WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — If you’re from Texoma, chances are you’ve heard the booming voice of Big Jim Russell.
Russell started his radio career back in 1974 and has experienced quite a few changes over the decades. Right now, he’s making a change himself – going home to where it all began.
For Big Jim Russell, radio isn’t just a hobby. It’s a passion that started back in the early 1970s, and, as you can imagine, things have changed in nearly five decades.
“I had turntables, I had carts, I had a 45 record next to me,” Russell said. “Everything’s changed. All the music is now uploaded to the computer, all the commercials are uploaded through the computer.”
Big Jim started off on 99.9 KLUR almost 50 years ago before switching over to 94.9 The Outlaw.
This week, he’s made the switch back to KLUR to finish off his radio career.
“My boss said I helped put the saddle on KLUR in the early days, and he wants me to ‘ride the horse into the sunset,’ is the way he put it, so going into my 50th year is going to be on KLUR, and I’m very happy about it,” Russell said.
Big Jim said being a well known DJ isn’t just about your voice being heard on the radio – it’s using that voice to serve the community, which he did for many, many years along with KFDX for Jerry’s Kids and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“It’s been that way from the very beginning man, I’ve got a servants heart,” Russell said. “I’ve always had that; that’s my gift, my spiritual gift, and I’ve always liked helping people less fortunate than myself, and I dedicated myself for all 48 of these years, helping Texoma in whatever capacity I could.”
Over the years, Big Jim has also played a vital role in bringing big musicians to Wichita Falls.
“In the early days of KLUR, we used to have a lot of concerts come to Wichita Falls at Memorial Auditorium,” Russell said. “I’ve brought on Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, I’ve brought on The Statler Brothers, Barbara Mandrell, I’ve brought on Willie Nelson countless times. I was one of the disc jockeys that was the emcee when George Jones didn’t show up – you know, he was a ‘No Show Jones’.”
When asked about ending his radio career soon, Big Jim’s response was swift.
“No sir; I’ve already said it, and I’ve told people that I will probably die with a microphone in front of my face or fly away, of the two, but I’m going to have this mic in front of my face forever,” Russell said. “My dad told me a long time ago that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, and he was absolutely right.”
Here’s a fun fact: Big Jim Russell back in the mid 1980s stayed in a frozen block of ice for 72 hrs straight. He said he was hypnotized before going in in order to keep from having to go to the bathroom and used a small pvc pipe for breathing in hopes of helping the late Harry Patterson sell cars.