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Henry Boggan

Henry Boggan died yesterday at the age of 71 . He was a the host of the Hello Henry show on WBT radio, which ran from 1979 until 1996. He was a big part of a lot of people's lives, including my own. My father was a huge fan.

Jeff Foxworthy has said a redneck is someone who displays a "glorious lack of sophistication." By that definition, Henry might qualify. He liked to greet new callers with a honking toy goose named Queen Charlotte.
That showed a breathtaking lack of sophistication. But his lack of sophistication should not be confused with a lack of civility or gentleness. The phrase "southern gentleman" was often used in describing him, and it fit.

He was also capable of incredible wisdom. One of my most favorite Henry moments was after there had been a robbery and a shooting at The University Hilton. The next day the cops shot one of the perps while trying to arrest him. His mother , talking to the press, expressed a lot of anger about it.

Somebody called Henry's show criticizing the mother, saying among other things that she should have raised her son better. Henry didn't respond by excusing the kid's crime. Or by bashing the cops. He simply pointed out that you shouldn't judge a woman by what she says right after her kid has been killed in a police shootout. His answer was a display of empathy laced with common sense.

That was a memorable Henry conversation, but not a typical one. He usually didn't talk about weighty matters, because he knew people often needed a break from weighty matters. He was just as happy talking about the weather as the pressing issues of the day. Probably happier.

He will be missed.
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