Entertainment & Living

ICYMI: KSCS pays tribute to Terry Dorsey

Dallas country music radio legend Terry Dorsey, in front of the microphone with his on-air 'gang' before retirement from KSCS in December. Dorsey had worked with the station for 26 years, and had been on DFW radio since the early ’80s.
Dallas country music radio legend Terry Dorsey, in front of the microphone with his on-air 'gang' before retirement from KSCS in December. Dorsey had worked with the station for 26 years, and had been on DFW radio since the early ’80s. Star-Telegram

The KSCS/96.3 FM morning show that still bears Terry Dorsey’s name paid tribute Monday morning to the longtime DFW radio personality, who died suddenly Saturday at age 66.

Country musicians including Pat Green, Brad Paisley and Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts called into the Hawkeye and Dorsey show to share memories, and local-media personalities such as WFAA/Channel 8’s Ron Corning and Alexa Conomos dropped in, as did former members of “The Dorsey Gang” such as Rebecca Carrell (known on-air as Rebecca).

But many of the memories belong to Mark “Hawkeye” Louis, who worked side by side with Dorsey for 26 years, till Dorsey’s retirement in December, and to the show’s producer of four years, “Trapper” John Morris.

“We kept his name on the show,” Louis said at the beginning of the show. “We weren’t ready to put it to rest yet.”

“There’ll always be a little Terry Dorsey in here,” Morris added.

Louis said that he received a call Saturday night from Dorsey’s stepdaughter giving him the news, but that he and the station were asked not to announce anything till Sunday morning because the family wanted to make sure all of Dorsey’s relatives were notified. The station posted Louis’ announcement of Dorsey’s death shortly before noon Sunday.

“He was at home,” Louis said. “His wife had just talked to him a few minutes before, and she was cooking him dinner. She walked back into the kitchen, and her daughter came out to say something to Terry, and he had passed away. It had been like 10 minutes. It was that fast. It was sudden and it was peaceful.”

The show was designed as a celebration of Dorsey’s life, and while callers and visitors recalled Dorsey’s guy-next-door humility and his work ethic, there were also many recollections of his humor.

Former KSCS/96.3 personality Bill Kinder recalled fishing trips he used to take to Arkansas with Dorsey, Louis and others — and the memorable conclusion Dorsey had for those trips.

“We would come up there and just catch fish all weekend, and have a great trip,” Kinder said. “And then the last thing that Terry and I would do before we left the White River was go out on the back porch of the cabin overlooking the pristine, beautiful White River — and we’d do the underwear dance. You had to take your pants off and dance in your underwear. Out on the back deck”

Fort Worth-based country musician Pat Green said that after hearing about Dorsey’s death, he tried for an hour and a half to write a letter showing how much he loved the DJ, and he couldn’t get it right. Dorsey was a supporter of Green’s from the beginning of his career.

“One time, me and my wife were sitting in a McDonald’s drive-through line in Dallas,” Green said. “I flipped from one station playing [Green’s song] Carry On, and I flip over and it’s Terry Dorsey’s voice” — and here Green slipped into a pretty spot-on Dorsey impersonation: “ ‘Yeah, there’s this guy, Pat Green, and he’s got this song, it’s called Carry On, and I want you to listen to it.’ ... Just listening to Terry say it: ‘Pat Green.’ Just hearing his voice say my name made me so happy through the years.”

WFAA/Channel 8 anchor Cynthia Izaguirre, who spent her first six years at WFAA on the morning shift and often visited Dorsey’s show before moving to 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts in spring 2014, said that Dorsey knew how to make his show sound better.

“When you make a friend in this business, that friendship runs deep, and he was a friend,” Izaguirre said. “He understood that when you step aside, and you let your colleagues shine, that is the betterment of the team, and he did that magically.”

Izaguirre, who grew up in Dallas, had worked in Albuquerque for eight years, said that she found the transition unexpectedly rough, and Louis said that Dorsey supported her through that.

“It was the hardest transition of my life because a lot of people were upset at my last name,” Izaguirre, whose last name is properly pronounced with a distinct rolled ‘r’ said with a laugh. “I got so many people reaching out to me and management: ‘Tell her to say her name English!’ ”

She said that those complaints had gone away, and Louis added that Dorsey had backed her from the beginning. “Terry said, ‘You know what? That’s her name, and if that’s the way she says it, we should all learn how to say it. Even though I can’t.’ ”

Monty Montgomery, who went by Brother Van during his 17 years on the “The Dorsey Gang” days, recalled what he said to his wife after his first day on Dorsey’s show.

“I said, ‘Honey, they make me sound so much better and talented than I really am,’ ” Montgomery said. “I think that’s true of Terry with just about everybody. He always made everyone around him better. He didn’t care who got the laugh.”

Louis said that worked wherever Dorsey went. He recalled an incident shortly after he and Dorsey teamed up, when Dorsey lost a bet with a Washington, D.C., radio show and had to travel to D.C. to host that show.

“Terry was on the air working with people he’d never worked with before and it sounded so amazing,” Louis said. “It was like he’d been working with these people for years. That’s when I understood that I wasn’t good, Terry was incredible, and it was Terry that made me good.”

WFAA News 8 Daybreak co-anchors Ron Corning and Alexa Conomos, frequent visitors to Dorsey’s show (both the KSCS studios and the Daybreak studios are in Victory Park in Dallas), also dropped in. Corning, who came to DFW in 2011, said he immediately knew that Dorsey was a big deal.

“I said this when I came to town, and you’re switching through the radio dial trying to figure out which morning show [to listen to],” Corning said. “I heard his voice, and I heard you all here and the chemistry, and I said, ‘There’s a guy who has to be the legend in town.’ ”

Conomos, who came to the KSCS on the studio on Dorsey’s last day, said: “He had a special spirit. He made you feel like you were the only person in the room.”

Rascal Flatts’ Rooney was the show’s last caller on Monday. “He was one of the early-on supporters of what Flatts was doing,” Rooney said. “His energy, his passion was so catching. That’s something we’ll never forget. We’re going to miss that guy.”

Celebrities such as Troy Aikman and country singer Brad Paisley also sent condolences to the show. “Terry Dorsey was an icon … one of the true heavyweights of his industry … just an awesome guy! #ripterrydorsey,” Aikman said on Twitter. Country singer Clint Black tweeted Sunday: “A sad farewell to one of the great ones. I had many a good laugh with Terry Dorsey. Rest in peace.”

Louis closed the show with Dorsey’s final words from his retirement show in December, in which Dorsey said an emotional, choked-up goodbye to Louis, Morris and all the people he’d worked with.

“I don’t want to go on blubberin’ and blubberin’,” Dorsey said, “But it’s been great.”

KSCS has sent us the whole show, which we’ve assembled into a Soundcloud playlist. Although each segment is from an hour or more of the show, songs and commercials have been removed, so that each segment is in the range of a half-hour or less. Listen below.

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