The editor has requested a short column this month, so I’m going to share some thoughts about my morning show, “Breakfast with Roger and Friends,” that started in 2002 as “Breakfast with Royce and Roger.” We lost Royce Elliott with his passing in 2013, but have continued our three daily hours of news, weather, sports and timely topical and sometimes very funny conversations.
Today, “Breakfast with Roger and Friends,” has one of the most amazing staff of unique and experienced professionals ever assembled by any radio station. Steve Young has over 40 years of radio experience; Jim Bixby, Phil Salzer, Mike Olson and Brian Hulin have taught and/or coached over a combined 150 years; and no one knows more about local arts than Suzette Boulais or history than long-time friend Norm Kelly.
We’ve been joined by retired physician Dr. Gene Sidler. His medical and sports knowledge have been an outstanding addition to our show. We miss our long-time co-host Alicia Butler and others who’ve helped on the show over the years.
When we started, Royce was the obvious attraction. His impeccable comedic timing and quick wit made our mornings an absolute riot on and off the air. Our personal friendships with people like Pete Vonachen, George Shadid, Jim Maloof, Mike McCoy, Jim Ardis, Bob Michel, Jonathan Winters, Pat Hughes, Jerry Brady and so many others made getting up at 4:30 easy, or at least, easier. Of course, the “big draw” in the morning was Royce, but no one loved the show more than I did and do. My affection for radio started in grade school and continued at Bradley where I completed work on B.S. and M.A. degrees with Dr. Larry Norton, Dr. Clara Mawhinney and Hank Vanderhayden, my radio mentor. I spoke into microphones at WSIV, WPEO, WJIL in Jacksonville, WSWT, WTAZ, WOAM, 94.3 and now WAZU-FM 90.7.
But, the greatest experience of them all was the American Forces Radio Network in Germany with an estimated audience of 50 million. It was the thrill of a lifetime traveling to Army and Air Force bases doing baseball play-by-play in Germany and France. When not on the road, I did daily sports shows at network headquarters in a castle in Hoescht, Germany, a suburb of Frankfurt. Today, I feel blessed to be able to do what I’ve always loved doing, and to do it with people I consider great friends. You’re invited to join us each morning from 6 to 9 a.m. on FM-90.7.