Remembering My Friend Chris Crowder
This week we all lost a friend, his name is Chris Crowder. He was a wonderful husband, father, talented broadcaster, and friend. I learned of his passing, like many of us, on social media. He had been missing for a few days and sadly the police discovered his body. I hadn't spoken to Chris in many years. However, I will always remember our adventures at Athens Broadcasting and our brief run in morning drive at WZYP. (Thank you Peter Thiele for reminding me that Chris was Mark 2 and I was Moe 3.)
Chris made his mark broadcasting in Huntsville, Shreveport, Wichita Falls and other parts of the country. His personality, energy, and work ethic won him many listeners. Total strangers felt they knew Chris and his family because he shared his adventures and misadventures with them. There was never a dull moment with him at the helm. Here's an example of Chris entertaining the folks at KNIN.
Personally Chris married Melody and they have two beautiful children. I recently heard from her and was excited about catching up with both of them. Broadcasting is a unique profession. You have to be part carnival barker, psychologist, and have a dash of Nick Saban to really understand what it takes to endure. Getting total strangers to like you and listen to you is easier said than done, Chris made it easy to listen to him.
I met Chris when he was doing nights at WZYP. For those of you that aren't familiar with that station, it's legendary in the top 40 world. If you wanted to make the big time, you worked at WZYP in Athens, Alabama. Bill Dunnavent owned that station and a group of others. He created a cradle of talent. Major Market players like Sean Hannity and Ace and TJ attribute their success to working for Bill D. Chris was right there with them.
Chris understood that you have to represent and giveback to your community. Nonprofits and charities were always welcome to spread the word on his show. Watch Chris let folks know how to give blood.
I remember my first days in Alabama. I was fresh off the boat from New Hampshire. I started hosting a talk show at the legendary WVNN, The Talk Monster. As I was getting off the air, I noticed loud music coming from the studio next door. I asked someone who's that? They told me it's Cabana Boy. Who? His name is Chris Callaway who was doing the night show. The guy had the energy to outwork anyone. It paid off for Chris as he moved from nights to afternoons to mornings.
He and his partner woke up the Tennessee Valley as Chris and DeeDee. Their creative humor and on air antics gave the listeners a gift of endless laughter. It was not uncommon to hear folks at the Walmart say 'did you hear what happened on Chris and DeeDee this morning?' She explains their on air magic to WHNT.
How will I remember Chris? I'll remember our endless talks of what we wanted to accomplish over meals at the Athens Cracker Barrel. Driving from Athens to Madison, in his blue Camaro, contemplating what would it take to become a success in Alabama. Going to haunted houses and being too scared to go in. Thankfully Melody was there so she led the way!
A final story that explains why Chris was such a great friend. Sometimes young broadcasters make mistakes. One night our sports talk host challenged the coaching staff of a local high school football team. Shocking the entire staff showed up and they looked like they were ready to rumble. Somehow they got into the building and it didn't look good for us. (You have to know that this is Alabama where football is a religion and the coaches are not that far removed from playing.) Factor that in with a talented broadcaster looking for a reaction and you have a showdown at the Athens Broadcasting Corral. I remember Chris and Peter calming those coaches down and getting them out of our building. Chris never left a comrade behind and it was a blessing to be around him.
Chris Crowder was and always will be our friend. A kind, talented, passionate soul that made our lives better by just knowing him. You were never a stranger around Chris. I'm sure he's doing the same thing right now in Heaven.