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Eddie Kilroys last day on Willies Place
January 26, 2009 – I received a call from Eddie Kilroy today, out of the blue and totally unexpected, and a complete shock was soon to follow. Nancy and I work side by side, like Eddie and Elizabeth, and it didn’t take very long for Nancy to realize something was wrong.
There is an update to this article. Willies Place is gone from Direct TV. Effective 9 February 2010. read more
Eddie Kilroy is no longer with Willies Place, XM-13 and Sirius-64. I missed the show this morning, Monday January 26, 2008. Kilroy said Clarence filled the normal Eddie Kilroy time slot so listeners would hear a familiar voice.
To say that Kilroy was fired would be wrong. Intelligent people know that Kilroy carried the full load for Willies Place after Gary Hightower (Catfish) left XM-13. Many of our readers called and emailed to say they only listened to Kilroy’s show, turning the station off after Kilroy signed off.
The staff at Sirius/XM deprived themselves of two legends of country music – superstars if you will – and thus dismissal makes no sense at all. If I were an investor I certainly would question the logic, or lack of it, in making such poor decisions. Willies Place lost subscribers and part of their fan base after Gary Hightower departed. I heard from many of them, and listened to their complaints.
What will happen now? Willie Nelson is reported to be upset by the decision. After all, Willie Nelson has his good name attached to this venture.
Here are the facts as I know them at this moment. After Eddie Kilroy signed off on Friday, January 23, 2009, he was approached by those in charge. Kilroy told them to cut to the chase, and asked if they were firing him. At that time he was told they could not afford him any more.
With no warning and no chance to address loyal listeners, the end came as a total shock.
In my earlier article I reported that Kilroy and Catfish were missing from the station. I clarified that Kilroy was still on the air, but Catfish was gone. Kilroy’s picture was gone, and on-air personality bio’s were not featured.
During my conversation with Eddie Kilroy he referenced my article, and said I knew something he did not know. Oddly enough the headline became true today, as the two men who built Hanks Place, and later Willies Place, are both gone.
The station had the highest Arbitron rating on the network, with the exception of Fox News Channel. Listeners tuned in for more than eleven hours per day. Eddie Kilroy and Gary ‘Catfish’ Hightower built the station and had loyal listeners from every walk of life. Pure traditional country classics and Texas music had loyal listeners at Willies Place.
Eddie Kilroy did a wonderful job. While many listeners have not recovered from the absence of Gary Hightower, it is fair to say they will not forgive Sirius/XM for their latest transgression.
Kilroy and I talked about probable effects on the music in general, and traditionalists carrying on in the footsteps of the legends of country music. Many country music fans did not know how satisfying a blend of country classics and Texas traditionalists could be. Listeners were glad to hear music by artists revitalizing their careers. Much was said about the Ray Price University, and Ray Price’s effect on other musicians.
Perhaps Martin Delray said it best when he said, “Music business is two words.” Delray once said he liked the music, but not the business. I am not qualified to make that assessment, but I know it will be hard to replace a man like Eddie Kilroy.
With roots going back over forty years, Kilroy was much more than an on-air personality. His knowledge of the music business and his ability to bring a real feel to listeners is priceless. The ability to call Kilroy in the morning, or to speak with his studio guests, was priceless.
Nowhere else could listeners feel like they were a part of the music they know and love. Arbitron ratings skyrocketed. Elizabeth Kilroy was part of Eddie’s show, and the net effect was honest, interactive, and real.
Elizabeth and Eddie Kilroy transformed the music into something real, with real people and real honesty. Legends and superstars became our friends and family, bound together by Cowboy Gatherings and folks we could talk to. You cannot put a price on that, because it is priceless.
I know our readers will be disappointed. What is Willies Place without Elizabeth and Eddie Kilroy? What is Willies Place without Gary Catfish Hightower? What will happened to Willie Nelson and the music? At this point I just don’t know.
Will we continue to hear Johnny Bush, Gary P. Nunn, Leona Williams, Justin Trevino, Dan Roberts, Baxter Black, Tony Booth, Amber Digby, Darrell McCall, Ray Price, and many others?
Will the world still hear music from Charlie Pride, Charlie Walker, Red Steagall, Bobby Flores, Curtis Potter, James Hand, and Ian Tyson?
I certainly hope the answer is yes, but there will be emptiness in our hearts and more silence in our day without Eddie Kilroy. Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights will not be the same without the Cowboy Gathering and Willies Gospel Jukebox. Our mornings will not be the same without hearing the voice of our friend.
Please visit Elizabeth and Eddie Kilroy at their website. You’ll be glad you did. Here is how to contact Eddie. After everything Eddie Kilroy did for our music and our lives just saying “thank you” seems proper, but it certainly isn’t enough. That’s the way it is with family, I suppose. Elizabeth and Eddie Kilroy certainly feel like family to many of us. Bless you both.
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