Even though I don’t listen the radio very much anymore, if ever, in Oklahoma City, KRXO often got me through my teen years by playing the only music I could ever truly identify with – classic rock. That station had a somewhat colorful cast of on-air characters, but the disc jockey that I often listened to on my cheap Koss headphones was Dave Kelso.
I was floored to learned that he died yesterday.
A name from my past, to be fair, I barely knew he was still a radio personality and, to my shock, I had no idea that he had been struggling with an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. When I learned he passed yesterday, a few good memories came rushing back.
Kelso didn’t have any gimmicks, especially at a time when they were on every station. It’s probably one of the reasons he was so listenable, actually talking about the music with a true fandom that very few personalities ever seem to have. He didn’t come off like other DJs, probably because he seemed to actually love what he was doing.
That’s something that can come over the airwaves even more than the music does.
The first time I ever won concert tickets was while listening to his show in the early 90s. I had to be a certain numbered caller to win two tickets to see the Beatles tribute band 1964 at the Civic Center—for me, it might have well of been the actual Beatles. After a few redials like you used to do, I had those tickets in my pocket. Pretty good for a first concert, I’d say.
But I wasn’t able to say thank you until a year or so later when I won a Jethro Tull cassette tape from his show. It was sometime during the summer and my parents took me to KRXO to pick it up. As I was coming in, he was coming out. We stopped and talked for a few minutes, with me hanging off his every word like the classic rock fanboy I obviously was.
The tape was alright, but I’ll never forget that Kelso was funny, cordial and absolutely normal, something that you usually don’t see in the forced humor of too many disc jockeys, then and now.
Over the years I lost touch with not only him but the radio as well. KRXO moved from 107.7 to 104.5 on the dial, something I didn’t learn until a few years ago when I punched up the dial and got nothing but boring sports talk.
A few years ago, however, I had just gotten out of the hospital and, while messing around with my mom’s truck radio, and I heard him broadcasting on KOMA. I sat back, internally happy that, in the dying beast that is Oklahoma City radio, he was still alive and kicking and, even better, still seemed to enjoy what he was doing.
Learning about his recent death, I was taken a bit aback, not knowing about his recent health troubles. And while I am heartbroken that some kid out there won’t get it to know him or his show as I did, I feel that the best I can do to preserve his memory is to pass that same knowledge on, just like he did without his even knowing to me. Our thoughts and condolences go to all his friends, family and colleagues.