July 27, 2014
Duluth News Tribune
Five Questions with Tom Lundgren
By Mike Creger
Tom Allen, known around these parts as 1960 Duluth Denfeld graduate Tom Lundgren, has been in radio for 52 years, mostly as a top country radio host in Texas. He is being inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame on Nov. 1, the hall announced this month. Lundgren got his start at KUMD at the University of Minnesota Duluth and worked his way through local station WEBC and then stations in St. Louis, Dallas and Detroit before landing in Austin and KVET and KASE. We asked Five Questions of Lundgren.
Q: You’ve said that you knew Texas would be the lifelong home for you and your family after arriving in Dallas in 1973. What was it about Texas that caught your fancy?
A: Texas is more than just a state. It’s a state of mind. After I switched from rock radio to country radio in 1967, I felt more comfortable, more at home. When we moved to Dallas in 1973, that “country state of mind” was amplified by the immense popularity of country music in Texas. Add to that the boots, rodeo, hats and the “laid back” way of life — especially in Austin. It just felt right to me. I felt this is where we belong.
Q: What’s the fondest moment of your career as a popular radio host?
A: The fondest moments would be those times I get listener emails telling me how much they enjoy my classic country show. It’s on from 5-10 a.m. each Saturday morning, so if you really want to listen, you gotta get up early. Believe it or not, I have listeners who set an alarm for 5 a.m. on Saturday morning just so they won’t miss my program. I think the fondest moment of any radio host is when he knows he’s connecting with listeners.
Another fond moment for me was the first time I got to emcee a country concert. It was 1967, and the show starred Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell. I was in seventh heaven.
Q: When you think back on growing up in Duluth, what memory comes to mind?
A: I remember getting up at 4 a.m. to peddle papers for the Duluth News Tribune. I remember parking on the Skyline Boulevard to neck with my favorite girl. I remember going to football games and school dances at both West Junior (High) and Denfeld. I remember Canal Park and Park Point and never realizing at the time how very special Duluth is. It took moving away to realize that.
One of my fondest memories of Duluth was when the late Dr. Don Rose hired me as a weekend and fill-in DJ at WEBC in 1962. That kicked off my radio career.
Q: Were you a country music fan before coming to Texas?
A: Yes. I switched to country radio from rock in 1967. That was in Lansing, Mich., at WITL radio. I was growing very disenchanted with rock music. It was going psychedelic, and I was definitely not in that frame of mind. So, I traded my Beatles records for Buck Owens and never looked back.
Q: If you could have a dinner party with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A: Elvis. I came close to meeting him, but he died two weeks before I was scheduled to go to Memphis.
Ricky Nelson. I met him at a show in Dallas, but it was very brief and we never really had a chance to chat. He was my childhood idol.
Angelina Jolie. My wife will tell you that I am totally smitten with her.