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Mon January 13, 2014
'Like Buttah:' Legendary KERA Reporter BJ Austin Retires
After more than 30 years in broadcasting, the last six at KERA, BJ Austin has retired. Friday was her last day at the station.
Don’t fret, though: She’ll return to the airwaves from time to time, filling in for vacationing staffers.
KERA produced a surprise sendoff story featuring the legendary journalist. (Practically every North Texas newsmaker knows BJ.) We’re saying goodbye to someone who’s delivered standout stories and filled the airwaves -- and our newsroom -- with contagious, positive energy.
The Fort Worth native knows North Texas highways, back roads, DART lanes, bike lanes and her share of city hall benches.
She’s worked at, oh, just a handful of stations – WGST, WNEW, KRLD, WBAP, WGSO, WTIX, KLIF and KEWS, among others. While the awards she’s racked up from the Associated Press, Texas Medical Association and other groups look nice next to her New Orleans Saints memorabilia, she's passionate about telling stories about real people.
“You learn a whole lot about that person about the situation, and frankly also about yourself,” she once said.
And people are always at the heart of her reporting ...
“Until last year, 47-year-old Ronnie Porter of Oak Cliff could not read … ”
“Amar Patel slips his left arm into the prosthesis with the help of a special sleeve that protects it as it slides into the socket. He then inflates air bladders to secure the arm. …”
“Volunteers are cutting up downed tree limbs and picking up debris piece by piece in modest Rancho Brazos neighborhood. …”
“Smith says the attitude toward football concussions has certainly changed. Players no longer are told to just to shake it off. …”
“This is the first time he’s brought ostrich races to the State Fair. Two dozen are here. And Hedrick knows each one by name. …”
“At Texas Health Resources Southwest Fort Worth, a small, boxy machine with a round head works daily in the operating rooms, using ultraviolet light to kill potentially dangerous microbes. …”
While BJ’s retiring, we’re not going to let her disappear from the airwaves altogether. She’ll drop back in occasionally with that distinctive drawl -- and a wink.