Texoma radio icon Terry Bell signs off - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Texoma radio icon Terry Bell signs off

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Texoma radio personality Terry Bell closed out his career on October 11, 2019. (KTEN) Texoma radio personality Terry Bell closed out his career on October 11, 2019. (KTEN)
Terry Bell was soon on the air after starting as a janitor at KADA radio. (Courtesy) Terry Bell was soon on the air after starting as a janitor at KADA radio. (Courtesy)
Terry Bell saved this photograph of him interviewing Conway Twitty at a live remote in Ada. (Courtesy) Terry Bell saved this photograph of him interviewing Conway Twitty at a live remote in Ada. (Courtesy)
Terry Bell worked for KRLD and WFAA in Dallas. (Courtesy) Terry Bell worked for KRLD and WFAA in Dallas. (Courtesy)

ARDMORE, Okla. -- On Friday morning, a man called an industry icon in Texoma radio signed off for what he said is the final time.

Terry Bell started as a janitor at what was KADA radio in the mid-60s. Within a short time, at age 14, he was behind the turntable, spinning those records.

His voice is recognized by thousands in both Oklahoma and Texas. This was his last week as the morning drive personality on GTO 107 in Ardmore.

After 52 years on the air, Terry Bell said it's time to retire.

"I was at WFAA 57 for three years, and then I went to KRLD, and then came to Ardmore after nine years in Dallas," he said. "So Glen Campbell... that was my first big time interview."

In the 1960s, working in Ada, he interviewed Conway Twitty at what was Twitty Burger.

Live remote appearances often posed a challenge.

"During the summer, it was so hot!" Bell recalled. "We had turntables ... they had to get us out of the sun because the records stated to melt while it was playing and the needle started bouncing!"

But the world of broadcasting was not foreign to Bell; it was a family tradition. He and his brother Berry followed in the footsteps of their father, Monte Bell.

"Monte Bell helped put KTEN television on the air in the 50s. Monte Bell did news and sports and all kinds of things," his son said.

From his beginnings in Ada,  Dallas to Ardmore,  those who know Terry Bell best say there won't be another one like him.

"I think what stands out to me are how many times he won the Oklahoma Personality of the Year awards," said colleague Pat Owenby. "We got to where the radio stations would say, 'Is he entering this year again? Because he always wins!'"

Bell was even a finalist for the County Music Association Personality of the year in 1996. 

"I didn't win, but it's always nice to be nominated," he said.

"He's one of those guys when the microphone comes on, he doesn't put on... it's who he is. And when the microphone goes off, he's still who he is... just a natural guy," Owenby said.

And that brings us to what Bell planned to do on October 11.

"I'm gonna unplug the headphones and call it day Friday and go to the house," he said.

What stands out after more than five decades on the air?  It's the people.

"I'm looking back on this and reflecting," he said. "That was a big deal! You should have taken more pictures, and kept more tape, more interviews."

Terry Bell did retire once before. After a while, his wife suggested that he find something to do, so he went back to work.

But this time, Bell said it's all about family, travel, coffee on the back porch, and his jukebox, which he said is loaded with rock and roll music.

And he has plenty of quarters ready.

"Thanks for listening; thanks for the ratings; and thanks for keeping me on the air all these years."

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