Bradford, innovative and respected broadcaster, dies

Dec 10, 2013

Last night, Northeast Texas lost not just the greatest radio voice to come from these communities, but a respected and loved friend and neighbor.

Bill Bradford, the longtime voice of KSST-AM in Sulphur Springs, died last night. The man known to many simply as “Brad” had been hospitalized following a recent stroke. He was 93.

Bradford spent over half a century as a newscaster, announcer, weatherman, sportscaster, and radio businessman and manager. His many honors include a place in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor.

Bradford came to KSST in 1948, one year after the station went on the air. He soon became KSST’s general manager and later its owner. Bradford spent the next six decades reporting on and contributing to the lives of Sulphur Springs and Northeast Texas. During his career, he also helped organize the Emergency Broadcasting System that is still in use today during public emergencies. He’s credited with coming up with the common phrase “This is a test. This is only a test.”

Bradford also helped popularize the use of radar as a tool for weather forecasting. He got the idea from having used radar during his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

As a result of his work in helping Texas and the nation use technology to predict, prepare for and manage emergencies, Bradford was recognized by organizations including the Texas Association of Broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Weather Service and the Defense Preparedness Agency. In 2012, Bradford was named Broadcaster of the Year by the Texas Association of Broadcast editors.

Bradford served as chairman of the Texas Emergency Broadcast System. 

While serving as chairman of the Associated Press Broadcasters Association, Bradford facilitated a cooperative effort between the Texas Election Bureau and the AP to carry Texas election results over teletype for the first time.

In Sulphur Springs, Bradford was named Hopkins County Citizen of the Year in 1957 and won the Chamber of Commerce’s Vision Award in 2012. 

Bradford was born in Marietta, Okla., in 1920.

In an October 2013 interview with Sulphur Springs News-Telegram editor Butch Burney, Bradford was asked for what he’d like to be remembered.

“To have, mostly by accident, I think, affected the lives of a lot of young people, is what I’d like to most be remembered for,” Bradford said.