Jack Elliott was on the air, playing country music at WKY, when the call came from the general manager’s office. The station had been a radio giant back in the day, but its audience was dwindling as powerhouse KXY throttled its competition. So a format change to “easy listening” was in the works, and Elliott was fired. It was early summer 1990.
“Getting fired from that place was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Elliott says 28 years later. “No way I could perform in that radio format without taking a head-first dive out a fifth story window. I went across Britton Road, where WKY was located, to the Benham building and met with Ron Williams and station management for KOOL 102. We had dinner and made a deal. The first day we hit the air, we just knew the chemistry was electric.”
A few months later, the new team of “Jack and Ron” was gaining momentum, playing all the “KOOL” oldies from the ’50s and ’60s.
“We kicked it from day one,” Williams says. “Jack and I had known each other before teaming up, but we just didn’t tell management. Man, those days were fun.”
But in the radio business, nothing is permanent. A few years later, KXY was, ironically, instrumental in Jack and Ron finding another home.
“The company that owned KXY bought KOOL-102 and again, we were caught in a format change,” Elliott says. “KOOL became Twister, and we hit the road. That’s when we landed at KISS-FM, and it was there we enjoyed a 23-year run.”
Through the years, Elliott said, he and Williams developed a more talk-based morning show with listener calls, features and entertainment. Eventually, station management asked them to move their show a little farther down the dial and breathe some life into FUN 96.9. And that was the beginning of that chapter’s end.
“Over there, we were required to play much more music than our audience had come to know us for,” Elliott says. “We were there a couple of years and our parent company filed for bankruptcy. The entire airstaff was dismissed in basically a corporate move. I do not believe our local management would have ever made such a decision. They even told us ‘Jack and Ron’ was the biggest brand in the OKC radio market.”
The end came on Dec. 29, 2017, just before the new year. Much like the call he had received at WKY a couple of decades earlier, Elliott said the axe came down swiftly.
“We got off the air that Friday morning and learned it was over,” he says. “No last show, no farewell to our listeners. They just pulled the plug.”
Since then, he and Williams have been embracing today’s technology to connect with their fan base.
“We have a new podcast, and it is a great opportunity to be in control of our work,” Elliott says. “It’s ours, we own it. The podcasts are audio-only, [but] our producer Brad Reed also shoots the entire thing on video and we run it on our Facebook page, then add it to our YouTube channel and iTunes.”
It’s the interaction with their listeners Williams said he misses the most.
“I miss being able to touch base with our public, the community, and being able to convey different thoughts to the community,” he says. “Plus, it’s always good to hold buttheads accountable! I appreciate the fantastic adventure we’ve had. Our journey was made even better by the respect we have shown each other. But we would be nowhere without our crowd.”
The duo said they still hope to resurface on terrestrial or traditional radio and also have been approached about a possible syndicated show.
“We never got a chance to say goodbye to our listeners,” Williams says, “so we appreciate 405 Magazine giving us this forum to say, ‘Thank you.’ And keep your eyes and ears open – Jack and Ron are not done yet!”