Self-proclaimed member of the royal fraternity of river rats and rednecks, Larry Reid, loves the outdoors.
He and his wife, Jan Reid, have been sharing that love with the listeners of their program, “Outdoors with Larry Reid,” on WBGZ Radio in Alton since 1986.
“My wife is my cohort,” Reid said. “She is a champion angler, and we have been married for 53 years. She brings a lot to the show. Because of her, we have more women listeners than men.”
Over the past three decades, Reid’s main goal to promote the outdoors for young people on and off the air hasn’t changed.
“For example, 24 years ago, myself, along with a group of friends, started the Two Rivers Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois,” Reid said. “This fair has grown to be the largest celebration of National Fishing Day for kids in America, and I am happy that these kids have the opportunity to learn how to fish.”
Now, approximately 3,000 children visit the annual fair, which was June 6 this year. Attendees learn knot-tying, fish identification, fish cleaning, casting and other skills in honor of National Fishing Week.
Reid has had plenty of time to hone those skills and others; he has been angling and hunting for 65 years. He admired his father and the other outdoorsmen of his youth because of their enthusiasm and willingness to share knowledge.
It is no surprise Reid grew up to become an educator himself and spent 32 years working in the Alton School District until he retired in 1993.
“Retirement gave us the opportunity to expand our horizons,” Reid said. “We began traveling this great nation and interviewing outdoor folks full time. Our travels found us calling in from such places as Lake Okeechobee, Florida; Birchwood, Wisconsin; Rathbun, Iowa; Puget Sound, Washington; and Carlyle and Rend lakes in Illinois. While doing a program from Saratoga, Wyoming, Aug. 1, 1993, Jim ‘Scoop’ Scanlon broke in to inform listeners that the man-made levee holding back the flooded Mississippi had broken, covering downtown Alton with muddy water.”
Reid’s program covered many local events like the B.A.S.S. Pro Circuit, which came to Illinois for the first time in 1991, and was interrupted, a time or two, by worldwide news, like President George H.W. Bush’s announcement of the Gulf War invasion in 1990.
Some of Reid’s favorite past guests include Cardinals Whitey Herzog and John Mayberry, and recording artist and television host Tennessee Ernie Ford.
“My favorite guests are true outdoorsmen,” Reid said. “Take Tennessee Ernie Ford, for example. He was a country boy who loved the outdoors. I really enjoyed having him on the show.”
Besides his radio show, the longest-running outdoors program in the St. Louis area, Reid has also written for several outdoor publications, including Wildfowl Magazine and Heartland Outdoors.
In 1994, the Outdoor Writers of Illinois named the Reids as the Outdoor Broadcasters of the Year.
“God’s really blessed me,” Reid said. “My two children are successful. I fish three days a week from April to September, and then I travel all over the country duck hunting during the season. The way I see it is, somebody’s got to do it.”
“Outdoors with Larry Reid” airs from noon to 1 p.m. each Sunday on WBGZ 94.3 FM and 1570 AM. The program features three guests on each show. Reid encourages listeners to tune in and learn about upcoming outdoors events that will connect them to local nature.