It's been more than 30 years since video killed the radio star, thank in part to Springfield native and MTV co-founder Les Garland.
On Saturday, Garland will receive the Governor's Award for lifetime achievement at the Mid-America Emmy Awards presented in Kansas City.
"To be honored with this Emmy, I still don't have the words," the veteran radio DJ and media icon said. "This gigantic recognition is blowing me away. I am beyond flattered. It's going to be a fun night and I'm looking forward to it.
"I've nicknamed it, 'my chance to see my own eulogy.' "
Garland — who also co-founded VH1, RKO Radio Network and The Box Television Network — credits his success in radio to his first gig at KSWM AM and FM in Aurora, as well as years spent at KICK Radio in Springfield.
"There was quite a music scene in the Ozarks," he said. "When I landed a job at KSWM, I learned radio. It sounds crazy, but in those days we were a full-service station. In the morning you might be delivering the news. At 9 it could be the Gospel Hour. At 11 it could be the Country Music Corner. Then at noon you are in the Farm Report and maybe the Trading Point, where you were selling things."
"It was the social network of its time. And then we played pop music in the afternoon."
Garland said he knew he wanted to be involved in radio at the age of 14.
"I wasn't ever afraid to get up in front of people. ... My heroes were Red Skelton and Johnny Carson. I had this magnet pulling me," Garland said.
He went on to work as program director at radio stations in Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston and San Francisco. He spent three years in Tulsa, Oklahoma, doing radio and television, where he also launched a weekly show called "Dance Party," which was syndicated in the four-state region.
"I am a lucky guy," he said. "So many things have just fell out of the sky. I was in the studio in the '80s visiting with Jefferson Airplane, they then became Jefferson Starship. I ended up being the DJ voice on 'We Built This City.' "
Today, Garland's consulting company, AfterPlay Entertainment, works to match famous talent with well-known brands. His company helped bring recording artist Pitbull together with the Zumba corporation to record a song for the fitness company as well as perform at the Zumba Convention.
When asked what advice he had for young entrepreneurs looking to get into the media or entertainment business, Garland offered this: "Focus on finding something that is needed, something that people want, something people will love."
"Invent something new or take something that is already out there and make it better."
About the awards show
The Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will present the Governor's Award to Garland at the 38th annual Emmy Awards on Saturday at the Kansas City Convention Center.