The Prince’s Diary - 405 Magazine

The Prince’s Diary

As the plane touched down on June 20, I turned off the “airplane mode” setting on my cell and watched the phone light up with an unusually long stream of text messages that had come while I’d been in-flight.

As the plane touched down on June 20, I turned off the “airplane mode” setting on my cell and watched the phone light up with an unusually long stream of text messages that had come while I’d been in-flight.

The first came from a coworker. With just a few words, her message doubled me over: “Bob Barry, Jr.
was killed this afternoon in a motorcycle accident.”

The din of conversation among chatty travelers around me quickly trailed off, giving way to the maelstrom
of my own heartbeat as the blood rushed to my head. My hands shook violently as I began frantically
scanning the remaining messages for the text that would surely say,
“Correction – he was just involved in a motorcycle accident.”


Before Slice published its inaugural issue in the fall of 2010, I pitched the idea of contributing a monthly interview column, a light Q&A with someone interesting. “This feature should be fun!”
I said, and we should set the tone right out of the gate with someone that everybody loves.
Who better, I thought, than BBJ?

The column’s first incarnation was called “The Other Side of …” and it was intended to acquaint readers with the lesser-known details of a well-known, local personality.

There have been some gems among the 60+ interviews that have followed since the first with Bobby, but I’ve always referred to that particular exchange as the best I ever had. He was funny, insightful, upbeat and fully engaged. His characteristically friendly, approachable manner transcended the printed page to reveal who he truly was – a prince among men, a ray of sunshine who never made exceptions as to whose day he would brighten.

A regular reader of “Last Laugh,” Bobby frequently emailed or texted to tell me how he’d howled or related to something I’d written, pointing out that he always read Slice from the back page first.

With that in mind, I thought it fitting to dedicate this month’s “Last Laugh” to Bobby, whose candid 2010 interview revealed a few of the many reasons we’ll always love, remember and miss our prince and the laughter he brought to us all. Excerpts from “The Other Side of … Bob Barry, Jr.” from the interview for the November 2010 issue of Slice.

He loved people as much as they loved him.

You’re so publicly visible. Do you ever wish you could just go unnoticed in the doctor’s office waiting room or in the john?

Actually NO, I don’t. I always tell Gina the day I’m not recognized is the day I no longer have a job! I truly enjoy people and chatting up strangers – always have.

I remember how it was when I was younger and wanted to approach so-called celebs. I always expected them to be decent and nice and I told myself if I were ever in that position, I would be humble and cordial to make a good first impression. Generally speaking, I like being around people at sporting events who want to visit. My late Mom was very “social” and my Dad always taught me to be kind, so I think I have a good mix of my parents’ personalities.

He loved his profession.

Can you enjoy a sporting event without feeling like you’re on the job? Do the lines blur there?

I’m a huge sports fan first, so I would be at the games anyway, if I weren’t working.

As sports reporters, we have to be quiet, so when I go to Thunder games or other local events as a “fan,” I sit still and don’t say anything. The biggest pain in the butt is our deadlines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave a football or basketball game in the waning moments to go outside for a live report. As a fan, it’s really tough to miss the best part of the games. I remember when all hell was breaking loose in Eugene a few years ago, when the Sooners were getting screwed by the refs and Oregon at the same time, and I was outside the stadium getting ready to go live and screaming, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED???!!!” People thought I was a total idiot, I’m sure.

He loved a good joke.

Is there one moment or event in your career that left an indelible mark on you?

My first year at KFOR (then KTVY), I decided to inject a little humor during my noon sportscast on April 1st. I had a guy run in front of the camera, waving a piece of paper at me like I was receiving a bulletin. I then reported that OU head football coach Barry Switzer had resigned to join the Dallas Cowboys. The only problem was I didn’t add my punch line, which was supposed to be “April Fools!” The producer was yelling in my ear to go to a commercial break, so I did, which gave the entire state of Oklahoma three minutes to react to that bombshell.

WOW. The receptionist ran into the studio to ask what I’d said to jam the phone lines. The news director rushed in, wondering why media outlets across the region were calling the newsroom. I tried to laugh my way through the next segment, saying “April Fools” about a hundred times, but the damage had been done. Afterwards, I had to call OU officials and apologize profusely. I was also banished from the building, only to meet my dad in the back parking lot. Big Bob was like Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, racing his Channel 4 car in fast circles and furiously waving at me to get in. When I did, he took off like a crazy man, trying to swing at me while I shined the passenger side doorknob. I didn’t work too many April 1sts after that, but hey, I was a prophet! I had the story correct, I was just 12 years early (Switzer indeed got hired by the Cowboys as their head coach in 1994). It was my first, and almost last, “scoop.”

He loved a Hallmark commercial and a good chick flick.

Are you sentimental about anything?

I seem to well up a lot during commercials and movies. Must be my age, I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to admit I love “chick flicks.” Gina and I go to the movies fairly often and we prefer a good romantic comedy.

Are there movies you’ve watched so many times, you can recite them word-for-word?

I bet I’ve watched “Animal House” a hundred times and I still laugh every time I see it. My favorite flicks, as you might imagine, are pretty much centered on sports, like “Seabiscuit,” “Remember The Titans,” “The Natural,” “’61,” “Hoosiers,” all the “Rocky” movies and an oldie from 1971 that still makes me weep, “Brian’s Song,” with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, about former Chicago Bears stars Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. Gets me every time.

He loved trash day.

Nine times out of 10, you will .

Go diving through trashcans at home or work, looking for items to put in the little blue recycle bins. I’m obsessed with trash (my wife thinks I’m just weird). My family is always chunking things that need to go in the recycle bins. I honestly think they do it just to watch me “dumpster dive,” but I tell them I’m just doing my small part to save their planet. My next quest is to go to Lowe’s and get one of those sticks with a nail on the end of it and go help clean up the highways and turnpikes. I think it’d be a good workout and I’d feel better about myself doing what I like: picking up trash.

He had legitimate reasons to love trash day.

What is the one thing you’re determined to accomplish by the end of the year?

I would like to eliminate all my “stacks,” as Gina calls them. I’m a pack rat. I admit it. I save everything. My desk at home is ridiculous, probably two feet deep in paperwork, files, pictures and my weakness – pens and notepads. I am a klepto when it comes to that stuff. I see a pen I like, or a notepad, in hotels, at games, at work … and they’re MINE! Bottom line: clean up my stuff to please the lovely Gina. Mike Turpen always reminds me: “happy wife, happy life.”

He was a rock star with a dream. The same dream. Over and over.

Any recurring dreams?

I ALWAYS dream I’m a rock star! I have a fantasy band called “Rough Broughton” where I’m lead vocals and the crowd favorite worldwide. I keep waiting for those Oklahoma artists to get me on-stage at the Ford Center. C’mon Toby Keith and Kings of Leon, you’re missin’ out on a talent here!

Above all, he loved his family.

Thanksgiving is coming up. What are you most grateful for?

I’m most thankful for my renewed health and for my family. What else is there? Seriously, I want to be one of those guys Willard Scott talks about on “The Today Show” who’s 100+ and still fallin’ out of bed to hang out at Walmart during the day and going to games at night. That’s what I want. And I want to hang out at a bar on a beach far, far away.

What advice do you give your kids?

Spend time with the family. I’m pretty sure my kids would tell you how much I bug them about keeping in contact with the family, especially their grandparents. We try and get our kids together whenever we can for lunch or dinner. I want my kids to call each other on birthdays, show up with a smile on their face at holidays, and engage in conversation with other relatives about what’s going on in their lives. After all, as Bob Stoops would say, “at the end of the day,” all we really have
is family.