This page last updated Sunday, August 25, 2013


Max Highbaugh visits Bill Bailey and Dude Walker

On Saturday, April 1, 2006 Message Board Senior Member Max Highbaugh joined Dude Walker and Dude's wife Cynthia to visit Bill Bailey at Friendship Manor in Pewee Valley, Kentucky. Max took along a tape recorder to preserve part of the conversation. We thank Max for transcribing the recording and writing the piece below.

Download the WAKYOnline Audio Feature
MP3 Format - 2698 KB - 7:40

Max Highbaugh and Bill Bailey

In life you encounter two types of people: those who are regimented and won't do anything without a schedule or plan, and those who fly by the seat of their pants and do things spontaneously. The people in the second group don't like to be held to regulations and live on the spur of the moment. I am admittedly of the first group (this drives my wife up the wall). On April 1 I was making plans to visit someone of the second group. For sometime now (30+ years) Bill Bailey has been my hero.

With the help of another radio legend I grew up listening to, Dude Walker, I had the privilege of spending two priceless hours with the man once dubbed by Governor Wendell Ford the "Duke of Louisville." Photos were taken and part of the visit was recorded, both of which are or will be able to be seen or heard on or WAKYOnline.

However, in the mixing and editing process, some parts were omitted from the interview. What follows is the entire interview, along with some tidbits from the visit you won't find elsewhere.

I eventually found my way to Friendship Manor, and was signing in when I saw him through the door, already visiting with Dude and Cynthia Walker. In a loud voice he announced "there's Max!" I waved and couldn't believe my hero spoke like I was a long lost friend. I went in, shook everyone's hand, was introduced to Cynthia, and after a few pleasantries, including a remark by Bill on what a sharp shirt I was wearing (a WAKY/WKLO t-shirt), and some idle breaking-the-ice chit-chat, the impromptu interview (I had only intended to get a liner or two…which I forgot) went like this:

Max: You're listening to WAKYOnline and I'm sitting here with Bill Bailey, the ol' Duke of Louisville and Dude Walker, as well. Bill, it's been 30-40 years since your reign on the Louisville airwaves, first on Radio WKLO, then on the Super 79. And 20 years since you left those airwaves for Lexington. Still, without question Louisville absolutely loves you…they remember you, still ask about you, and to most folks, myself included,  you are tops. You made the comment last July you were not worthy of all the recognition you have received. Even for the Duke of Louisville, that's got to be overwhelming and humbling. If you could say anything to your fans, both from back in the day and who may still listen to you on WAKYOnline, what would that be? 

Bill: I want you to know I've been recognized throughout the state of Kentucky. As a matter of fact in Lexington, Kentucky, I have a port-o-can named after me! And can you believe everybody in the state wanted to use that one port-o-can?

Bill Bailey and Dude Walker 

Max: You and the gentleman next to you, Dude Walker, go back a long time. What are some of your favorite memories of each other? 

Bill: Well the first time I (met) Dude Walker I was bailing him out of jail! He was in jail for imitating a cop! Can you believe that? Does he look like a police officer to you? (To which I replied, he did at the moment with his mirrored shades.) Well, he was the one that arrested me! Good gawd, man, I've been arrested by everybody! 

Max: What about you, Dude…what are some of your fondest memories about the Duke? 

Dude: First of all, I've never been in jail in my life (Bill busts out laughing) and second of all, the first thing I remember about Duke is coming to Louisville from Memphis and listening to the radio to see what the competition sounded like and I heard Bill and I thought, man, there is no way we're ever going to beat this guy on the air. And if I had the talent that Bill Bailey has, who is by far the greatest disk jockey I've ever heard or worked with either, if I had the talent he had, I'd be a millionaire right now and be living in Florida on the coast. But the thing I remember about Bill was he was the same thing off the air as he was on the air and he was extremely friendly and very nice to me and the days he couldn't make it to work I enjoyed working for him and eating the food everybody brought him. 

Bill: Yeah, I'm extremely friendly, alright. What he doesn't know is while he's sitting down telling other people about me I'm going through his clothes…I'm trying to pick his pocket. 

Max: Did you ever come up with anything missing? 

Dude: No, I never came up with anything missing, you know? Like I said, what you heard from Bill on the radio is what you got in person. And if you went out and had a drink with him (Bill remarks ‘like they all did'), which I occasionally did when I was younger (I can't do that anymore with diabetes), he was just as funny sitting at the bar or across the table as he is on the air. He's just a unique individual. 

Max: Do you ever hear from past judges and mayors that you may have been friends with back over the years (like Todd Hollenbach)?

Bill: Yeah (then he asks if I mean who listened to the program…and then kind of goes off track.) Oh, my God, thousands of them! And I love everyone of them…especially the girls! (see what I meant?) But I haven't gotten around to marrying them all yet! 

Max: While we're on that subject, how man times HAVE you been married? 

Bill: More times than I care to mention. Let's stick with four, okay? That's enough… 

Bill Bailey, Dude Walker and Cynthia Walker

Max: What do you consider your crowning achievement at Radio WKLO and WAKY…and in general? 

