April 24, 2007
Douglas -- Years ago, many radio stations would play a few hours of gospel music, then play to other types in hopes of attracting more listeners than its competitors.
Not too many stations play gospel music exclusively these days, and fewer stations play any traditional Southern gospel, unless you listen to one station in particular.
Sometimes the obvious can look deceiving. Consider that most people would think of Ken Williams as a disk-jockey at WULS-FM, but he prefers another label.
"I'm a gospelholic," says Ken as he prepares to play one of his music CDs.
How do you define a gospelholic? Ken says it's a person who can't hear enough of a special type gospel music. "Traditional Southern Gospel," says Ken.
He can't hear enough. "It uplifts me," says Ken.
And many others. "Gospel music touches the heart of people," says Ken and it certainly appears that way judging by the number of phone calls he gets during his weekly radio program.
Listeners often call him during his two-hour radio show on Saturday afternoons with their song requests, but little do they know that he literally rolls in with their favorites.
He carries his old time gospel music in the trunk of his car. Special metal carriers that hold about a dozen music CDs each have handles on both ends make it easier to move. Some of those songs go back to 1936.
Ken owns the equivalent of a musical gold mine. "In albums, over 20,000, the last time I counted," says Ken as he stands in front of floor to ceiling shelving loaded with albums in special protective plastic covers.
Gospel music captured his heart the first time he heard it at a local concert in 1968. "All of that together sort of stirred my heart," says Ken, a stirring that doesn't stop.
He kept the concert program as a souvenir, and listened to the radio to hear more of it. "I got to listening to that at night," says Ken.
He particularly likes the traditional gospel music with four-part harmony accompanied by a piano.
Ken got hooked on gospel music almost 40 years ago when the Beatles made their American landfall, but they didn't hold musical hands. Ken stayed true to the older music. "It's been my life," says Ken.
But he wanted more. He wanted to get to know its stars and he did. "I feel like I've got a lot of good friends," says Ken.
He treasurers a book filled with autographs, some irreplaceable. "Many of the old stars are gone now," says Ken as it thumbs through the book.
But, their memories remain in musical form. Ken became an authority on traditional gospel music the easy way.
"I read album covers," says Ken who also goes to as many concerts as he can.
With 20,000 plus gospel music albums he has a lot of reference material at his finger tips. "A lot of them are irreplaceable," says Ken.
Like the autographs, some of the albums are one of a kind, like he is, a gospelholic, an unusual label that sticks right where it belongs.
Ken's parents enclosed their two car garage so he would have a place to store all his music.