Waco Chat

Zack Owen

By Kevin Tankersley

Former host of Waco 100

“I would have said it’s been a great ride.”

I came to Waco in September of ’92, and we had a general manager named John Blake. I had been working for a company called Sun Group and I was in Birmingham, Alabama. I had worked for them in Abilene, then they sent me to Longview and then to Birmingham. They were getting ready to sell out and I knew I wasn’t going to keep my job. I’d start looking and John offered me the job here, and the job really was, ‘You’re going to come down to clean house and start over.’

I fired the overnight guy. I fired the night guy. Then I searched for a morning partner, and I found Jim working in Tyler. He did a little bit of radio and a little bit of TV. I interviewed him in November of ’92 and he started in January ‘93. And we were together from January ‘93 up until his last day on the air. It was Friday, August 18. It was the day before Cattle Baron’s Ball last year. He went on medical leave and died October 25.

So, I started doing the show alone. But I had gone to my bosses and said, ‘Hey, I really want to get somebody in there. I have a person that I have in mind I’ve worked with before.’ They said we’ll do it next year. Then the fall ratings came back.

And no slight to Jim at all, but we came back with one of the largest ratings in years. Me doing it by myself. I thought, ‘Hey, what’s happening? Jim’s gone.’ People want to listen and maybe they liked it. They’re loyal to the show. But we’re the biggest ratings in Waco.

It was Friday, March 15. (On the air), I said ‘Goodbye. Hey, have a great weekend. We’ll see you Monday.’ I looked up and in walks my supervisor, who’s out from another town. The first thing I thought was, ‘What’s he doing here?’ And then I just go, ‘This is it,’ because I’ve been involved in a lot of these. He said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you in your office.’ I got in there and there was another I Heart employee and they said, ‘Hey, the company is restructuring. We’re letting you go.’ And I said, ‘Oh. OK.’ Anyway, that was it.

(With one more day on the air), I would have said it’s been a great ride. Not too many people got to do what Jim and I got to do. There were so many people that were listeners and are friends now. And I would have said thank you to the advertisers. What we did on the morning show was pretty much different from the other day parts, and people paid extra to be on the morning show. I would have thanked the advertisers and the listeners for all the great years. I have nothing bad to say. I just wish it had been done differently.