Jenny Rose Gonzalez has informed Radio Ink that her dad, Billy Campbell, also known to many as the “crazy radio guy,” has passed away. Campbell was 78. Jenny shared some thoughts with us about her dad that we thought we’d pass along to you.
“The broadcaster who loved the show and the stunts, the performance that radio was back in the day. This was the cape he wore for the world and he wore it well…with great success for many years.
But dad was more than the show.
He was loud but preferred the quiet. He was social and funny, but preferred the solitude. He pounded the pavement but preferred the winter woods or the waves of sea. He was a tough businessman, but also a poet. He talked a lot, but he was also an incredible writer — a student of Robert Burns, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Frost. He was American, but never completely let go of his French Canadian and Scottish roots. He was self-centered, but he was also loyal and loved to teach the next generation. He drank beer but also ran 29 marathons and completed countless triathlons.
His career started at WKBW where he crossed the border to pound the pavement. Raised by a hard-edged cop and a sweet but timid nurse, his childhood was tough. He met my incredible mom and never went back — radio would become his life. My dad loved the creative, the sizzle, and the theatrics of radio, but it was the hunt that drove him.
My dad was a part of some of the best radio in the country. He was at WKBW, WPRO, and WSNE in Rhode Island. He launched Magic in Boston and brought Coyote Calhoun to WMEX and WHAS in Louisville and The Cat in Lexington. His final stop was running WCRB in Boston. He started with rock and roll, but ended with classical. Strangely fitting for a man whose outside persona was always tough, loud rock and roll, but whose final days were a quiet Mozart concerto.
My dad wasn’t perfect and my relationship with him was often tough. And while I purposely carved my own path, his influence on me was always so strong. I followed his path, but not always his advice. He always told people that I was him in drag. It used to embarrass me when I was a kid. So many times I didn’t understand, and yet I am him in so many ways.
I’m loud, but prefer the quiet. I’m social, but prefer the solitude. I’m creative, but I love the close. My career is my drive, but my children and family are my rock. Just like my dad. Because at the end of it all, it wasn’t the show or the noise, it was just dad with his wife, Barbara, and his three kids, George, Kirsten, and myself…Jenny Rose.
Thank you for letting me share.
Jenny Rose Campbell