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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2001

Ensley has no plans to step aside

Ageless outdoorsman still syndicating ‘The Sportsman’s Friend’

August 5, 2001

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— Don't look for Harold Ensley to retire anytime soon. What's he going to do go fishing?

After more than 50 years of broadcasting and 48 years as the host of the syndicated outdoors show "The Sportsman's Friend" Ensley has no intention of slowing down.

"David Glass (former Wal-Mart chief executive and now owner of the Kansas City Royals) once asked 'Ensley when are you going to quit this nonsense?' and I said "when I drop," Ensley said.

Ensley was born in Healy, Kan., about 90 miles northwest of Dodge City. If you want to know what year he was born you can ask him but don't count on getting an answer.

After a series of injuries, illness and over all misfortune pretty much wiped out a promising baseball career in the mid-1940's, Ensley wound up selling advertising and doing an early morning religious program on WMBH radio in Joplin.

In 1947, Ensley's radio career took a sharp change of direction thanks to Bill Grigsby's love life.

Grigsby, for years the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs and still a member of the team's broadcast team, was then the sports director at WMBH. He needed someone to broadcast a high school state tournament basketball game.

"He had a date set for that night and he asked me to fill in," Ensley said.

Armed with little more than a life long love of fishing and a general knowledge of area fishing holes, Ensley parlayed that high school basketball game, into a daily outdoor radio show.

While he routinely makes routine fishing trips to Canada and Costa Rico, Ensley loves the abundance of creeks and streams scattered around southwest Missouri and the strip pits of southeast Kansas.

Ensley has been inducted into the National Fishing Hall of Fame, the new Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. When he's not traveling the world filming his show, he manages to squeeze in appearances at Wal-Mart stores across the country and still draws a crowd.

It's a pace he intends to keep up for as long as he can.

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