On June 19, 2014, I posted this blog piece on a radio personality I used to greatly enjoy and admire: David Fowler, Radio Talk Show Host: Gone But Not Forgotten (and his Chili Recipe).
In January of 2015, I got a cool and exciting response out of nowhere from an old friend of Dave’s who also used to DJ at KLOL ‘back in the day’. (I hate that expression, BTW.) We then had a brief email exchange.
With Jeff Jensen’s kind permission, and in the interests of expanding the public profile of a late, great radio guy, I’m reproducing those emails below. ~ Mike
PS: The photo at left is the only photo online of Dave that I can find, presumably at WPLP. (Note the reindeer hat.) And that’s pretty much ALL the photos there are that I can find, which is really sad.
If anyone has any photos of/with David Fowler that you would like to contribute, I’d love to have them and, with your permission, post them. Any explanatory captions you want to add (dates, places, circumstances, names of folks in the photo) would be wonderful!
If I get enough material, I’ll create a separate page in memory of David Fowler. ~ Mike
Jeff wrote:From: Jensen, Jeff <JJensen@mytreasureisland.org>
Sent: Fri 1/16/2015 1:46 PM
Subj.: David Fowler
Came across your name while doing some lazy web surfing for David Fowler.
I used to hear David on KPRC, too, as well as quite a bit on WPLP here in Florida. I did nights at KLOL in the early 80’s and had a morning show in Tampa Bay in 85 and 86. When I heard Fowler here in this market, and remembering him from Houston, decided to give him a call. Nick, my radio partner, and I met David at B.T Bones Steakhouse in St. Pete. We talked radio, drank a lot of beer, and then David was off. Said it was “nice meeting us and stay in touch.” So we did, and before we knew it, Nick and I were in David’s circle, hanging at his “humble beach hut on Sunset Beach” for hours on end. There was the odd bit of alcohol involved, as I recall, and David held us spellbound with stories and more stories. The “banana suit” story was one he liked to tell. He would often disappear into the bathroom around the corner from his kitchen (where he held court and drank with us, or should I say, we tried to keep up with David’s drinking) and come back into the room wearing a fake moustache or eyeliner, and hold forth conversations as a completely different character. He once held an hour long conversation between three people, with David doing the voices of all three people.
A few years later, when we’d moved our show to Atlanta, we flew David and his wife Rae up for his birthday. He fell off a moving sidewalk at the airport and cracked a rib, and he and Rae went home the next day. We kept in touch, Nick more so by this point, since a few years later I’d gone to Pirate Radio in LA. David was pretty much well on his way to drinking himself out of the business by then, and moved to Cadiz Kentucky, reading news on the local AM station, I had heard.
He did sober up though after my friend Nick paid him a visit in Cadiz and told David he would not be seeing him again because he thought David would be dead fairly soon from the booze. He did manage to write down a lot of his radio experiences and stories into an unpublished collection called “HOG: Confessions of a Radio Alcoholic” or something along those lines. I don’t know who has copies, though. His son died a while back in a bike accident and Rae died of cancer shortly after that. I don’t know if David has any other survivors.
Recall those Reader’s Digest articles “My Most Unforgettable Character” or something like that? Mine was David Fowler.
Public Information Officer
City of Treasure Island, Florida
I then responded:
From: Thinkwing Radio [mailto:ThinkwingRadio@msn.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2015 4:39 AM
To: Jensen, Jeff
Subject: RE: David Fowler
Thanks for getting in touch. I appreciate your taking the time to write me and tell me those great stories.
It’s funny how some people just stay on your mind forever. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dave, but I was a fan. In the Fowler v. Van Black feud, it was easy to pick a side. I really believe that to this day, there isn’t a time I turn on the radio in my car that I don’t think of David Fowler. He was a great and rare talent with a fabulous voice, and he was a terrific raconteur. Listening to him was just plain fun.
I found those web sites about Dave the same way you found mine: Just thinking about him and seeing what there was out on the web about him, especially how his life went after he left Houston. The amazing thing about the web is that you can search one time and find little or nothing, and search the same way weeks or months later and stuff has appeared as people continue to upload memories and records. When I found some of his old show recordings and listened, I was amazed that he sounded every bit as good as I remembered. How often does that happen?
If it’s okay with you, I’d like to post your recollections of Dave on my blog, cross-referenced to my earlier post. I could post it with or without your name, and with or without your email. I think it would be great to add a little bit more of Dave’s legacy out there for folks to find.
Thanks again for writing and sharing your memories with me, and … stay in touch. :-)
Jeff was then kind enough to respond thusly:
Hi, Mike …
You know what might be even weirder? I sometimes walk around doing the “David Fowler voice.” It’s more of a repetition of a catch phrase or expression that David would use. “You don’t believe THAT, do you?” “Would that I could …” “You mohair-headed, fast-talking …” Kind of like Hunter Thompson expressions. (And David was very much a Hunter Thompson stature character).
Sure, Mike you can post my recollections. E-mail address is OK – I work in local government, so everything is public record, anyway. I’m glad I came across your site, and even gladder it’s a site with a human attached that can reply intelligently. Brave.
BTW, if I recall correctly, KPFT was also located (and might still be) on Lovett Blvd in Montrose, just up the street from where I worked at KLOL. 510 Lovett was KLOL, next door was KILT (when they were still rock). I heard 510 is now a condo. I wonder what room is now the former studio, and if they ever found all those joints that fell behind the cart rack.
Public Information Officer
City of Treasure Island, Florida
Site links with and about Dave:
- David Fowler
- Cut 4: David Fowler: A STYLIZED newscast!
- March 1980 – Jim Guidry and Floyd Tillman are guests on the David Fowler Show on KPRC Radio. Listen
- WPLP Christmas Carol – 1985, narrated by David Fowler
- David Fowler’s Chili Recipe (Newspaper Clipping)
- What’s next?: David Fowler’s Chili Recipe WPLP (or KPRC)