Good friends like Ken Staley of KCFO should be treasured

About 15 years ago, right after we started the Tulsa Beacon, Ken Staley came to my office for a visit. Ken said he was the station manager at KCFO, AM970 (Christian talk). He said he had heard about this new “Christian” newspaper and he wanted to meet me.

I am really glad he did.

We struck up a friendship. He placed ads in the Tulsa Beacon for KCFO and I placed ads on KCFO for the Beacon. And those have been running ever since.

Ken mentioned me to Todd Huston, a former Tulsa city councilor, who hosted a live show on KCFO every Monday and Tuesday afternoon. Todd called me and asked me to come on the show.

I was excited and horrified.

When we started the paper, I had been interviewed by Michael DelGiorno (before he was on KFAQ but after he was at KRMG) and by John Erling, the long-time morning show host on KRMG.

But I was really nervous when I went on Todd’s show. I guess the interview went well because he asked me back. In fact, he kept asking me back until he asked me to co-host the show, which I did.

Not too long after that, Todd left the city council and asked me if I would like to take over the show. I said I would.

Back then, KCFO was on top of a hill in West Tulsa. There was only one road to the top and it was so steep that sometimes in the winter it was inaccessible.

Now, my show, Tulsa Beacon Weekend, is taped on Wednesday mornings and played at noon on Saturday.

I formed a friendship with Ken and he and I started going to breakfast together every Friday morning with Tom McCloud, published and editor of Community Spirit magazine.

We have continued for all these years.

This was both odd and wonderful.

You see, the Tulsa Beacon, Community Spirit and KCFO should be competing for the same advertisers – the conservative, Christian market. But we don’t compete. We help each other.

That’s part of the wonderful part. These two men (and later Rick Collier) are deeply spiritual, devoted Christians. They care about me and my friendship more than their personal benefit.

That, my friends, is rare these days.

Each week, we talk about the challenges of our respective companies. We discuss everything from trends in advertising to Christian music to Republican politics.

We have shared medical problems, financial challenges and family situations. Tom lost 100 pounds, spent a week as a homeless man (for a story) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Ken visited his daughter and son-in-law, missionaries in a remote town in Mexico.

Ken started as a morning deejay, spinning records. He has a terrific voice and for years he did voiceovers for Victory Christian Center.

Ken has been a big supporter of many Christian ministries, including Mend Resource Center. He used to emcee their annual banquet.

I learned a lot from Ken about the radio. I am a newspaper guy. He gently schooled me in the art of hosting a show. We have never said a cross word to each other because he is such a gentleman and a good manager.

He has managed KCFO for more than 25 years with an owner in Delaware who let Ken treat the station as if he owned it.

Now things have changed.

KCFO has been sold to Stephens Media (KXOJ and a host of other stations). The studio has been moved from 5800 E. Skelly drive to the City Plex Tower on 81st Street at Lewis Avenue.

The former  owner, a wonderful Christian man, is in ill health and his family decided to sell.

And after helping with the transition, Ken has left KCFO.

His mother-in-law in Ohio is getting up in years and Ken and his wife Patty are selling their home and moving back to Ohio.

I have continued my show at KXOJ (a Christian music station) and if you are a listener, you probably haven’t noticed any difference.

Ken over the years lamented the fact that KCFO didn’t have the strongest signal in the market and that it couldn’t get the best programming.

But Ken Staley has helped spread the Gospel in amazing ways. This side of Heaven, we will never know the extent of the good work he has done to tell people about Jesus Christ and the Bible.

I am going to miss him – especially at breakfast on Friday mornings. You don’t make friends like this very often. Tom feels the same way.

God has a purpose and plan for each of us. God has enriched my life and the lives of so many listeners through the ministry of Ken Staley.

God bless him in this new chapter of his life and, Lord willing, please bring him back to Tulsa someday.