XENIA — Southwest Ohio is waking up a little differently these days.
Heard in kitchens, front seats and cubicles across the region morning after morning, one voice inside the radio is proving hard to forget.
“I always started my day listening to Bucks Braun in the morning,” Daniel Mullins, broadcaster at Xenia’s Classic Country Radio, said.
Mullins, 26, recalled he was in middle school when radio personality John “Bucks” Braun joined the five-station network and the “Bucks Braun Morning Show” first aired. From doing odd jobs around the station to working in the lobby shop to slowly becoming a full-time broadcaster, Mullins learned how Braun ticked.
“He had a unique way of doing things. I had always been around my dad as a broadcaster and my grandpa, but Bucks’ style was completely different,” Mullins said, bluegrass playing in the background.
Braun’s work day would start around 2 a.m., Mullins recalled, when he’d get to the station on East Second Street and start show prep for his 6 a.m. show.
“Bucks was the most prepared broadcaster I’d ever seen. Every single moment of his show was planned out before he ever turned the microphone on,” he continued. “It was very elaborate, very orchestrated, and it always went off without a hitch — and he was so passionate about it.”
Braun’s morning show would run until noon, until the debut of the “Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular” in 2016, which filled the 10 to noontime slot.
In line with the family tradition, Mullins began broadcasting full-time on the same station as two before him — his grandpa, legendary Paul “Moon” Mullins, and his dad, Joe Mullins of Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.
“I was kinda nervous to see what Bucks would think about it, but he was really excited … Before we made the change, he had me come in on the air one day and talk all about the new show and what I’d be doing. He was really supportive … ” Mullins said.
“… I play some stuff that’s a little out of the box for our network, but he was really supportive and encouraging of that. Bucks liked all kinds of music, not just country and oldies, so it was really cool because he would always tell me different artists to dig into … he would also look into artists after I would play them and mention how cool they sounded.”
Mullins, along with his colleagues at Classic Country Radio, describe the late broadcaster as a great encourager, and a natural mentor behind-the-scenes.
“He taught me a lot about this business — the little things that kind of go unnoticed — how he connected with his audience every day,” Roy Hatfield, broadcaster and program director, said. Hatfield was Braun’s associate producer and is taking over the morning showtime.
“I learned so much from him, just how to do radio the right way,” Greg Gabbard, broadcaster, added. “He did stuff that he didn’t have to do. He would always check in, listen in, offer up tips and words of encouragement and advice. I always appreciated that.”
Mullins continued the sentiment.
“Sometimes you’d get a call from Bucks and he would say that he really liked a certain song you played or he’d say how good you were doing. As a young broadcaster that’s really green and really raw, it always meant a lot.”
Like the radio crew, listeners of the morning man will remember more than his voice — the personal stories he shared with them, how he gracefully adapted with the changing times of music, his seemingly-effortless advertising talent, and how, on air, he just had fun.
“One day he was leaving the studio and I was walking in — and he said — ‘Well, have fun! ‘Cause if you’re not having fun, the audience won’t have fun’,” Mullins said. “He had more fun being on the radio than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Off the air, too, the Hall of Famer could be heard throughout the building many a day telling his best stories — like the time he “broke” John Anderson’s single “Swingin’” — or when he was just laughing with the guys.
“He was a rare breed,” said Joe Mullins, who welcomed Braun to the studio in 2004. “Great radio personalities are really a rare commodity, a precious commodity in today’s media landscape. To do live local radio and entertain and engage an audience continuously, hour after hour, day after day is a lost art and he was one of the masters. He wasn’t a disc jockey; he was a radio personality. There’s a big difference …”
“… His voice was a part of life for over 30 years for thousands of people in this region. He had a big, booming voice that drew people in.”
Braun’s loyal listeners lost a familiar voice Jan. 4 — and whether they had ever met him or not — they lost a friend with whom they began every morning.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.