The longtime Missourinet news director will be inducted into the Missouri Broadcasters Association (MBA) Hall of Fame in June.
Bob Priddy and Kansas City radio legend Mike Murphy will be inducted on June 2 at the Lodge of the Four Seasons at Lake of the Ozarks.
Priddy served as news director at Missourinet from 1974 until he retired in 2014.
“It’s a very big compliment to somebody who just got up every morning and came in and did his work, and did his work as well as he could,” Priddy says. “And who loved being a journalist and still does like being a journalist.”
Priddy began the 1977 effort that would lead to the Missouri Supreme Court, more than a decade later, ordering Missouri trials to be open for broadcast and still photography coverage.
He saw 1,032 Missouri state senators and state representatives come and go during his career.
Priddy has been involved in 13 inauguration ceremony broadcasts during his 40-year career, including the live January 2017 coverage of Governor Eric Greitens’ ceremony on Missourinet and Columbia television station KMIZ (Channel 17).
He remembers covering Governor Joe Teasdale’s (D) inauguration in the snow in 1977, with reporter Jeffrey Smith.
“And that was the one where it snowed a foot the night before (the inauguration),” says Priddy. “They canceled the parade. The wind chill was 45 below (zero) and Teasdale decided he would have his inauguration outdoors.”
Priddy says the event was nicknamed “Freezedale”, adding that the piano player outside the Missouri Capitol suffered frostbite that day.
He says Governor Teasdale and Missourinet didn’t get along. Teasdale served as governor from January 1977 until January 1981, losing to Republican Christopher “Kit” Bond in 1980.
Priddy grew up in the central Illinois town of Sullivan, and says he wanted to be a journalist when he was a fifth grader.
He says he “squeaked into the (University of Missouri) School of Journalism.”
Priddy credits Clyde Lear of Jefferson City for being his inspiration.
Lear, who put Missourinet on the air in January 1975, hired Bob Priddy as the news director.
“And our (Missourinet’s) job, we always felt, was to go to the (state) Capitol, to cover state government and especially the Legislature when it was in session so that people could hear the arguments, could get an understanding of what the issues are. They could hear their neighbors who came to town (Jefferson City) to testify,” Priddy says.
Priddy says before he began at Missourinet, he expected to be hired by St. Louis news/talk station KMOX (AM 1120).
Priddy began at KLIK Radio in Jefferson City, and served as the Capitol correspondent for KMOX during that time.
Priddy says he did a weekly report for KMOX and did extra reporting during a 1973 St. Louis newspaper strike.
He says then-KMOX news director Bob Hardy expressed interest in hiring him full-time, adding that he met with Hardy and longtime KMOX general manager Bob Hyland in Hyland’s office.
Priddy says KMOX would soon change news directors, and that the new one wasn’t interested in Priddy.
Priddy accepted Clyde Lear’s offer at Missourinet in August 1974 and began that November.
Transparency and open government have been top priorities for Priddy during his career.
Priddy notes he was once thrown out of a Missouri Senate committee hearing for placing a microphone on a witness table.
The MBA announcement about Priddy’s induction also notes that “Priddy is not afraid to ruffle feathers”. The MBA release says Priddy was also once thrown out of a Lincoln University curators meeting in Jefferson City, for refusing to turn off his tape recorder.
Missourinet’s 1975 start was the first time residents could hear excerpts of floor debate in the Legislature.
Priddy says what happens in Jefferson City is a local news story. He is critical of Missouri media outlets for cutting back or eliminating coverage at the Capitol.
“We’re seeing more and more radio stations that are deserting their responsibilities to serve the public with their news, the local news and the regional news and the only thing that people are getting from these stations is this daily drumbeat of division and derision and disgust,” says Priddy.
He says his first general manager, Hall of Famer Mahlon Aldridge, believed radio stations should be of a community, not just in one.
Priddy also notes that while working for Aldridge, he filled-in on sportscasts for Larry Zimmer, the longtime voice of the Colorado Buffaloes who’s in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
Priddy’s sixth book is now at the publisher. It’s about the history of the Missouri Capitol.
Priddy will be inducted into the MBA Hall of Fame with the late Mike Murphy, a popular Kansas City talk show host.
Murphy founded Kansas City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1972 and spent 46 years in radio, primarily at KCMO and KMBZ.
The MBA notes Murphy, who retired in 2004, died in 2011.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with former Missourinet news director Bob Priddy, which was recorded on March 19, 2018 in Jefferson City: