Special to Hays Post
There’s much for Bob Davis to unpack in 48 years of broadcasting, and he does so in his recently released book "The Dream is Real: My Life on the Airwaves."
Davis, who spent 16 years at KAYS radio in Hays broadcasting Hays High, Thomas More Prep-Marian and Fort Hays State athletics, collaborated with Hays native Jeff Bollig to produce the retrospective of his hall of fame career. The book also includes contributions from more than 50 individuals who intersected with Davis — including a former Sunday school student, coaches, athletes, broadcasting peers and friends.
The book is available online at Amazon.com and will be in select Dillons Stores by Dec. 22 including Hays, Lawrence, Topeka, and Dillons Marketplace Stores in Wichita, Andover and Derby.
The title of the book is based on the line Davis uttered as time expired in the 1988 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship won by Kansas.
“I’ve always considered myself a storyteller, so this was my way of doing so — but in a different medium than I had for 48 years,” Davis said. “While the book follows the chronology of my life, that just provides the platform for documenting history, sharing humorous stories and highlighting interesting people I’ve encountered during my career. It was a fun project, especially working with Jeff who has been such a good friend for so many years.”
Davis’s love of sports and storytelling was sparked at an early age, accompanying his father, who was the local sports editor, to the games of the Independence (Kan.) Yankees, a Class D team in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League. The star of the team was a 17-year-old shortstop by the name of Mickey Mantle. Fast forward to his college days where he decided to quit law school after one year and pursue broadcasting.
Davis' first job was at KAYS in 1968 as a disc jockey and camera operator. His big break came when sports director Keith Cummings took a job in Lansing, Mich., three months after Davis arrived. He was promoted to sports director.
“I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” Davis said. “I thought I’d only be in Hays a few years then move on. But KAYS was such a good station, Bob Schmidt was a wonderful boss and I got to broadcast many games — so I stayed 16 years. I tell people I was born in southeast Kansas, went to junior high and high school in eastern Kansas, but I grew up in Hays. It’s where I got my start, met my wife and we had our child. I loved Hays and its people.”
In 1984, Davis was named Voice of the Kansas Jayhawks, a position he held for 32 years until 2016. He also spent 16 years as sports director at KMBZ radio in Kansas City and 16 years broadcasting the Kansas City Royals. He retired from the Royals following the 2012 season. In his career, he was selected to the Kansas sports and broadcasters halls of fame. He is a 14-time Kansas Sportscaster of the Year.
“I’ve been blessed,” said Davis, who resides in Lawrence. “I’ve gotten to do what I dreamed of doing since I was a child. Plus I’ve met so many great people along the way. It’s been a wonderful life, as Jimmy Stewart said.”
Bollig is a 1980 Hays High graduate, attended Fort Hays State as a freshman and graduated from Kansas. It is there where he actually met Davis working as a student assistant in the Jayhawk athletic department.
“I joke with Bob that he was too much of a star for me to approach him while he was in Hays,” Bollig said. “I had a few opportunities to meet him, but I was just too reserved and nervous. It is a bit ironic because working at KU as a student then later at full-time we were in contact frequently and became very close. He’s just great to be around. He’s a wonderful person and incredibly funny. To do the book with him was certainly a highlight.”
Bollig, who lives in Olathe, has co-authored two other books — "Beware of the Phog: 50 Years of Allen Fieldhouse" and "What it Means to be a Jayhawk."
Davis and Bollig plan to be in Hays for a book signing when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. More information on the book can be found at www.BobDavisTheDreamIsReal.com.