Radio Legends Ring in for CALS Event to Benefit Ron Robinson Theater

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For the first time ever, four titans of Central Arkansas morning radio will be united on the same stage.

Bob Robbins, Craig O’Neill, “Broadway” Joe Booker and “The Outlaw” Tommy Smith will share memories, stories and some surprises during “An Evening with the Legends of Radio—Live and Unscripted” on Saturday at the Ron Robinson Theater in Small stone. Proceeds from the event, which is hosted by the Central Arkansas Library System’s Arkansas Sounds Series and the theater, will go towards improving the venue.

Danny-Joe Crofford, the furiously optimistic marketing whiz who spent more than 20 years working at Arkansas radio, including as Smith’s sidekick, will host the show. He is a die-hard fan of all four DJs and says bringing them together for an event like this has long been a goal.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, pay homage to Mount Rushmore from [Central Arkansas] morning radio. It’s a one-night, once-in-a-lifetime event with these legendary characters. It’s the first time I’ve had butterflies.”

Working in different formats – country for Robbins, pop for O’Neill, R&B for Booker and rock/sports/talk for Smith – the quartet has a combined 1,000 years on the air.

Well, maybe not that much. But close.

Robbins started in radio at a station in Americus, Ga. He signed to KAAY in Little Rock in 1967 before moving to KARN and then KSSN-FM. He now hosts the morning show on KMJX-FM (“The Wolf”). He was inducted into the Country Broadcaster DJ Hall of Fame in 2008 and was named Broadcast Personality of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1996.

O’Neill started in 1969 at KBTM in Jonesboro before moving to KARN-AM in Little Rock. In 1981, he took the morning crew at KLAZ-FM before moving to KURB-FM (“B-98.5”) a decade later. He moved from radio to television on January 1, 2000, when he became a sports anchor at KTHV-11, where he is now a news anchor.

Booker, a native of Kingstree, SC, is an Air Force veteran who got his start in 1976 as an announcer on the Armed Forces Network. He worked at a station in Lonoke and KOKY-AM before joining KIPR-FM (“Power 92 Jams”) 34 years ago. He is the station’s program director and host of the morning show.

Smith, who retired in December, began his radio career in 1974 at KEWP-AM in Little Rock. After serving in the military, he returned to Little Rock in 1980 and aired on KMJX-FM (“Magic 105”) where he embraced his outlaw persona. He joined KABZ-FM (“The Buzz”) in 2004.

“I’m happy and excited to be doing this with three of my really good friends in the broadcast business,” Robbins said. “I like them all very much, and we’re going to have a great time.”

When asked if he knew what to expect on Saturday, Booker replied: “I know Danny-Joe is going to have a lot of surprises, but I have no idea what he has in mind. I’m sure there are going to be great stories, and the number one thing is for the library to make money.”

Smith, who notes that he has enjoyed sleeping late since retirement, said “I was really touched” when asked to participate. “He should have been called ‘Bob Robbins, Broadway Joe, Craig O’Neill and, oh, yeah, Tommy Smith.'”

“I’m looking forward to Saturday night,” O’Neill says, before joking, “even though the BS is going to get really deep.”

The years of battling for rankings have been filled with “friendly competition,” Smith says. “We’re all older now and mellowed.”

“A fight is probably going to break out,” O’Neill said with a laugh.

“An Evening with Radio Legends – Live and Unscripted”

  • With Bob Robbins, Craig O’Neill, “Broadway” Joe Booker and “The Outlaw” Tommy Smith
  • 7 p.m. SaturdayCentral Arkansas Library’s Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock
  • Admission: $100, proceeds of which will be used to improve the Ron Robinson Theater
  • Information: cals.org; (501) 918-3000
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