Gordon Keith Makes His Name on the Radio, But He's Making Himself Heard as a Columnist

Categories: People 2013

Keith.jpg
Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Gordon Keith is sitting in a restaurant he'd prefer you not know the name of. It's not far from where he once lived, but he's in a new neighborhood now -- he won't say which -- where he presumably lives alone, although he won't say whether he's dating. He's answering little and asking a lot, and I, skilled in the dual arts of silence-filling and narcissism, am obliging, telling him the things he's laboring not to tell me.

Eventually, somehow, we arrive at the point: That his column in The Dallas Morning News, which debuted on the Op-Ed page this year, is the best in the paper. "I'm just glad I said yes to them," Keith says.

It's a small wonder they even asked. For almost 20 years, Keith has made his living as a comedic stuntman for KTCK-FM 1310 The Ticket, breaking up the sports- and guy-talk with a grab bag of old-school radio jokes: impersonations, characters, detours into weird news, etc. There's emotional intelligence lurking beneath a lot of it, but you have to listen long and hard before it finds you.

You'd expect the silliness to scare off the News -- especially the editorial page, a place for Serious Thinkers. But there it is, every other week: Keith on fathers and sons. Keith on the Bible. Keith on the way money comes between friends. His columns are smart and funny and universal. They also seem to act as a safe space for him to unclog the wisdom that collects in his head, thanks to some "social anxiety" and his penchant for privacy.
"We are all custodians of our own mythology, and I spent too many years polishing mine instead of cleaning it up," he wrote recently, in a story about how he glorifies his adolescent failures. "I'm trying to change that."

He's also wondering whether there's room for some nuance on your commute. Morning radio requires a certain rigidity, Keith says, both in its format and its opinion-making. But he says he's struggling to muster the stridency and aggression and "jackassery" of Young Gordon, the guy who fell into radio and never got up.

"It gets hard to experiment," he says, but he wants to tinker. "I'm scared to change it wholesale." Then, like a conversational ninja, he's back to asking about me. I'm back to obliging, and he's back to listening, and I'm starting to realize how he collects all that wisdom in the first place.


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30 comments
trixieskips
trixieskips

Good call, naming Gordon a "most interesting person" in Dallas.

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

Is that Gordon Keith in the picture or Gordon Gecko?

I like his radio bits better than the columns, especially the earlier, funny ones. (Woody Allen, Stardust Memories reference at work there).

That statement is not really fair because it is difficult to stay fresh for the number of years he has been on the air. His recent Officer Foster bit was right up there with the Jake Z 'George Dejohn drop' prank phone call bit for funny.  His material is still usually better than anyone else's. His good characters usually flesh out  keenly observed, universal personality flaws that listeners can identify with. 

Gotta say I usual catch his work on the podcasts because I could drive to Ennis and back before that station gets back from commercial break.


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

I love Gordo, but rather than profiling someone who never lacks for exposure, why not profile someone who does real work, real reporting.  Try Ed Wallace, or any of the investigative reporters in town?  All part of the dumbing down of America.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Seems that recently Gordo has been dumbing down his rants.  Much prefer it when he throws in philosophical conundrum that draws the listener and co-hosts offsides

EastDallasP1
EastDallasP1

Corby is still infinitely funnier. Gordos bits are tired and old.

Dan Pettit
Dan Pettit

I think he underrates his interviewing ability. Just go on YouTube and watch his interviews with people like Will Ferrell.

jdavis7873
jdavis7873

If I had a best friend in high school that I hadn't talked to in 25 years, and pretty much avoided at all costs since, he'd be a lot like Gordo.

#giftgiver


hlokku
hlokku

A fan of Keith and his brilliance on radio. Can't quite say the same thing about his writing. Some of his stuff is alright, most of the rest just comes across as trying too hard to show how smart he is (which I agree  he is). As for this piece, it read like a hagiography. 

Bathhouse_Gordy
Bathhouse_Gordy

Keith is a limp-wristed patsy, who has allowed himself to be punked by the DMN. He's reached the point of desperation for attention that he was willing to write a column spouting the old, stale lie of Lee Harvey Oswald shooting JFK by himself! LOL!

That's a clear indication that somebody has failed in the media, when they stoop to such ass-kissing in order to placate mainstream media outlets.

StupidHippies
StupidHippies

"Dallas' least interesting liberal yuppie stereotypes"

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Love the Great Gordo, coulda wrote a hell of lot more than this about him and we woulda ate it up Tone..or just turn loose Eric and have him make something up. 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@scottindallas Definitely - Ed is overlooked here.  His in-depth no BS analysis is head and shoulders above what is generally available. 

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@EastDallasP1 You're kidding me right? Gordo is infinitely funnier. Then again, we all have our own preferences, I just don't think Corby has much and fell into that job when Greggo couldn't stay sober. 

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

@StupidHippies Yet another 11-year old on Summer break who's mom lets him play on the computer all day so she can get smashed.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Sotiredofitall @scottindallas He gives generously to KERA, yet because he works on Fox 4, they import some dimwit auto writer to discuss new cars.  They think that "Fox 4" is a scarlet letter.  KERA and NPR have declined in quality over the last decade--they are more a source of disinformation than offering real reporting.  They're so worried about "image" (though the seldom who funds, the thinktanks and their whore "experts" that overwhelm their stories/shows.  The experts are generally stenographers of gov't agencies--(they need their access afterall)  and seldom stray from admin propaganda.  It's lucky for them that the only difference between the parties is in their sales pitch, and their accord on actual policies makes concealing the duopoly so much easier. 

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@joe.tone @JoshisallergictoCalifornia I don't want to kick you in the nuts because I do think you guys do a good job. But I didn't really get anything out of this that I didn't know. Why write about someone that refuses to give you anything? It's always amazed me about Gordo in a way, how he can try to peel back people's layers in interviews but pretty much refuses to let anyone do it to him. Thoughts?

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@scottindallas Can only partially agree, still find some of the talk shows informative and entertaining.  I can always change the station.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@DirtyP1 @JoshhasalowerBAthanCliffLee All thoughtful nut-kicking is welcome. 

If I'm being honest, I think these blurbs don't work particularly well out of context -- that context being the print issue, which huge, gorgeous portraits and space-constrained mini-profiles (they couldn't top 400 or so words), all packaged together and wrapped in gloss. This is really a photo- and print-driven issue that we shoehorn onto the web, because print is obviously the future.

That said, I think Gordon's reluctance to say where he lives is more revealing than where he lives, which is why I included it.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@JoshhasalowerBAthanCliffLee Like how a guy that knows next to nothing about sports is one of the highest paid on air talent at American's #1 sports station? 

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Gagreed DP1, and methinks Gordo is married w child.  Was a couple of years ago anyhow.. This write-up was a bigger penalty kill than the 8:40 bit is most days.  Woulda liked to hear about his daily schedule, how does he feed..hard hitting questions.

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