No one title could identify him. There were several. No one specific phrase could be said to be his. Again, there were several. William Earl (Bill) (Brad) Bradford was a man of many titles and several phrases. He became a part of KSST in March 1948 approximately 18 months after the radio station opened in an upstairs studio on the downtown square in Sulphur Springs. At his death in 2013, his voice was a part of the everyday of almost every family in the county. Many counted him a friend even though they would not have recognized him. His office was housed in a building designed as forward thinking for 1965.
Brad was husband to Patsy, dad to Mark, Kerry, and Kelly. Although the operations of a radio station took much of his time, his family was an integral part of his life. His favorite comment to almost all of his employees reflected his family spirit. “We’re family,” was his concluding phrase to many a private talk with staff.
He became a partner in ownership of KSST and went on to buy out his partners and become President of Hopkins County Broadcasting. He was also the engineer for KSST.
Named to the Texas Broadcasters Hall of Fame in November 2005, he had been named Texas Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year in 1992. He was named Broadcaster of the Year in 2012 by the Texas Association of Broadcast Educators. He had chaired the Texas Emergency Broadcast System. In the community, Bill served on the Sulphur Springs School Board, assisted in unifying charity work through the United Fund Drive, and worked behind the scenes to create a strong community. Named Hopkins County Citizen of the Year in 1957, he received a Chamber of Commerce Vision Award in 2001.
The Emergency Broadcast “This is a test…” was his. Sitting in Gettysburg, PA at a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission Emergency Broadcast Committee, Bradford first spoke the phrase that was unanimously approved to identify the emergency tones as a required test and not an actual emergency. “Don’t think like me think with me,” became synonymous with his daily comment heard on KSST.
“This is the Award Winning Local News,” introduced the 12:45 p.m. news cast each day. Award Winning Local News was a correct term to use. The walls of KSST’s lobby were filled with awards from the Texas Broadcasters Association and others noting the stellar work produced by Bradford who was as much historian as journalist. His Day in History segment continues to play on KSST, not only as a tribute to his journalistic skills but also as an accurate record of the history of Hopkins County and Sulphur Springs.
An innovator, Bill was one of the first to use radar in weather reporting. He used surplus aircraft (a B-29 World War II bomber) radar set to build the weather radar. He combined cable television and radio, utilized a mobile unit (a red station wagon and later a red Camaro) vehicle to provide on-the-spot broadcasts.
Sport broadcasting was a must for KSST under Bradford’s leadership. Home to Wildcat football, basketball, baseball, KSST later added softball and soccer as Sulphur Springs High School added the sports.
Election returns was a priority for Bradford. He negotiated an agreement with the Texas Election Bureau while serving as Chairman of the Associated Press Broadcasters Association. KSST broadcast local elections reporting box-by-box totals. He felt everyone needed to know if they voted like their neighbors.
The history and heritage of KSST owes much to Bill Bradford’s personal understanding of life and the needs of others coupled with his drive to inform.
Before she became a wife, mom, and KSST employee, Patsy Flippin Bradford had begun a career as administrative assistant in a law office in Sulphur Springs which shared upstairs office space with KSST, the “new radio station”. It was there in 1948 that she met Bill Bradford, station engineer and eligible man-about-town. After they married in 1950 and started their family, she was a stay-at-home mom until Brad’s request came one Monday morning to “fill in temporarily” at KSST in payroll and billing. That “temporary” job lasted until 2012, and involved Patsy in every aspect of the business.
As Sales Manager, Patsy was a walking phone book and local encyclopedia. She was knowledgeable about the history of the town, family trees and who’s who. Her repertoire included the names of every advertiser and businessperson in town, our lawmakers in Austin and Washington DC, the PTA moms and service club members, and everybody’s phone number right off the top of her head.
To most KSST employees over the decades, Patsy was as much a “mom” to them as Brad was a father-figure, mentor and hero.