Terry Dorsey, a fixture in DFW radio since 1981 and the longest-running current host on local FM radio, announced Tuesday morning on KSCS/96.3 FM’s Hawkeye and Dorsey show that he is retiring, effective Dec. 17.
“After 47 years in the broadcasting business, and 33 of those years here in Dallas-Fort Worth, and 26 of those years being right here at KSCS, I say with a lot of sadness and yet with a lot of joy that it’s time to step down,” Dorsey said, adding that he’ll be glad to sleep in and hand the reins to his co-host Mark “Hawkeye” Louis and producer “Trapper” John Morris.
The departure will break up a duo that has been together for more than 25 years, since 1988 when Dorsey, Mark “Hawkeye” Louis and others made up what was became known as The Dorsey Gang.
But that happened after then-KSCS program director Victor Sansone hired Dorsey away from rival KPLX/99.5 FM, where Dorsey had developed a strong following during eight years at the station. The move worked: From the late ’80s to the mid-’90s, Dorsey’s show was No. 1 in the market, and led KSCS to a long-running victory streak. (In a strange twist, KSCS and KPLX are now owned by the same company, Cumulus Media.)
Dorsey thanked his most loyal listeners, several former Dorsey Gang members, and especially Louis.
“I saw him mature from his Barney Fife mode,” Dorsey said, “To the mature morning-show host he is now. … I’ve spent more time with him that I have with my wife!”
Dorsey and Louis joked that they’d only had one fight in 26 years — over eggs at a diner. Louis said that that’s an illustration of Dorsey’s easygoing personality.
“I learned everything I know about radio from you,” Louis said to Dorsey. “I owe you my career and I owe you my life.”
Louis told DFW.com that the timing of the announcement — and the short notice before Dorsey’s leaving the station — took him and other station staff members by surprise. Louis says that he’s not sure yet what this means for the show, although for now he and Morris plan to continue doing what they’re doing.
“He kind of just sprung this on us real quickly, like on Friday,” Louis told DFW.com. “So nobody knew till Friday … It happened so fast that we’re still trying to figure that out, where to go from here.” Louis said that they’ll probably look for a third show member, but that they’re not going to rush into it.
KSCS has had a recent resurgence in the ratings, and Hawkeye and Dorsey is the No. 1 country morning show and No. 4 morning show overall, Louis said.
“Terry’s rather unassuming,” Louis said. “He would have been happy to have his last day be the day he made the announcement.”
Dorsey says that his post-radio plan is to hook a trailer to the back of his truck and move to Illinois, where his wife has relatives. “I’m looking forward to the change of seasons, I’m looking forward to snow — and I’ll probably be back next year,” Dorsey said. Dorsey’s Illinois land is in a rural area, surrounded by farms, which led to some jokes about Dorsey becoming a farmer.
Dorsey is one of the few people who was won “air personality of the year” awards from the CMA, the ACM and Billboard Magazine. He is also a member of the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He has interviewed just about everyone in country music, but says in his KSCS bio that his favorite interview is actually a combo of interviews: Garth Brooks, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at the Academy of Country Music Awards Show ’98 during a national radio broadcast.
Dorsey was known for April Fool’s pranks, such as a 2010 stunt (which actually took place March 31) in which he said that he would change his name to “texasmotorspeedway.com” for $100,000, which not only got him attention from as far away as Romania but attracted the ire of a Tarrant County Courthouse official who complained that he had to mobilize workers to prepare for reporters covering the name change — which didn’t actually happen. On his KSCS bio, Dorsey says this is his favorite “bit” from his career.
Dorsey started his radio career in the late ’60s at WFKY in Frankfort, Ky., according to a Cumulus news release. He then made stops in Richmond, Ind.; Colorado Springs; and Dayton, Ohio, before arriving in Dallas. He is a Vietnam War veteran who served as a combat engineer in the Army.
During his lengthy career, Dorsey has survived a 1993 heart attack and a 1999 surgery for prostate cancer, always bouncing back to bring one of DFW’s most high-spirited radio voices back to the air.
In 2011, when KSCS rebranded itself as “New Country,” it changed the morning show’s name to Hawkeye & Dorsey.
Dorsey’s retirement is the latest in several changes in morning radio during the past several weeks in DFW. KVIL/103.7 FM dropped its Zazza Mornings show with Tony Zazza and Julie Fisk in early November. AllAccess.com reported Nov. 14 that Ken Buckner had left the Wake Up With the Wolf show on KSCS’ sister station KPLX/99.5 FM “The Wolf” (his former co-host, Lisa Taylor, remains with the station). KSOC/94.5 FM dropped The Tom Joyner Morning Show when it switched to the classic hip-hop “Boom” format. And popular Spanish personality Edgar “Shoboy” Sotelo announced Dec. 2 that he is leaving KMVK/107.5 FM “La Grande.”
This report includes material from DFW.com archives.