Death of a Legend Bill Bradford

bill bradfordBill Bradford

picture courtesy of Bobby McDonald
Front Porch News


Bill Bradford.  If you lived within the listening area of KSST in Sulphur Springs, you have undoubtedly heard his distinctive voice. Bill Bradford was the Walter Cronkite of Sulphur Springs and the surrounding communities.  When I read of his death last night, my mind began a journey back to my childhood.  In the days before cable television, internet, smartphones, etc., you tuned the radio station to listen to local news, weather and sports.  Bill Bradford joined us at our breakfast and lunch table every day.  By that I mean we listened to the news from KSST during our meals.  We got the low-down on the upcoming weather.  Dad wouldn’t cut hay if Bill said there was a chance of rain.  My brother and I listened intently because we knew if Bill Bradford said there was a chance of rain that meant we wouldn’t have to go to the hay field that day.

My memories of Bill Bradford are most vivid during times of severe weather or other breaking news events.  There is no way of knowing the additional number of hours he spent at the radio station to keep us informed on the dangers and damage inflicted.  When he would break in on regular programming to give the latest updates on whatever crisis was going on, you could tell by the sound of his voice that it was critical.  He had a gift (as the E. F. Hutton commercial would say)….When he spoke, people listened.

Mr. Bradford became more than just the owner and announcer of a radio station.  He became a family member to all who listened to him.  He was like a dad, an uncle, and a brother to his listeners.  We trusted him.

Bill Bradford was born in November of 1920 in Marietta, Oklahoma.  He served in the Army Air Corps as a pilot and communications officer.  In 1948, he began his career at KSST serving as an engineer.  He later would be the owner and general manager.  Kerry Craig wrote a very good article about Mr. Bradford in 2005 just prior to Mr. Bradford’s induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.  Click Here to read his article.

Bill was  instrumental in creating the Emergency Broadcast System that we know today.  Even the phrase, “This is a test, this is only a test,” is credited to Bill Bradford.

Mr. Bradford, thank you for you years of service to the communities in and around Hopkins County.  We depended on you to give us the straight story.  You never let us down.

Time to sign off now.

Feel free to add your memories of Bill Bradford in the comment area.

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