The Texas radio industry confirms what Sulphur Springs has long known: Bill Bradford belongs in the Hall of Fame
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Bill Bradford was recognized at the annual awards dinner of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Council of Advisors Saturday when he was installed in that organization’s Hall of Honor.

Nov. 6, 2005 -- With his gravelly voice as a trademark, Bill Bradford is more than a household name in Sulphur Springs. Since coming to KSST in 1948, he has chronicled the life and lives of the community.

But Bradford's effect and impact on the broadcasting industry has spread well beyond the boundaries of Hopkins County and the state.

In recognition of his more than half a century as an announcer, newscaster, weatherman, sportscaster and radio station owner, Bill Bradford will be recognized and honored tonight at the annual awards dinner of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Council of Advisors as he is installed in that organization's Hall of Honor.

The Hall of Honor recognizes those who have made significant and notable contributions to radio, something the veteran broadcaster says is humbling.

"I think maybe the highlights don't count toward this very significant honor," Bradford said Friday. "I am most proud of this and almost humbled by it."

Bradford said many of the highlights of his broadcasting career have been the interviews.

"One of the things I remember best, I got an invitation as a newsman the night before the 22nd day of November that the President was going to be at the hall in Dallas, and I was invited to cover it," he said. "There were press phones, and it felt very strange to call Dick Caldwell, who was doing the trading post on KSST that noon-time and say something was happening, and he read to me that the President had been shot."

The opportunity to visit one-on-one with President George W. Bush, Bradford said, gave him much more insight into the man and his presidency.

"I think I look back at those things more than anything else," he said. "You meet some fascinating people in this business, and because of the nature of being a reporter, you can ask questions that regular people would avoid and get some interesting information."

Bill Bradford's induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame adds his name to a long and distinguished list of broadcast professionals that includes newscasters Bob Schieffer, Porter Randall, Walter Cronkite and Joe Holstead. 

Other notable names on that list include on-air personalities such as Ron Chapman, Bill Mack, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Rabbit, Ken "Hubcap" Carter and the legendary Wolfman Jack. There are also sportscasters Brad Sham, Kern Tips, Bill Mercer and Frank Glieber. The list of names, literally, is a roster of who's who in radio broadcasting in Texas.

One name stands out with Bradford, that of Harold Taft, recognized by peers and co-workers as the "world's greatest weatherman."

"You were asking how I felt about this honor -- it's incredible," he said. "Some of the names are legendary people, pioneers, people who put this industry together, and it immediately came together after World War II."

The second World War meant a brief interruption to Bradford's early days as a broadcaster.

Born Nov. 5, 1920, in Marietta, Okla., he was an announcer or radio engineer in Cheyenne, Wyo., Denver, Colo., and Huntsville and Corsicana before the war, when he served as a military aviator, a multi-engine airplane pilot and communications officer for the Air Corps. He also flew as a radio operator for Panagra Airline in South America.

In 1948, Bill returned to the world of radio broadcasting, signing on as engineer at KSST in Sulphur Springs. He now is owner and general manager of the radio station.

At KSST, Bradford was an innovator and pioneer. Using a converted surplus World War II aircraft radar set, he was one of the first broadcasters to use the technology to bring listeners in-depth, accurate information on severe weather threatening Hopkins County.

In the days of the Cold War, Bradford and Pete Teddlie of WRR radio in New York organized the original CONELRAD Emergency Broadcasting Network. Bradford continued as state chairman as the emergency notification system became the Emergency Broadcast System.

In 1995, he was the subject of a Texas Senate/House Concurrent Resolution, citing, among other things, his CONELRAD and Emergency Broadcasting activities.

While serving as chairman of the Associated Press Broadcasters Association, he negotiated an agreement with the non-profit Texas Election Bureau to carry Texas election returns over the teletype news service for the first time.

Bradford has received two U.S. Air Force commendations for building a broadcast station for Borinquen Air Force Base in Puerto Rico from spare parts. In 1992, he was named Texas Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year.

Additionally, he has received two awards from the Texas Association of Broadcasters for serving as Texas Emergency Broadcast System Chairman, along with commendations from the Federal Communications Commission, National Weather Service and the Defense Preparedness Agency for reorganizing the Emergency Broadcast System in Texas.

Bradford is also credited with the phrase that continues to be used in the Emergency Broadcasting System: "This is a test, this is only a test."

This time, however, will not be a test when the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Council of Advisors names Bill Bradford to its Hall of Honor.

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