The voice on the phone was familiar even if the face was not.
“Greg, this is David Lewis of KPHN radio,” he effortlessly boomed into my ear. I knew Lewis from his many years in Kansas City radio just as any other AM radio junkie would. He had spent decades reading news, writing copy and doing voiceover work. But this was the first time he had ever called me. For all I knew David Lewis thought Gregory Hall was a building on UMKC’s campus.
Turns out Lewis was a fan of my Baseball Is… verse. He and Woody Cozad, a quick-witted local lawyer, were trying to put together a cast of characters for their new once-a-week program titled, Radio for Grownups. Cozad had saddled Lewis with the task of finding a Frank Deford-lite kind of guy for the sports segment of their NPR-like show.
Lewis mentioned to me he liked my writing and that Cozad was willing to pay cash.
“What time do you need me there,” I too-quickly responded.
Not being as familiar with NPR in my 40s as I am now at almost the age of 60, I wasn’t quite sure what Cozad and Lewis wanted from me for their show. I jotted down some notes and showed up to tape my five-minute sports segment at the station’s studio in the basement of the downtown Muelebach Hotel.
After shaking hands and exchanging awkward pleasantries, Lewis directed me to a chair in front of a microphone and motioned for me to sit.
“Let me play you one of my pieces,” Lewis said as he sat on the production side of the desk. “This will give you an idea of what we would like the show to sound like.”
For the next seven minutes I sat captivated by the sound of Lewis’ melodic voice entwined with a whimsical music bed as he told the story of how as a child he and his grandfather would “fish” for giant-sized catfish with their barehands. To this day that story and his reading of it remains one of my favorite moments in radio.
As the tape ended, (this was still the pre-digital age), Lewis turned to me and smiled. “Okay, partner,” he croaked. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Lewis rose to adjust the microphone boom to land just inches from my face and then asked me for a voice reading to measure my levels.
“Uhhhh, I don’t think I’m ready,” I stammered.
Lewis looked at me puzzled.
“What I’ve got here on this paper does not belong on the same radio show as what you just played for me,” I confessed. “I need to go home and write something else. I had no idea you guys were going to be good!”
Lewis let out a roar of laughter – the first of many he and I would share – and released me to try again.
Our Radio for Grownups weekly radio show was funded by Woody’s dream and David Lewis’ vast talent. It was a pleasure and an honor to be a part of it. The show was simply underexposed and never received the proper platform to reach a substantial audience.
David Lewis’ skill as an author has unfortunately suffered a similar plight over the years as he searches for an audience for his books. I think Lewis is an undiscovered Garrison Keillor. I am hoping that someone out there who reads my blog will think the same and help David move from beyond an e-book publishing existence into an arena where he can find a book-buying audience. The link below will take you to his website. Please take some time to peruse his works and contact David if you can help.
David Lewis email: