How did I get here? (And why did I stay?): Austin icon Dale Dudley answers
They say home is where the heart is. It’s where you hang your hat, and there’s no place like it. And with every passing day, it seems like our fair city is flush with people who are ready to call Austin home.
It’s estimated that every day, 160 people move here. And as you’ll hear on the breath of every local coffee shop and watering hole patron, the city just isn’t the same. We’re inundated with new hotels, restaurants and bars on the regular, and we’re welcoming actors and musicians as some of our newest residents.
But it’s important to note, as folks opine on the disintegration of “Old Austin,” that many of our city’s most notable residents got their starts elsewhere. So we’re presenting a new series highlighting some of those folks that have come to call Austin home, and we’re kicking things off with our own resident shock jock, KLBJ’s Dale Dudley.
Name: Dale Eugene Dudley
Occupation: Radio Personality
Year I moved to Austin: 1987
First neighborhood: Jollyville
Current neighborhood: Steiner Ranch
What brought me here: “I moved to Austin because of a bet. My friend Clark Ryan and I were betting on a football game, and at the end of the call, I asked if he had any jobs available. I sent him a tape of me skydiving, and I wrote on the envelope ‘sorry, I have the flu …’ and I stuck it in the mail, and I got a call. And here I am.”
First Austin memory: “Jeff Carroll [a former KLBJ-FM program director] wanted me in town early, to learn street names and acquaint myself with the city before going on air. He decided to take my now ex-wife and me on the lake, and she pulled a marijuana cigarette out of her purse and asked if anyone wanted to partake. When Jeff obliged, I knew I was in a different kind of place.”
Favorite Austin spot: “Back in the '90s, my favorite spot was Steamboat. I knew everyone who worked there. I would go down to the basement and hang with Ian Moore and Charlie Sexton and those guys. Even Bill Hicks was there for a time. The door guy was my friend, and I never paid for a drink. Today? My favorite spot would have to be my car, when I get up early in the morning. There’s no traffic, and I drive in to work to do the job I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 years old, and I get to arrive at work and help the city wake up. That’s really cool for me.”
Austinite I look up to: “Turk Pipkin — someone who’s made his life completely not about him and raised a great family in the process. We became friends because we’re two of the tallest people in town. We met at parties, rising above the crowd.”
Austinite I miss: “[Local radio legend] Cactus Pryor. He was like a second father to me.”
Biggest change I’ve seen: “The inability to get anywhere in town in under an hour.”
Restaurants I'd recommend: “Uchiko. The less-crowded version of Uchi. Steiner Ranch Steakhouse — the best people -watching in the city. Sit at the bar outside and watch 40- and 50-somethings dancing awkwardly. And Hut's Hamburgers.”
Advice for newbies: “Avoid Sixth Street at all costs. And I think the LBJ Museum is a highly underrated Austin destination.”
What Austin has taught me: “I’ve grown up on the air here, and Austin has changed me from a bitter young man to a fairly positive middle-aged man. And I’m thankful for that.”
Dale Dudley is the host of the Dudley and Bob Morning Show on 93.7 KLBJ, where he can be heard daily 6-9 am and as part of their premium podcast 9-10am. He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame along with co-host Bob Fonseca in 2009. He lives near Lake Travis with his wife and two kids.