LEWISTON, N.Y. (WKBW) — Keith Radford is a modest man. Try calling him and his 50-year career in news broadcasting "legendary" or "iconic" and he'll politely reject the compliment.
But to most everyone who has worked with him or grown up watching him, Keith's powerhouse presence on the airwaves is indeed legendary and iconic. The old-school newsman epitomizes what you want in a broadcaster: a steady, reliable force to usher us through important newsmaking events happening in the community and beyond.
Beyond is actually an understatement. Keith has covered the Gulf War, traveled to Poland to cover the country's first democratically-elected president, and was in Los Angeles during OJ Simpson's infamous Bronco chase.
“[Simpson] drove in the driveway, I could see him sitting in the backseat, and then I saw they took him in, it was all glass windows you could see them booking him taking his finger prints and everything," said Keith during our wide-ranging conversation in Lewiston, where he lives. "It was all very bizarre.”
Some of the most memorable stories Keith has covered over the years involve members of the United States Air Force, specifically the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
“There’s no greater honor, I don’t think, than being in the American military," said Keith. "To provide a safe, free life that we have."
Hearing Keith speak with such admiration for the Armed Forces was particularly meaningful given the backdrop from which we were discussing his career: overlooking Lake Ontario and Toronto, where he worked before moving to the United States.
"I was allowed to come here, live here, work here, bring my family here. And I was so grateful, I became a citizen as soon as I could," said Keith.
The story that sticks with Keith the most is that of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. The Allegany Couty native died during a tour in Iraq. Dunham sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his comrades.
"Looking at his face, he saved five people’s lives," said Keith as he choked back tears. "I had video of President Bush giving his mother the Medal of Honor. [Dunham] was the first marine in 40 years to be awarded the Medal of Honor. So that was pretty impactful for me.”
There are so many more reflections from Keith, dating back to when he was a scrappy cub reporter for CKLW, the newstalk radio station in Windsor, Ontario. Watch our 10 minute interview above.
With 50 years in news broadcasting in the rear-view, 34 of which were spent in Western New York, Keith has much to celebrate.
A career built on meaningful connections, memorable stories, and so many laughs.
Congratulations, Keith. We love ya, 'Babe.'