Remembering G. Gordon Liddy’s Life, Radio Career and Contributions to KFYO
One of the most intriguing political figures in 20th century America died on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021.
G. Gordon Liddy was 90 years old. He was born in New York City, graduated from Fordham, but spent a good portion of his adult life in Washington, D.C. becoming infamous for his role in leading the Watergate burglaries of the Democratic National Committee in 1972.
You could say Liddy experienced the best, and worst, of what America had to offer. From serving in the Army to working in the FBI, getting married and having a family, spending years in federal prison, becoming a radio talk show host, working briefly as a television actor and finally as a commercial pitchman, Liddy was a public figure for the second half of his life.
Liddy, a staunch Republican, became more politically active in the 1960s. In 1970, he was recruited to join President Richard Nixon's administration as an aide to John Ehrlichman.
That decision became the crux of a series of life-changing events for Liddy.
Liddy, and the rest of his co-conspirators were found guilty of the Watergate burglaries, and Liddy himself was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping. A convicted felon, Liddy was never pardoned for his crimes, but he was paroled after serving over four years in federal prison. President Jimmy Carter later commuted his sentence.
He then spent the 1980s on the speakers circuit and acting in Hollywood, with a memorable run on NBC's Miami Vice.
All these experiences created the foundation for Liddy's radio career, which spanned from 1992 to 2012. Originally based at Infinity Radio's WJFK-FM in Washington, D.C., his show was first built for the Hot Talk format, rather than News/Talk.
Liddy's show was originally four hours long (weekdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST/ 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CST), before being reduced to three hours in the mid-2000s. When launched, the show was wide-ranging concerning the topics: politics, current events, guns, relationships from a male perspective and listener calls. In many markets, his show followed either Imus in the Morning or Howard Stern. He also created the popular "Stacked and Packed" calendar series, featuring scantily clad women photographed with firearms.
C-SPAN simulcast a 1994 edition of his show and it's still available online.
In Lubbock, 1340 KKAM picked up Liddy's show via Westwood One soon after, it went national. It then moved to KFYO in the fall of 1996 when KFYO and KKAM became co-owned.
Once the '90s became the 2000s, Liddy's presence in the Hot Talk format began to fade, and the show took a more conventional tone as he became a mainstay on News/Talk stations.
From what I was told, Liddy's show was an instantaneous success when it moved to KFYO in 1996. When I joined KFYO in 2001, Liddy was firmly entrenched as Rush Limbaugh's lead-in.
Liddy's success on KFYO culminated with him coming to Lubbock in 2004. On September 24th, Liddy broadcast his nationwide show from a sold-out Cactus Theater. I wish we had video of that day's broadcast, but I still do have the audio.
One of the reasons Liddy wanted to come to Lubbock was to be able to interview his friend Bob Knight in person. At the time, Knight was the head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team.
Getting Bob Knight in and out of the Cactus Theater was a little bit of cloak-and-dagger that Liddy would have appreciated.
I remember in the days leading up to the broadcast being in contact with staff connected to Coach Knight. Because of scheduling and security concerns, they wouldn't tell me what time Coach Knight would show up to the theater, just that he would be there during the four-hour broadcast window and it would allow for plenty of time for the interview.
It ended up that toward the end of the second hour of the broadcast, Coach Knight and his longtime sports information director Randy Farley used the back-alley door of the theater to enter the backstage portion of the building, hidden from the audience.
We were able to let Liddy know that Knight was "in the building," and the interview went off without any issue during the third hour of the broadcast.
Once Liddy's broadcast concluded, he spent extra time at the theater posing for VIP listener photos and provided autographed photos.
During his time on KFYO, Liddy voiced a number of custom station liners and promos for us. He was really easy to work with, and it was a tough decision in mid-2007 when we switched to Neal Boortz's show as Rush Limbaugh's lead-in.
Whereas the recently departed Rush Limbaugh had a unique combination of radio gravitas and political knowledge to craft his show and on-air persona, Liddy combined his natural personality, unique life experiences and formal education into the ingredients for his show.
Occasionally, a caller would ask Liddy about the "guns he owned," and he would gently remind the caller that as a "convicted felon" he didn't own any firearms, but that, "Mrs. Liddy [his wife, Frances] had a fine collection". Liddy wouldn't discuss his specific involvement with the Watergate scandal on his show, but it certainty helped craft his opinions and disdain to certain institutions in D.C., like The Washington Post.
On Saturday, April 3rd, 2021, News/Talk 95.1 & 790, KFYO will re-broadcast a portion of G. Gordon Liddy's 2004 Cactus Theater broadcast from 2 - 4 p.m.
Here are some additional photos from G. Gordon's 2004 appearance in Lubbock: