It’s always great when a hometown guy does well, and even better when he does well for others at the same time. Dave Pratt knows a lot about both.
Pratt hosts the morning drive show at KMLE (107.9 FM). Arriving there in 2003, he remains among the top rated of all Valley morning shows, and far and away the most listened-to personality in the country radio genre.
And now, after nearly three decades on the Phoenix-area radio dial, Pratt has chronicled his life’s journey in a very public, and very crazy business, and put it all into his new book, “Behind The Mic: Thirty Years In Radio.”
Anyone who has enjoyed Pratt, radio, music, or Arizona in the past quarter-century will have a tough time putting this one down. And a little bit of my own history is in the book as well.
It was the summer of 1977. On a road trip from our family home in Huntington Beach, Calif., to the mountains of Idaho, my mom, dad, sister and I had just checked into a motel in a place I’d never heard of before — Elko, Nev. After the car was unloaded, I begged my parents to let me go visit what appeared to be a radio station down the road.
“Only if your sister will go with you” was the verdict from Mom. Minutes later, older sis and I were standing at the front door of KELK radio, where a guy not much older than me (I was 13 at the time) was inviting us in. Amazingly, this other “kid” was all alone, running the entire station by himself, and while he seemed more focused on my older teenage sister than me, he did nonetheless give us both “the tour.” When it was over, I left with the thought that “if that kid can do radio, so can I …”
That was 1977. It was the first time I had been in a radio station. And in 2002 when Pratt and I became friends, we pieced the stories together and, yes, that was a very young Dave Pratt inspiring a very young Austin Hill, 25 years earlier.
Pratt’s humble beginnings are captured in chapter 2, entitled “Have To Start Somewhere.” Here the life lesson is straightforward: whether you’re in the big leagues of your chosen profession, or something smaller, the basics of your work are essentially the same, so you best work hard and develop your skills wherever you are.
From there, Pratt recounts his move to the “big city” of Phoenix. He notes that at the time, KTAR radio had more station vehicles that KELK had employees and the campus of Scottsdale Community College was like Elko High School on steroids. Pratt also confesses that while a student at Arizona State University, he earned a master’s degree in “having a good time.”
We also learn of Pratt’s Phoenix radio beginnings; the time he was sent into a biker bar dressed as a “cupid” (a play on the call letters KUPD); his landing the overnight show at KUPD; and his unlikely transition from overnights to morning drive icon.
And the photos! There’s Pratt with mountains of school supplies donated by KMLE listeners; shots of “Dave Pratt And The Sex Machine Band” (love that ’80s rocker hair, Dave); and a picture of teenage Pratt at KELK, wearing — no kidding — a Brady Bunch T-shirt.
Ultimately, “Behind the Mic” is a story of combining a passion for one’s craft with exceptional business acumen, and a focus on giving back to others. Laced with endearing stories about family, the proceeds from Pratt’s memoir go to the American Cancer Society to help others confront and beat cancer, just as Dave did three years ago.
Trust me: this is a great gift item for the holidays. Visit www.daveprattbook.com for details.
Austin Hill of Gilbert is a host for Arizona Web TV
(www.Arizonawebtv.com). He is co-author of “White House Confidential: The Little Book of Weird Presidential History,” and is an editorialist for the national news and commentary site Townhall.com. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.