Where did you grow up?
I grew up in West Texas oil country. My hometown of Odessa is only 20 minutes away from where the current president of the United States spent his formative years (Midland, Texas). The old saying is that Odessa is the place you went to raise hell, and Midland is the place you went to raise a family. Odessa is home to the world's largest (plastic) jackrabbit and a fairly sizable meteor crater. I am a graduate of Permian High School — a school known far and wide for its powerful football teams, its precision marching bands, and its beautiful cheerleaders. I barely escaped…er, graduated from high school. My former teachers stand in amazement that I have amounted to anything at all, and several people reportedly turned over in their graves when they I was named a "Prominent Former Odessan." In truth, it was a great place to live and I really had a Beaver Cleaver middle-class upbringing. If you ever run into my friends Ray Beaty or Craig Turner don't believe anything they tell you about once locking me in the trunk of my car.
Describe the moment when you decided you wanted to live your life as a journalist.
I think I was eighteen, working part-time as a disc jockey at a small AM radio station in my hometown. After playing the same 45 (a small black vinyl disc once used to play music on something they used to call a turntable) for the 100th time, I decided I needed a job that would let me get out of the station. It was then and there that I began scheming to become a radio newsman. I reached that goal one year later when I was 19. Not satisfied with that success, I made the fatal error of seeking a job in TV news.
Who’s your favorite author and/or book?
"Getting Past No : Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation" by William Ury. This is one of those books that doesn't take a long time to read, but is filled with great advice that you can use in myriad ways.
Name one thing you absolutely couldn't live without.
My guitar collection. I have been playing since I was about 13. I cannot pass up a guitar store, and now possess more guitars than I care to admit publicly. It is a great way to unwind from the deadline pressure of the news business. Making music (even bad music) forces one to use the creative parts of your brain. I also have a modest 32-track recording studio in my home, and collect rare vintage microphones. Those would be hard to part with as well.
Your first car?
This will be hard for anyone who knows me now to believe: a 1967 Opel Kadett. And I was able to squeeze my entire 6' 4" frame in it — though not comfortably.
Favorite movie of all time?
Easy. “Airplane!” I know all the goofy dialogue — “Surely, you must be kidding. I'm not kidding, and stop calling me Shirley.”
Who’s had the greatest influence on your life?
As a person — my Dad — who was a very honest and principled man. As a journalist, a guy I worked for at WKRG -TV in Mobile, Alabama named Bill Farris. Bill really polished me up as a journalist and forced me to improve daily as a reporter. Musically, I am influenced most by the Beatles, the great music of Motown, Willie Nelson (a very underrated guitarist) and my main man, country legend Marty Stuart.
What is one thing viewers would never guess about you?
I can ride a unicycle. No, really — I swear!