton of epitaph, but it’s better than most of us will do, I‘ll bet.
Mike Honig
Houston, TX
Anonymous said…
I, too, loved listening to David (and Alvin). But his real feud was with Lynn Ashby, he began denigrating him frequently and was very nasty about it. It was very uncharacteristic of David. I think the start of it was Ashby publishing a derogatory column about egotistical radio talk show hosts, and David responded on-air and never let it go.
He was finally told by Harry Schultz that no further Ashby comments were allowed per senior management (the same company owned KPRC, where Fowler worked, and The Post, where Ashby worked) but David couldn’t help himself. He became irate over the whole thing, made some more Ashby remarks, and was summarily fired after his show one morning. Harry Schultz told David he was very disappointed in his performance and behavior. My understanding is that David took it very hard.And yes, I have heard from many credible chili-loving-expert sources that this is the best chili that they have ever had. Jim Cameron
Anonymous said…
I was just amazed and delighted to find David Fowler’s “Chili” recipe online ! The copy I had was saved from the Houston Chronicle and was about as worn and yellow as it could be and still be intact. I have made it every year since it was first published when it gets cold here in Houston. I made it last week and then couldn’t find it today, so I made it from memory. But, I just had the feelings that I had left out some things. So, I went online and to my amazement, I found the recipe. And, yes, I had left out some of the seasonings. Yet, it was still very good.Mr. Fowler was a favorite of ours and we do miss him.Thank you, thank you, thank you! And, I, too , would like a copy of his original. Thank you again and have a wonderful, blessed New Year!
THIS is the chili recipe that my family has cooked and eaten for as long as I can remember. I dont’ know if my mother saw it in the paper or what, but this is our chili….maybe a few more potatoes…
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About Thinkwing Radio

Mike Honig is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He moved to Houston in September of 1977 and has been there ever since. Mike's interests are politics, history, science, science fiction (and reading generally), technology, and almost anything else. Mike has knowledge and experience in many diverse fields, sometimes from having worked in them, and sometimes from extensive reading or discussion about them. Mike's general knowledge makes him a favorite partner in Trivial Pursuit. He likes to say that about most things, he knows enough to be dangerous. Humility is a work-in-progress.

1 thought on “David Fowler, Radio Talk Show Host: Gone But Not Forgotten (and his Chili Recipe)

  1. Pingback: David Fowler, Radio Talk Show Host: Gone But Not Forgotten, Part 2 | ThinkWing Radio with Mike Honig

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