Bill: My crowning achievement really was to be with WAKY radio. You know WAKY radio was more than just a simple radio station. It was a MONUMENT to radio. I'm tickled to death that I was a part of it.

Max: How many locations were you at...were you just at the one on Fourth Street or were you at the Kentucky (Life) Building? 

Bill: I was at the one on Fourth Street. 

Dude: That was the main one. The one with all the memories. 

Bill: Yeah, that's the one with all the memories. The one before that was…NOTHING! (sorry, Ben and Tim!) It was just a Top 40 radio station. They just played their 40 records, or less than that…and we came in and we changed it. That was not a Top 40 radio station. 

Max: WAKY wasn't? 

Bill: Heck, no. Good gawd, man, we played every darn thing we wanted to play. As a matter of fact, Johnny Randolph broke country music…a number of country songs were broke on WAKY. One was ‘Silver Sheets' (to which Dude corrected ‘Satin Sheets'). Satin Sheets, I'm sorry…you know I'm getting my material mixed up. 

Max: Charlie Rich… 

Dude: Yeah, Charlie Rich "Behind Closed Doors", Ray Price "For The Good Times"…

Bill: Oh, man, "For The Good Times"… 

Dude: …"Delta Dawn" by Tanya Tucker… 

Bill: Who wrote that song, "For The Good Times"? 

Dude: Kris Kristofferson

Bill: Right you are! And I've got a copy of him singing it. 

Dude: That's one of my favorite songs… 

Bill: And I've got a copy of him singing it and I'll tell ya he (does it beautifully). He sings that song so beautifully it brings tears to my eyes. 

Dude: "For The Good Times"…that's one of my all time favorites. 

Max: That's why (we) added that song to our playlist… 

Dude: Oh, is that right? I love it, I really do… 

Max: Okay, last question, I think I asked this of you a minute ago, if you could say anything to your listeners over the years, back from the '60s and '70s and even the ones who are listening to you today on WAKYOnline…what would that be? 

Bill: Well, I'd say thanks for being a friend. 

Dude: You know WAKY wasn't a Top 40 radio station, it was EVERYBODY'S radio station. (Bill laughs) It appealed to everybody, you know? My thing has always been that I was grateful for all the people who made living in Louisville the greatest time in my life. And it truly was. And I miss it. 

Max: Do you think that you will ever return to Louisville? 

Dude: You know, I have a grandson who is my pride and joy, and if my daughter and son-in-law were to move here with him, I'd move back tomorrow, but I'm not gonna leave my grandson, as much as I love Louisville. I enjoy coming back all the time. 

Bill Bailey and Dude Walker

Max: There was a question I skipped over…who has visited you recently that might be notable? 

Bill: I've had Mike McVay here, and Bob Moody, and George Francis (a former General Manager) and Gary Burbank and of course the magnificent Dude Walker, who is sitting right here. (Dude laughs). And his lovely bride (Dude's still laughing), whom I'm gonna steal from him (miraculously, Dude's still laughing)…but he can laugh that off, Pal! 

Max: Are you looking forward to being at the next WAKY/WKLO reunion? 

Bill: Oh, gawd, yeah, man! Well, you know the last time we had a reunion, I was in no position to drink anything. I've got a lot of cool time to make up for! I didn't eat OR drink anything. But I was in bad shape. But I'll be able to take a little drink next time. Just for old time's sake. 

Dude: For the Good Times. 

Bill: Yeah, that's right, for the good times! 

Bill: They say my old pals, are the best pals after all, boom-boom-boom (or something like that)

Max: You've heard it first on WAKYOnline (actually he's sang before on WAKY…and I can't believe I used that cliché!

Bill: I think my singing is making me sick!

Max: We've been talking with Bill Bailey, the Duke of Louisville, and Dude Walker on WAKYOnline.

Shortly after the conclusion of the interview, we rolled Bill back to his room. As we proceeded, we approached two elderly women who were kind of catatonic. Bill asks, "What are you broads up to?" and they look at him as if he had antlers. He obviously gets a charge out of this encounter and Dude laughs heartily.  

After a few closing comments, hugs and handshakes, Dude and his wife depart and I follow them, but something tells me I've got one last question to ask the Duke. I go and ask it, and he gives such a relaxed and unhurried answer that I sit back down on the spare bed while he speaks. As I listen and he continues, I feel less of a need to leave and I drop my camera bags. I realize I've been given extra innings with my hero. And we talked and talked about radio and after we were through talking about me and about him and about jerks in the radio biz and talking about common acquaintances and common former colleagues, we began to talk about non-radio things.

Perhaps the most meaningful moment came not once, but twice when he mentioned the biggest payoff he got in his radio years was the friends he met along the way. It was then his voice cracked, his face got red and his eyes moistened. Yeah, this is my hero…the jock who always talked to you, rather than at you…who made you laugh, rather than roll your eyes, yawn and reach for the Mylanta and then the dial, who was not cursing or speaking sacrilege when he said ‘Good Gawd', but rather was just being Bill. I was truly blessed this day -- and for that I give thanks.

I can't wait until August!

Download the WAKYOnline Audio Feature
2698 KB - 7:40