Kelly Jay is known in Abilene by the sound of his voice. He has been on the air at various radio stations since moving to Abilene in 1981. He started at Rock 108, then moved to KEAN in 1987. There he met Doc, another radio host, and the two have been on air together ever since. Now they have a morning show on country music station KBCY (99.7). Nine years ago, Kelly started his own advertising agency, Texas Media Inc., helping local business owners create television, radio, and visual ads.
In addition to consistently helping local charities raise money through his show and attending local events, Kelly serves on many boards. He currently serves on nine boards but at one point served on 12 different boards at the same time. These include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Crime Stoppers, Abilene Freedom Festival, Abilene Cattle Baron’s, Mission Thanksgiving, the World’s Largest BBQ, and many more.
With seven kids and 13 grandkids, Kelly stays busy. And when he has free time he tries to get out in nature for hunting or fishing.
WHAT KEEPS YOU IN ABILENE?
The people. Radio gives you the opportunity to use your voice to help. When you meet people in the community…. here’s how you can help, etc. It’s a blessing to be able to be in a community where people want to help. Everybody working together for a common goal. So many terrific elements of Abilene.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BEING ON THE RADIO?
Number one, you gotta love music. I absolutely love music. Even as old as I am, a new song will come out, and I’ll run down the hallway and say ‘Have you heard this song?! Let’s go listen to this!” Songwriters are some of the most amazing people on the planet. In so few words, they can tell a person’s story. And you just go: ‘That’s exactly what I was feeling.’ The country family is one of the cool things about being in country music. When you go to Nashville and meet the artist, they don’t have an entourage around them. It’s just them. You may get in the elevator in a hotel and Lady A just walked in. You’re like ‘Hey, what are you doin? You’re famous, I’m not.’ Radio is such a neat medium. You can entertain people and ask for help, and they respond. If I can get one person to smile today, I’m good. It’s all about music and helping the community. It’s being able to have a voice to let people know what Hendrick Homes is doing, or what the Ben Richey Boys Ranch is doing.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL AS YOUR SERVING ON ALL THESE BOARDS?
I guess I just kind of wake up and pray, and then just follow wherever God leads me. And if he leads me to do this, then that’s where I’ll be.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAY LOOK LIKE?
I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. I usually text Doc. Make sure he’s awake. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ ‘Nothing. What are you doing?’ Then I get to work at the radio. Then the most important thing is to make coffee. And people ask me, ‘How do you know what you’re going to say?’ And I say, ‘My whole life is show prep.’ You may drive down the road and see something and then you’ll make a note in your phone so the next morning you’ll remember to talk about it. So we work 6 to 10 on the air and then I finish that and come to TMI. That’s going to differ depending on what we’re doing that day. It may last til 4 or 5 o’ clock. I’m blessed to have a great calendar. My niece helps me a lot and my wife. They’ll go ‘Don’t forget, you have a meeting in an hour.’ Outlook calendars are great for that type of thing.
WHAT KIND OF SUCCESS HAVE YOU SEEN IN ABILENE OVER THE YEARS?
Easy one right off is downtown and the SODA district. They’ve done a tremendous job. That’s just crazy to me how that’s grown. You go down Buffalo Gap… when I first moved here we used to hunt dove where the mall is. The airport has changed so much. The zoo. The Storybook Capital of the U.S. I think that’s very cool when we get to see great winners in Abilene make our city stand out.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES ABILENE FACES?
I would’ve said downtown about four years ago. But now they’ve made so many strides to improve that. A challenge I think is for our development as far as industries coming in. I think that was a great challenge for us to be able to grow and build great jobs, get better pay.
WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF ABILENE IN 5-10 YEARS?
Good question, sounds like I’m running for mayor or something! No, I run from office, not for office. Anyway, I think the downtown hotel when that’s completed, that’s going to bring a large number of conventions to Abilene so that’s going to help our city. The refurbishing of Taylor County Expo Center, you can already see the fantastic job their team is doing bringing more and more people in all the time. That’s where we’re going to get our boost and that’s going to bring more business. We’re right in the center of Texas. You couldn’t ask for a better spot.
BOOK: The Bible
SPORTS TEAM: Dallas Cowboys
By Haley Laurence