Our people: Radio guy

Courtesy photo Lee and his son Robert in 1998.

Jim Lee, News and Public Affairs Director at KENW/KMTH-FM in Portales has worked in radio, television, theater, movies and plays over the past 46 years. Now he is often referred to ask the ‘radio guy.’

“I’m not what I do,” Lee said. “It doesn’t matter what we do but who we are.”

When I get in my car, the first thing I listen to is… My wife turning off the radio (unless I am on my way to work).

My friends and family call me… “Jim” (unless they’re mad at me).

In an alternative life, I would have been a… Bug-eyed alien dropping in for a visit to Roswell, but don’t call me a weather balloon.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to… Stratford-Upon-Avon in England.

After a long, hard day, I love to… Go home and share my old recliner with my buddy, Igor the Cat.

One of my favorite childhood toys is… A toy race car. It was metal and dark green with removable tires. My parents gave to me when I was 6, and I had it a long time. I still think about it and wonder where it went. I don’t know if I’ll have toys when I enter my second childhood, or just put braces on my dentures.

One movie I could watch over and over again is.. . There are many movies I could watch over and over again – for different reasons. For the writing it would be Marty. For the acting probably Rainman or Lawrence Olivier’s “Richard III.” For the directing, Orson Welles’ “A Touch of Evil.” Music would have to be “Jaws.”

My favorite bad-for-me food is… Anything with lots of jalapenos, lots of salt, and lots of calories. I tell myself it’s not gluttony, it’s waistline enhancement. Horseradish mustard topping is pretty good, too.

The most unique place I’ve ever traveled is to… I can’t pinpoint the most unique place I have ever traveled to, but Utah has to be near the top of the list.

What’s your idea of a perfect day? My idea of a perfect day is one I manage to get through without breaking anything or hurting myself.

What did you think about on Sept. 11? The first word to hit my mind on the Sept. 11 was “why?” As I gradually took in the facts that morning, witnessing it on TV with my friend Don Criss, I added sadness and anger to the bewilderment. I don’t understand hatred.

Tell us about your pets. Saundra and I have five pets: two mixed-breed dogs, neutered males named Leo and Sam, and three neutered male cats named Igor, Ketzel, and Lucy. Leo is literally an 85-pound lap dog. Igor is a mutant (extra toe on each paw). When I first brought Lucy home as a barely weaned kitten rescued from the parking lot at the Hong Kong Super Buffet, we thought he was a female. By the time we discovered otherwise, he had already learned his name. Oh well.

What is your theme song? My theme song, off the top of my head, is probably Paul Anka’s “I Did It My Way.”

What would you like printed on your gravestone? What I would like on my tombstone is “He cared.”

Who’s invited to your fantasy dinner party, and why? As soon as I say who is invited to my fantasy dinner party, I’ll probably think of someone else. There are so many possibilities. Among others, I would include Jesus of course. Some of my other guests would be Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, Voltaire, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, W.C. Fields, Thomas Jefferson, and England’s Henry II.

What do you think about Clovis? Although Clovis is adding some of the features one usually sees only in larger cities, it retains its small town character. I like that. There are many fine people in Clovis, some of whom I am proud to call my special friends. I especially enjoy my visits to the two Kiwanis clubs in Clovis.

What do you think about Portales? Portales is home. When the city issued a proclamation honoring me for service to the community, I simultaneously felt honored and humbled. When Mayor King presented me with the certificate, and the City Council and spectators gave me a standing ovation, I didn’t know what to say. Most of all, I thank Portales and Roosevelt County for the many wonderful friendships it has provided and for inviting me to join the local Kiwanis club.

What’s so great about your favorite sport? The best thing about my favorite sport, American football, is that it combines mental ability with physical ability and psychology.

Tell us about a happy time. The happiest event in my life was the birth of my son at 1:42 a.m., November 15, 1969. More recently, I was very pleasantly surprised when the Governor and Lt. Governor of New Mexico and the state Commission for Community Volunteerism selected me as the 2009 New Mexico Civic Volunteer of the Year-it even included a free lunch in Albuquerque.

What was your most embarrassing moment? I don’t know if was the most embarrassing moment or not, but it has to be close. In my formal attire (white dinner jacket) and at the head table of a district Kiwanis banquet right after being presented as the new district Governor-Elect and during a standing ovation from hundreds of people, I fell off the back of the dais.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your job? If I weren’t doing my present job, I would be working in the legal profession. I graduated from a law school and have been working in Roosevelt County Teen Court for years, so I think I am skilled in this field. I have always thought about practicing law and becoming a judge. What a an opportunity to make a positive difference in the community that would be.

When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? When I was a little kid, I dreamed of being a scientist, and later a successful actor and writer. As an older kid, I wanted to be a lawyer and a judge (like those courtroom scenes on the TV show Perry Mason). Little did I know back them that I would actually graduate from a law school all those years later.

Who is your hero and why? I have a lot of heroes, such as Thomas Jefferson, Henry II, and Harry Truman. In more recent years, President Gerald Ford was a big hero to me. He knew that the Nixon pardon would cost him the election but was convinced it was the best thing for the country after being torn apart by the Watergate scandal. He had the courage and decency to sign the pardon. He chose our country over himself. I respect that.

Tell us about your greatest individual accomplishment. I don’t know what my biggest accomplishment is because I’m not through yet. I felt good about being named 2009 New Mexico Civic Volunteer of the Year and being honored for community service by the city I live in. I was honored to be the first eastern New Mexico person elected Kiwanis District Governor since 1974 then after my term of office elected President of the Kiwanis International Past Governor’s Association. Ultimately, if possible, when I go to my rest, I want the world to be just a tiny bit better because I was in it for a while.

If I could do anything, I would… If I could do anything I wanted to do, I would end hatred and greed and bypass intolerance in favor of acceptance.

What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is the defeat of courage.

What is your greatest hope? My greatest hope is the triumph of decency.

What is your favorite taste? My favorite taste is the flavor of empty calories.

What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is the lawn right after it’s mowed.

What’s your favorite part about your job? My favorite part of my job is the people with whom I work. I am privileged to be on the team.

What do you not like about your job? What I don’t like about my job is its heavy dependence on electronic technology and the shamefully low salary.

Tell us how you met your spouse. I met my spouse in the sixth grade. After elementary school, I didn’t see her until high school. We went through high school together, but I was always too shy to ask her for a date. After high school, we lost touch for 38 years. We accidentally crossed paths on the Internet. We were both single after unsuccessful marriages and had grown children. I told her I had wanted to date her in high school, and she said she had waited for me to ask her out back then. So I finally asked her. We have been married nine years.

What is your most prized possession? My most prized possession is my sanity. I sure hope I don’t misplace it with my car key.