William T. (Bill) Brooks 

1930-2024 

William T. (Bill) Brooks passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz. on April 23, 2024, after a brief illness.  

William T. (Bill) Brooks

Born July 26, 1930, in Emporia, Kan., Bill was raised there, where his folks ran a grocery store that was started by his grandfather, W.H. (Bill) Brooks in 1885, until he left for the University of Missouri, where he studied journalism.  

Bill started his professional journalism journey in 1951 at KFRU in Columbia, Mo. as a radio announcer for 75 cents an hour. For the next several years Bill held a myriad of different roles in radio in the Midwest that included everything from announcing D-league basketball games to interviewing farmers at the Missouri Farmers Association on agricultural subjects to station management. 

Eventually, opportunities in television became too interesting to ignore and Bill made the switch from radio to television at a station in Great Bend, Kan., where he did both news and sports. The next phone call came from KTVH in Wichita, Kan. in 1957. They were looking for an emcee for a new teenage dance show called the Hi Fi Hop (similar to a local American Bandstand). This show provided Bill the opportunity to meet and introduce the up-and-coming music of stars of the day as they toured to promote their records — Patsy Cline, Ritchie Valens and Johnny Cash among others.  

1965 was a memorable year in that Bill married Janell (Rabourn) who had been his dental hygienist and accepted a new role in Denver as evening news anchor. Shortly after, a new anchor opportunity arose in Boston in early 1967. There Bill reported on the tumultuous events of the time including the war in Vietnam, the protests of that war and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. It was also at this time in Boston that Bill and Jan’s two children, Amy and Ted, were born.  

In the early 1970s radio came calling again with the opportunity to purchase an AM radio station in Belen. Bill relished going back to his roots of both radio and small business. He was dedicated to supporting local businesses and keeping folks shopping locally with the implementation of programs that included a Christmas-time campaign that had DJs calling randomly selected numbers out of the Valencia County phone books, calling them live on-air. If the recipient answered with “Christmas shop here this year” they would win KARS Kash that could only be spent in participating local businesses.  

Bill would later expand the station to include an FM station and bring the new concept of “cable tv” to Belen with the incorporation of Belen Cablevision.  

Bill was also an active member of Rotary Club International and an inaugural member of the Tierra del Sol Country Club. He loved golf and played at every opportunity. He also seldom shied away from the social opportunities associated with golf and the country club.  

As the landscape of broadcasting changed in the 1990’s to larger corporations owning small town radio and cable television stations Bill recognized the opportunity to sell what he had built and retire. More time for golf! He and Jan also traveled extensively trotting all around the globe and enjoying some well deserved time off. After 35 years in Belen, Bill and Jan decided it was time to move closer to family and go back to their roots and returned to Wichita, Kan.  

Not long after, Ted and his wife, Nicky, and their children (Will and Tutter) moved to Phoenix, Az., and a plan was devised for Bill and Jan to split their time between Wichita in the summer and Phoenix in the winter. The plan was great until advancing age and Covid made going back and forth too difficult. Bill spent the last several years in Phoenix until his passing.  

Bill was predeceased by his son, William T. Brooks III (Ted), and parents, William T. Brooks and Barbara (Gansel) Brooks.  

He is survived by his loving wife, Jan, having celebrated nearly 60 years of marriage, also by daughter Amy and her partner Jennifer, daughter-in-law, Nicky and grandsons Will and Tutter.  

At his request, no service will be held. Instead, at Christmas, maybe shop here this year. 

The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.