Mary Vinson, 75, has been keeping the air waves alive for 20 years and she’s collected a strong following with her morning talk show on KDRO 1490 AM, located in downtown Sedalia.
Vinson said she received a call from Betty Wise, KDRO station manager, two decades ago, after Nancy Capps retired and she was asked if she would like to be the “Bargain Market Lady.”
“I said ‘oh no, I’ve retired from the newspaper.’ So she said, ‘oh just come on and do it for just a week and we’ll find somebody.’ And I’m still here.”
Before moving into radio, Vinson started and owned, with her daughter Julie (Vinson) Wiskur, the weekly newspaper Central Missouri News; she ran the paper for 10 years.
“I started that in April of ‘85 and then I sold it in January of ‘94,” Vinson said.
When she began working at KDRO, the station was still on U.S. Highway 65 at Thompson Boulevard.
“I was the Bargain Market Lady, and then we moved down here and Derek (Wolf) and I got to where we just kind of joked with each other and one thing lead to another. And the first thing you know we had a program — it was ‘Derek and Mary in the Morning.’”
Vinson and Wolf only had a five-minute slot but they gained a following and people began to call in and ask if they could have more time on the air. Since then she has had several shows on the station. Her morning show is now called “Mary in the Morning,” and runs from 9:15 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
On Friday she was busy in the studio at 9:45 a.m., with Beau Matthews receiving calls and giving away gift certificates to callers who answered questions correctly. Birthdays were also announced, and one in particular brought her and Mathews a chuckle — someone had requested a birthday wish to a local Ozzy Osborne.
“Well maybe his name was Oz, I don’t know,” Vinson said chuckling.
“We talk about things that are going on,” Vinson said later. “We have birthdays and anniversaries and just things that’s going on in the community. It has been so much fun.
“We have gotten kind of personal with people. We had this one fellow that was our first caller when Derek and I were on the air. And he followed us clear through — he just died about a month ago. His name was Lloyd, and he would call us two or three times a week. We got acquainted with him, so when he died I called his family and told them (about his calls), and they were so appreciative. He had worked and he’d retired and he had emphysema really bad, so he was on oxygen. But, he just loved the program and he would listen and he would participate — that’s the fun part, the listeners.”
Vinson said she is amazed at how many people listen to the program, and she hopes she makes a difference in the lives of her audience.
“I love people, so it’s not hard for me, my husband always said I can talk 30 minutes to a wrong number,” she said.
Each morning Vinson starts the program off with Bargain Market. Afterward she has a different topic each day. Monday is opinion day, Tuesday is “Good Neighbor, Good Business” day, Wednesday is “Remember When,” Thursday is food day and Friday is called “Free-For-All Friday.”
Friday’s listeners can talk about any topic but so far Wednesday’s “Remember When” has been the most popular with listeners.
“Because we talk about, remember when downtown Sedalia had the dog that walked up and down the street, and remember when Sedalia Drug was down on Second and Ohio, things like that,” she said. “People love to talk about old stuff.”
Through the years she’s witnessed changes in the audience and in the location of the station.
“I think that when we first started we had a lot of older people,” she noted. “But now we’re getting younger people.”
Vinson has no plans, at present, to retire from the program because she said her listeners motivate her.
“Stu Steimmetz, the general manager here, just told me a few weeks ago as long as I wanted it I have a job here,” she said. “As long as I can possibly get out, it gets me up, it gets me out, it gets me moving. And I’m afraid if I didn’t have that I’d probably set in a chair and grow old.”
She has added one item to the show — prayer requests.
“When I first started I just had birthdays and anniversaries,” she said. “Since that time we have get-well wishes, and we have started — I’m pretty strong in my faith, and so we started having prayer requests. I have people call me at home and want their name put on the prayer requests. So that’s been something that’s been popular.”
Vinson said she has always been allowed to develop her own show without interference.
“They have always been, from Betty to the new owners, they have always been really nice to let me do what I want to do,” she added. “They have never said ‘no you can’t do that.’”
She has kind words for her audience too.
“I just want them to know I really appreciate them,” she said. “I appreciate all the good things they call and tell me.”
Those that would like to call Vinson at KDRO Radio may call her at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday at 826-5005 and while she’s on the air from 9:30 to 9:55 a.m. Monday through Friday at 827-6200.