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Random Thoughts: A community conversation with John Ulett

By: Jessica Meszaros


John Ulett in the former KSHE studios in Crestwood in 1980 [Personal Photo]

This week, West Newsmagazine talks with KSHE radio morning show host John “U-man” Ulett, who also is the St. Louis Cardinals stadium announcer. John and his wife, Ruth, have been married for 28 years and have three daughters, Olivia, Abigail and Sophie. 

Why did you decide to go into this field?

It was a childhood dream. I remember being a kid and just wanting to be on the radio in my hometown someday with my buddies listening to me. That’s the only motivation I can really ever remember. It was just a childhood desire. I’ve been full-time, on-air for 42 years. Some people count years when they were part-time or interns but, for me, it was always full-time employment. To still be doing this at the age of 61 when I started doing the exact same thing at KSHE at the age of 19, those are some mind-boggling numbers to me. To still be doing the same thing, it’s crazy.

Who was the most interesting person you’ve ever met?

We have this guy that gives golf tips on the air named “Don The Legend” [Don Newbrough]. His tips are vulgar, silly, obnoxious and funny, and that’s just the way he is in his everyday life. I was playing golf one day and I heard him giving advice to a lady on the golf course. This goes back all the way to the ‘80s. She was just laughing, and he was being his typical self. I said to myself, “I have got to get that guy on the radio somehow. I’m going to have to clean it up, I know that. Put a lot of beeps in, but I’ve got to get him on the radio.” He turned out to be one of our listeners’ favorite characters over the years. … He’s just a happy-go-lucky, crazy, funny person. He survived being shot in the chest at a bar fight once. … It made him a very popular figure for our listeners for a very long time.

What’s something that started out badly but, in the end, was great?

Something that happened to me in 1991, I did a prank on the radio that was meant to be satirically humorous. Listeners took it the wrong way and I got in trouble to the point where I was fined by the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and the radio station. I got tired of paying the fine out of my paycheck week after week, and a Sunday morning slot opened up … for a show called KSHE Klassics … I went to my boss and said, “Look, I’m tired of paying this fine. Can I go ahead and work Sunday morning in exchange for you guys paying the fine?” They agreed to do it, and it’s become one of my favorite shows to do and one of the more successful shows we have on the radio station. So, that was like turning lemons into lemonade.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

I do a lot of running trails, and I just wish everybody would pick up their dog’s poop. Please. I know people love their dogs and want to take care of their dogs, but please pick up their poop. As a matter of fact, I have a T-shirt with that [saying] that I occasionally wear on the running trails. It’s not one of the most important things in life and there are probably better answers, but that’s the one that pops into my head because I’m getting ready to go out and do a run in a bit.

What values are most important to you?

Trust and hard work. I mean, you have to have trust between people that you deal with on an everyday basis. What else do you have? You’re just out in the world all by yourself then. That, and with working hard, we all have to make our own way in life. We’ve got to be able to stand on our own and try to do it with integrity and honesty. That’s what I try to do. I go to my workplace every day and try to give 100 percent every single day. That’s not always easy to do, but you’ve got to try and do it as often as you can. Try to build consistency in what you do. Also, being friendly and being genuine with other people. Making friends is important. You can make an enemy in a second, but it takes years to make a good friend. I try to work hard at that, too.

John Ulett and Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac

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