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Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

Lending a Helping Hand

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Media fixture Tom Pace needs your encouragement and support

“Our friend Tom Pace needs our help.”

So starts the narrative on a gofund.me page for a man who has become a fixture in local media for over 50 years, 30 of them at KWKH.

Tom Pace is the voice behind “The Talk of the Town,” the countdown to the Independence Bowl, “Talk Maverick’s Basketball with Coach T,” and literally thousands of interviews with the famous and not-so-famous. But in the last year, he’s been laid off, diagnosed with cancer, and is struggling to make ends meet.

Over the years, Tom Pace interviewed people like Reba McEntire, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, senators, mayors, Ed McMahon, even Garth Brooks. “In fact,” he said, “I knew Garth before he was Garth, when he played the Hirsch Coliseum for our listener appreciation show.”

His deal with his last radio station was on commission; he paid for airtime and sold sponsorships to pay the bills. He produced, booked and sold his programs; he was the quintessential one-man band. “It was a full-time job,” he said to produce those two-hour broadcasts. “You’re having to juggle about three balls at once whenever you’re on the air.

“I didn’t get a salary. I was able to do OK. We did ‘Kids on the Radio,’ and we had a good sponsor. We did ‘Talk Maverick’s Basketball with Coach T,’ and then that went away and so did the sponsor for ‘Kids on the Radio.’ It was costing me about $2,000 a month and I had no income, so I was paying it out of my Social Security. Which did not last too long. Then we decided it would be better for me not to do the show, so I didn’t.”

That was nine months ago, and he’s not eligible for unemployment because he was considered contract labor. He has macular degeneration, which is causing him to give up driving. He’s trying to sell the car to cut the expense of insurance and a car note.

He said he’s trying to keep a positive attitude and hopes to soon revive “Talk of the Town” as a podcast. In the meantime, he’s still producing a onehour version that airs on The Promise 90.7 Talk Radio airing Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon.

Those broadcasts are often the only exposure local groups have for getting the word out about their projects.

“It’s now been pretty close to 56 years that I have been in some form of radio, television and marketing,” he said. Before that, he even taught college at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock for a time.

I interviewed the late [Shreveport City Councilwoman and political firebrand] Joyce Bowman. I had her there about three weeks before she died. She knew she was going. She brought a whole handful of letters from people who knew her and knew of her and didn’t know her. She said, ‘I am so blessed.’ I said, what do you want the people to know? She said, ‘Tom, give me my roses today so I can enjoy them. It does no good once I’m gone.’” One of Tom’s friends, Joel Rodgers, has started a Go Fund Me page for the veteran broadcaster. On it, he says, “My words and sentences can’t express how special of a person Tom Pace is, but if you know Tom, then you already know.”

Tom said his goal is to try to help someone every day. Now, he needs some help of his own, he said, and he’s tried to be kind to everyone he has dealt with. And there have been a lot of people who sat across the microphone from Tom Pace.

“All I can tell you is that the people I’ve talked to, I’ll never forget. And hopefully, they won’t forget me.”

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