Ex-Homeless DJ Ted Williams has first steady job since 1993

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Ex-Homeless DJ Ted Williams has first steady job since 1993

Postby jon » Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:31 pm

Once-homeless man with smooth voice is back on the airwaves
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Five years after a homeless man's silky voice won him Internet fame, he's on the air again at the same Ohio radio station where he began his career before addiction pushed him to the streets.

The Columbus Dispatch reports [see below] the new weekday radio program on WVKO-AM is the first steady employment Ted Williams has had since 1993.

Williams became an online sensation after The Dispatch featured the 58-year-old's golden voice in a video.

Williams tells the newspaper he's had ups and downs in the years since the video was published. But he says he's just trying to move forward living with his daughter and his longtime girlfriend.

Five years after viral video, 'Golden Voice' Ted Williams comes full-circle
By Kevin Joy
The Columbus Dispatch
Friday January 8, 2016 5:49 AM

During a high-energy “praise break” while on the air, Ted Williams clapped his hands and nodded his head to upbeat gospel music, barely able to contain himself to a chair.

The jokes and laughter that followed were broadcast live as part of a new weekday program starring Williams on WVKO-AM (1580), the same Columbus station where he began a radio career in the 1980s before addictions to drugs and alcohol took the popular local personality from the studio to the streets.

This week marks his first on the job — and the former disc jockey’s first steady employment, in radio or otherwise, since 1993.

The host was back in the zone.

“See how God works?” a sober Williams said on Thursday morning, speaking into a microphone as calls and Facebook messages trickled in from folks as far away as Australia and England.

“It’s come full-circle. Thank you, Jesus.”

The week also marks five years since Williams was introduced to millions around the world through an online Dispatch video showcasing the panhandler’s unexpected “golden voice.”

The video went viral.

Williams’ brush with overnight fame, though, wasn’t a Cinderella story. The depths and damage of his longtime demons played out publicly — from Dr. Phil appearances and family altercations that made the tabloids to a tense reunion with his long-estranged mother on national television.

“I’ve had so many frustrating situations occur,” Williams said.

Nor did the exposure yield material comfort.

In October 2014, the last time Williams spoke with The Dispatch, he said he was living in a Near East Side apartment with no furniture. He owned no car and couldn’t explain what had happened to a $395,000 advance for his 2012 memoir, A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation (his finances, he said today, are “nobody’s business.”)

The public, then, might discount the odds of his latest endeavor.

“God knows I’m not here to focus on everybody’s approval of me as a person right now,” Williams said. “I’m focusing on the imperishable part of me. I want to be right with God when I leave here.”

He’s now living on the West Side with his daughter, Tangela Pullien, and his longtime girlfriend, Kathleen Chambers — who, like Williams, has battled drug addition and also attended a rehab program paid for by Dr. Phil McGraw.

Williams said he lost out on millions because of inexperience and dishonest managers who didn’t have his best interests at heart as opportunities to use his honeyed baritone arose. He declined to elaborate.

Bret Adams, a Columbus lawyer who most recently represented Williams and housed him in a Dublin condo, also would not share details of their split.

At 58, Williams again is trying to move forward.

Helping with the latest chapter is his new manager, Scott Anthony. The 37-year-old co-hosts Williams’ morning radio show, offering a young and streetwise counterpart to his elder’s wide-eyed, often-hammy world view.

The relationship is still new.

“He’s definitely changing; he’s getting better,” said Anthony, a producer and recording artist from the North Side. “It’s still a journey to teach him to be a responsible person with his finances.”

Compensation for the WVKO show — a mix of inspirational talk and contemporary gospel music that airs weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. — comes from commercial sponsorships sought by Anthony, not via the East Side broadcaster.

Williams, meanwhile, has other sources of income: A longstanding partnership with Kraft Foods (purveyors of his signature “You know you love it” tagline) begat a recent spot for its Star Wars-themed macaroni. And Williams was tapped by Pepsi to supply voice-overs in a commercial that aired during the popular Fox drama Empire.

Williams said that he hasn’t used drugs since Aug. 6, 2011.

Getting up for a job each morning has supplied some much-needed normalcy: “The sense of routine, the sense of belonging — all of that is coming back.”

Despite Williams’ rough past and rocky recovery, WVKO general manager Mel Griffin said he didn’t struggle with the decision to bring him aboard.

“We teach and preach about giving second chances; sometimes we’re given third and fourth and fifth chances,” said Griffin, 65, who also leads a nondenominational church in Pickerington.

“We all have issues and problems.”

Griffin, who worked alongside Williams in the early 1990s at the former Miracle 106.3 (then WCKX-FM) — the last station to employ Williams — said the early feedback is encouraging.

“People are just happy to hear his voice and know he is working.”

Anthony said plans are in the works to seek syndication of their morning show and to stream the content as live video (at present, it can be heard at http://www.1580thepraise.com).

For now, Williams is trying to focus on the radio commitment while keeping up appearances as an unlikely example for those trying, perhaps in repeated attempts, to turn their lives around.

The airwaves offer a catalyst connecting his past and present.

“I want them to know that I’ve been through struggles — and they have, too,” he said. “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

“That ‘one day at a time’ really means one second at a time.”
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