LaBudde & Marr | Walt Bodine Collection
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Scope and Content of Collection
The Walt Bodine Collection was initially gifted to the Marr Sound Archives as a small donation of his recordings in the late 1980s. Later, print material was gifted to LaBudde Special Collection in two stages. The first donation was received in June 2012, with the remaining portion given in October 2012.
Housed in LaBudde Special Collections, the collection dates from 1950 to 2012. Having been in the broadcasting business for seven decades, Walt Bodine produced a legacy of riches for those researchers interested in the study of communications or in the history of Kansas City, Missouri. Within the collection there is biographical background; radio scripts; correspondence; research tools; numerous awards; book manuscripts; ephemera; memorabilia; news clippings and photographs. The radio scripts range in date from 1957 – 2010, representing various radio programs. One humorous script, titled “Thumbs”, was written by Bodine for the Smothers Brother’s television show. Among the memorabilia is a great collection of presidential press passes and pins along with other presidential items. Of particular interest is documentation of Bodine’s creative, if not genius, thought processes. Penned on a plethora of undated notes and notepads are writing philosophies, ideas, observations and epiphanies. As one peruses scripts and other compositions, those thoughts come to life in colorful stories and radio conversation, as well as book publications. It is a revealing insight into the man who was genuinely lauded by generations of fans.
Housed in Marr Sound Archives, the collection dates from an initial donation in the late 1980s, and primarily consists of audio cassettes and open reel tapes of Bodine's radio programs on KMBZ, WDAF and KCUR. Notable programs in the collection are the coverage of the 1951 Kansas City flood and the 1957 Ruskin Heights tornado. The collection includes interviews with Bobby Kennedy, Werner Von Braun, Charleton Heston and numerous other celebrities and historic figures.
Walt Bodine was a Kansas City institution, broadcasting across the airwaves in this region for over seven decades. His on-air voice and reporting persona captivated listeners, and his remarkable ability to sculpt engaging stories from the barest of facts made him a charismatic raconteur for generations of Kansas Citians. When he migrated from reportage to a talk show format, Walt's storytelling acumen, coupled with his impressive improvisational skills and his engaging conversational style, ensured the long-running success of this phase of his career.
Born in 1920, Walt Bodine, lived virtually his entire life in Kansas City. He was the only child of Walton Martin Bodine and Mary Gilmore Bodine. His career spanned 70 years from 1940 until his retirement in 2012. In 1950, Walt married Bernadine Beisner and they raised a family of five children: Marty; Tom; Damien; Rebecca and Mary. Bernadine Bodine passed away in 2003. Walt gave to his family his values, humor and love of Kansas City people, places and food. He set an example of how to live a rich, creative life. Walt loved conversation and the open exchange of ideas.
In later years when losses of vision, mobility and then memory set in, Walt relied on many steadfast friends who kept him up-to-date and took him out on the town. Walt was a man who rarely complained and forged ahead every way he could. He once said, “Being blind isn't a tragedy. It's just one hell of an inconvenience.” Decades of blindness could not dim his imagination and interest in people. Walt and his wife Bernie helped to establish the Jackson County Board of Services, which is a vital support to many local people with disabilities. Walt was a founder of a Saturday lunch group where lively ideas, views and news flew around the table every week, and still do.
Walt Bodine passed away on March 24, 2013, at the age of 92.