Watson remembered for golden radio voice with a heart to match


Radio host Howard Watson was known to countless Arkansans over a career that began in the 1950s and lasted until 2004.

Jeff Watson, one of his three sons, recalled an instance from his high school days while he was doing a project. For the assignment, Jeff Watson interviewed his father and asked about his most cherished possession.

“His family was his most precious possession,” Jeff Watson said. “That speaks to him as a man.”

Howard Watson died on Tuesday at age 84.

Back in the 1950s Howard Watson met his future wife Mildred Geraldine Watson in their hometown of Pine Bluff. While they knew of each other in high school, they did not connect until their early adult years. In between, he served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War.

“My mother was a sales clerk at Raley Music Store,” Jeff Watson said. “My father spun records in the front of the store. … Not too long after that, they got married.”

Howard Watson used two other stage names during his career. He used the name Ken Knight on KAAY radio on a program called “The All Night Satellite.” Later he used the name Len Day at radio stations in central Arkansas, including Hot Springs Village.

He delighted in playing songs requested by listeners and owned 10,000 LP records.

“He interviewed the politicos of the day,” Jeff Watson said. “He loved interviewing a wide variety of people. He found people genuinely interesting. If someone asked for something, he had it.”

His father worked until 2004 when he suffered a stroke.

“He did not get the retirement he wanted, but he did get an illustrious carer,” Jeff Watson said.

Watson is survived by his wife of 57 years; three sons Mark I. Watson and wife Marty Watson of Jacksonville, Ark.; Rex I. Watson and wife Patty Watson of Jacksonville, Ark.; and Jeff I. Watson and wife Cathy Watson of North Little Rock, Ark. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at North Little Rock Funeral Home, a Smith Family Funeral Home, 1921 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR. An online obituary is at www.SmithFamilyCares.com.